South Bend's Four Winds Casino opens as first tribal casino in Indiana

South Bend's Four Winds Casino opens as first tribal casino in Indiana. // WSBT 22

The wait is over, Four Winds Casino South Bend officially opened Tuesday.

It's been a little over a year since crews broke ground, but leaders say it's much more than just a couple of hours of fun and games.

Four Winds South Bend has 1,800 slot machines and many braved the cold to be some of the first to try them out.

"Were going to hit the slots and hopefully a 20 will turn into 200,” said Brenda Hazinski.

“I've been looking forward for them to open a casino in town.,” said Cecilia Crandell.

But this casino is more than just those slots and the 4 restaurants. It's the first tribal casino in the state of Indiana.

For members of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, it's been a long time coming.

“It's a significant day. We knew back in 1995 but someday this will happen we're just glad it's finally here,” said Matthew Wesaw, tribal council member at large. “We're very patient people so yeah it is a dream we knew would be a reality.”

The importance of the opening wasn't lost on city leaders, either.

“You look at the growth in the growth and what's happening economically there's a lot of momentum in the city right now. But one thing that will be on the history books even 100 years from now is that the first time there was ever a federally recognized tribal land in the state of Indiana, it was right here in South Bend,” said Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

The city of South Bend will get 2-percent of the net win here at Four Winds. That money will be used in different ways, going to places like redevelopment and South Bend schools.

"We wanted to make sure that if this was going to happen, that it's going to be a benefit for everybody whether they ever come to this facility or not and that's what I believe we've been able to work out with the tribe," said Buttigieg.

The casino's design is similar to the one in New Buffalo, except it's a little smaller and doesn't have table games.

Four winds leaders say they took what was good from the other casinos and brought it here.

For players, overall, they say they're impressed.

“I've called all my friends and they've called me and we are all meeting here it looks beautiful," said Crandell.

Four Winds South Bend is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

WSBT 22's Jessi Schultz was at the ribbon cutting:

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