HomePublicationsNewsletter ArchiveNewslettersVolume 22Issue 36Four Winds South Bend Casino Begins Construction

On December 7, 2016, Four Winds CEO Frank Freedman revealed how big the South Bend casino will be by saying “Well the facility itself is going to be approximately 175,000 square feet; the gaming floor will be about 55,000 square feet. To put that in relative terms those of you that are familiar with New Buffalo, New Buffalo’s casino floor is about 140,000 square feet, so this will be about a third of that, a little bigger than a third of New Buffalo’s floor.”

The initial application for land in trust discussed an 18 story hotel with 500 rooms though, the phase one plans revealed by the Pokagon Band does not include a hotel of any size. As reported by WNDU, Tribal Chairman John Warren indicated that the application for land in trust sets the parameters for the maximum amount of development the tribe can do on the site.

“You know we have three other sites, we want them to complement each other, not feed off each other,” added Warren. “So I think this first phase is a very calculated way of testing the market.”

“There’s obviously business reasons they have to do this in a phased way, that’s how they did it in New Buffalo too,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg, (D) South Bend. “But what we know that kind of revenue and some very serious jobs are coming from the get go.”

According to WNDU, the South Bend facility will have 1,800 electronic gaming machines which could translate to up to $2 million per year in payments to the city from the tribe. Level of payment depends directly on the number of machines. Due to the restriction of gaming action in South Bend to Class II bingo based games, however, the South Bend site will be the only Four Winds property without table games, and its electronic games will technically be sophisticated version of bingo.

“We wouldn’t have moved forward with the project if we thought it was an inferior product,” explained Freedman. “There’s casinos like Porch Creek, in Alabama that have literally thousands, 2,500 machines, Class II.”

Notably, the tribe is not able to move forward as a Class III facility (which would allow for typical slot machines and table games) because no state gaming compact has been negotiated with the state of Indiana. Any potential compact adopted in the future could change the class of games available in South Bend.

In addition to gaming, the Four Winds South Bend will feature three bars and restaurants including the Copper Rock Steakhouse and the Buffet. “This is a full blown casino, it’s a full sized casino, it’s not a satellite casino,” said Freedman. “This facility’s going to have almost 800 dining seats.”


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