First To The Finish Line? Four Winds Casino Gears Up For Return

The Four Winds Casino in South Bend, IN, might be able to reopen by mid-June.

Casinos in Indiana had to shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. From then on, there has been a strong desire among the Hoosier State casinos to reopen. Unsurprisingly, this period of inactivity has negatively impacted the industry.

Because Indiana does not permit legal online casino gaming, online sports betting apps have become the sole income source for the gambling industry. This situation has already resulted in a record-low handle for the state in April.

Nevertheless, the downward trend will likely reverse itself over the summer as casinos around Indiana begin to reopen.

Before reopening, Four Winds needs approval.

Assuming the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) approves of each casino’s reopening strategies, all casinos in Indiana are set to reopen sometime between June 14 and July 4.

Four Winds is planning to reopen on June 15, which would position it as the first casino in the state to resume operations. The same reopening date applies to the Four Winds locations in Michigan.

However, before the reopening date can be confirmed, Four Winds still requires final approval from the Pokagon Gaming Commission.

The team managing operations at the Four Winds Casinos has collaborated with the Pokagon Gaming Authority, the Pokagon Gaming Commission, and the Pokagon Health Task Force to formulate a reopening plan. Upon receiving approval for this plan from the Pokagon Gaming Commission and notifying the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), Four Winds Casinos will move forward with reopening.

Four Winds could potentially receive approval as early as next week, as the commission’s next hearing is scheduled for June 8.

So far, Horseshoe Hammond is the only other Indiana casino that has announced its target reopening date.

Horseshoe Hammond, the state’s most profitable retail casino, is aiming to reopen as early as possible, with a targeted reopening date of June 14.

Casinos owned by tribes can follow their own regulations.

Four Winds, being a tribal casino, is not governed by the same rules as other casinos in Indiana.

To reopen, the remaining casinos in the state must present a comprehensive plan to the IGC. The IGC will either approve or reject these plans, based on their determination of whether the plans sufficiently limit the spread of COVID-19.

Even when they are able to reopen, the casinos must adhere to a long list of requirements. This includes checking the temperature of each customer and regularly sanitizing chips, surfaces, and dice.

Four Winds isn’t obligated to adhere to any IGC regulations. Being a tribal casino, it’s permitted to resume operations if it meets the approval of the Pokagon Gaming Commission.

However, just because the casino isn’t obligated to adhere to Indiana's regulations, doesn’t imply that there won’t be any safety precautions related to coronavirus. There may be some gamblers who would be reluctant to visit casinos unless there are new safety guidelines implemented.

Patrons of tribal casinos should anticipate new safety measures, even if they diverge from Indiana’s suggestions. Further information about these policies will be available after the Pokagon Gaming Commission’s hearing.

Regarding the remaining casinos in Indiana, there are no confirmed reopening dates yet. The IGC is still in the process of approving the plans for their reopening.

Should Horseshoe Hammond fail to meet its June 14 reopening goal, Four Winds will hold the distinction of being the first casino to reopen in the Hoosier State. Once available, updates for all non-tribal casinos will be posted on the IGC’s website.

Jake Garza Avatar
Written by
Jake Garza

Jake Garza serves as a US Gambling Industry Analyst at Catena Media, focusing on Midwest sports betting and casino content. Before delving into the legal gambling sector, he was a professional sports writer, covering teams like the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, and Indiana Pacers. Presently, Garza holds the position of Managing Editor for Play Indiana and PlayOhio. He has also had stints with other recognized brands including PlayIllinois and PlayMichigan. Since 2019, Garza has been reporting on the gambling industry, and collaborates with a team of journalists to deliver extensive coverage of the legal U.S. gambling scene.

View all posts by Jake Garza