By LOU MUMFORD
South Bend Tribune
2:54 PM EST, February 25, 2013
DOWAGIAC — If gambling appeals to you, as it does to many in the area as reflected by the success of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ Four Winds casinos in New Buffalo and Hartford, Mich., there soon will be another venue available to perhaps claim a jackpot.
On Monday, tribal officials provided news media with a peek of the new Four Winds Casino on Michigan 51 South in Dowagiac. Although much smaller than the tribe’s gaming facility in New Buffalo and half the size of the Pokagons’ spin-off casino in Hartford, it appears the facility will still feature many of the amenities available at the other casinos.
The casino’s opening, anticipated in the spring at a date yet to be announced, was termed “significant’’ by tribal Chairman Matt Wesaw as Dowagiac is the home not only of offices of the tribal government but a number of tribal members. And it’s tribal members who will receive first crack at the more than 100 full- and part-time jobs available at the casino.
It’s no wonder Wesaw kicked off Monday’s event with a comment reflecting the employment opportunities as they relate to the tribe.
“It’s just another great day to be a Pokagon,’’ he said.
A recent job fair attracted a reported 300 people but as many as 900 have applied for the positions thus far.
As for specifics regarding the Dowagiac facility, Matt Harkness, general manager for Four Winds Casinos, said it will feature 300 slot machines, or about half the amount at Four Winds Hartford and 10 percent of the number at Four Winds New Buffalo. Four table games also will be available, as will a “Timbers” restaurant with seating for 30.
“It will have the same look and feel as the other two properties,’’ Harkness said, referring to the New Buffalo and Hartford casinos.
Some of the slot machines in Dowagiac, he added, will be linked to similar machines in place at other tribal casinos throughout the country, thus allowing for so-called “progressive’’ jackpots. Four Winds properties, the first of which opened in New Buffalo in 2007, have had slot players hit jackpots amounting to more than $1 million, Harkness said.
The casinos in New Buffalo and Hartford have been extremely popular, based on figures submitted to the Michigan Gaming Control Board. Between Aug. 1, 2011, and July 31, 2012, slot machines alone at the two properties generated just more than $344 million, with $292 million deposited at Four Winds New Buffalo and some $52 million at Four Winds Hartford.
The tribe doesn’t discuss casino revenue, used to support tribal programs and the tribe in general, but the MGCB figures indicate that slot machine revenue between the two casinos, coupled with the take on table games, have generated an average of a little more than $1 million a day. Revenue from Four Winds Dowagiac, a roughly 20,000-square-foot facility, will boost that average.
Anyone interested in applying for a job at the Dowagiac property can do so at www.fourwindscasino.com/employment.
Staff writer Lou Mumford: email@example.com 269-687-3551
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