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Gov. Eric Holcomb Signs Historic Gaming Compact With Pokagon Band Leaders

By Gemma DiCarlo, IPB News | Published on in Business, Government, Statewide News
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (right) signs a historic Class III Gaming Compact with Pokagon Band Tribal Council Chairman Matthew Wesaw (left) at South Bend’s Howard Park on Tuesday, May 4. (Gemma DiCarlo/WVPE)

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb traveled to South Bend Tuesday to sign a historic gaming compact with the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians.

The tribal-state compact is the first of its kind in Indiana history. It will allow the Pokagon Band to bring more sophisticated slot machines and table games, like blackjack and roulette, to its Four Winds Casinos in South Bend and New Buffalo, Michigan.

But Tribal Council Chairman Matthew Wesaw said the compact isn’t just about gaming. He said it’s an opportunity to build trust and create future partnerships between the state and the tribe.

“Obviously, gaming is the economic engine that allows us to do a lot of our stuff,” Wesaw said. “But the focus really is on, ‘What can we do to improve the quality of life of our citizens?’”

The compact also includes a $1 million education fund, which will allow Pokagon citizens to attend state-funded colleges or vocational schools for free.

The governor said he would continue to work with Wesaw and the rest of the tribal council on issues like education and healthcare access.

“This is our home. Ours. Together,” Holcomb said. “To have that compact in hand just makes it official and now, the sky’s the limit.”

The compact will now go to the U.S. Department of the Interior for a 45-day review.