A study commissioned by the Casino Association of Indiana and Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City lays out future challenges for the industry and says the Four Winds South Bend casino, currently under construction, will have a "substantially negative impact" on gaming revenue and jobs in Indiana. The report suggests the planned $400 million casino and tribal village from the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians will cut into state revenue by nearly $360 million over the next five years.
In addition to the South Bend casino, the report details issues that could affect Indiana gaming, including: Ohio’s legalization of casinos, video gaming device legalization in in Illinois, the aging base of casino patrons, overall economic conditions and state policies.
Association Chief Executive Officer Matt Bell says "the introduction of a tribal casino in South Bend will have a substantially negative impact on state revenue, employment in the commercial casino industry, payments made to communities through local development agreements and the resulting community benefits those payments support." He says it the association’s duty "to quantify the impact" the venue would have. "It is our hope," Bell says "that this independent study will lead to a robust conversation about the future of the commercial casino industry in Indiana with policy makers, regulators, and leaders at the state and local level." The study from New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group, which can be viewed here, estimates 730 jobs will be lost as a result of the Pokagon Band opening the casino.
The casino is expected to open in early 2018 on around 166 acres in South Bend that are now held in trust for the benefit of the tribe by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians have the authority, independent of the state, to regulate activities on the property. Tribal officials expect the new casino to create some 1,200 long-term jobs and approximately 700 construction jobs.
Bell says "this report serves as a clarion call to engage each of those stakeholders in conversations about the future of this industry, which has served such a vital role in supporting state and local economic development and employing more than 13,000 Hoosiers annually. We look forward to educating our partners at every level about the existing and new challenges facing our industry and to assisting them in development strategies and policies that insure a vibrant future for the industry and the communities we are proud to call our homes."
The association represents 11 of the 13 casino properties in the state. Blue Chip and the French Lick Casino are not association members.