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

Posted on June 3, 2020

Four Winds Casino in South Bend, IN, could reopen by mid-June.

Indiana casinos closed in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ever since then, Hoosier State casinos have been eager to open back up. Obviously, the downtime hasn’t been good for the industry.

Since Indiana doesn’t have legal online casino gaming, online sports betting apps have been the gambling industry’s only source of income. That’s already led to a record-low handle for the state in April.

However, as casinos around Indiana start to reopen, the downward trend will reverse itself over the summer.

Four Winds needs OK before reopening

All of Indiana’s casinos will reopen sometime between June 14 and July 4. That’s assuming the Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) is satisfied with each casino’s reopening strategies.

Four Winds is targeting June 15 as its reopening date, which would make it the first casino in the state to reopen. The Four Winds locations in Michigan will reopen the same day.

However, Four Winds still needs final approval from the Pokagon Gaming Commission before the reopening date is set in stone.

“The Four Winds Casinos operations team has been working closely with the Pokagon Gaming Authority, the Pokagon Gaming Commission and the Pokagon Health Task Force to develop a reopening plan. Pending approval of the plan from the Pokagon Gaming Commission and notification to the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), Four Winds Casinos will proceed to reopen.”

The commission’s next hearing is on June 8, so Four Winds could get that approval early next week.

Horseshoe Hammond is the only other Indiana casino, so far, that’s announced its target reopening date.

As the most profitable retail casino in the state, Horseshoe Hammond is looking to open as early as possible. Because of that, it’s targeting June 14 for reopening.

Tribal casinos can play by their own rules

Since Four Winds is a tribal casino, it isn’t subject to the same rules as the rest of Indiana’s casinos.

In order to reopen, the rest of the state’s casinos have to submit a detailed plan to the IGC. Those plans will either be approved or denied, depending on whether or not the IGC says the plans are enough to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Even after they manage to reopen, the casinos have to maintain a laundry list of requirements. It includes taking the temperature of every customer and constantly cleaning chips, surfaces and dice.

Four Winds doesn’t have to follow any of those IGC guidelines. Since it’s a tribal casino, it can reopen as long as the Pokagon Gaming Commission is satisfied.

However, because the casino doesn’t have to follow Indiana’s rules, it doesn’t mean there won’t be any coronavirus-related safety measures in place. Some gamblers may be hesitant to visit casinos without some new guidelines in place.

Tribal casino patrons should expect some new safety practices, even if they’re different from Indiana’s recommendations. After the Pokagon Gaming Commission’s hearing, there will be more information about those policies.

As far as the rest of Indiana’s casinos go, there aren’t any firm dates for reopening yet. The IGC is still working on approving the casino’s reopening plans.

If Horseshoe Hammond misses its June 14 target date, Four Winds will be the first casino in the Hoosier State to reopen. Updates for every non-tribal casino will be on the IGC’s website when they’re available.

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Jake Garza

Jake Garza is a sports writer based in Indianapolis, IN. He's an Indiana University graduate who's spent time as a sports reporter covering teams at the prep, collegiate and professional levels.

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