Pokagon Band casinos deal $35M into region

Pokagon Band casinos deal $35M into region

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The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians — owners of the Four Winds casinos in New Buffalo and Hartford — has calculated that its “additional contributions” to the state and local economy were equal to almost $35 million in 2012, not including its revenue-sharing payments.

The Pokagon Band, which is headquartered in Dowagiac, announced that its additional contributions do not include the value of jobs and other “ancillary benefits” created by the casino or the annual payments the tribe makes to the state and local governments under its casino compact with the state.

“We felt it was important to make additional investments in the communities of southwest Michigan and northern Indiana through our Pokagon Fund and other direct donations to various charitable causes and events,” said Matt Wesaw, chairman of the Pokagon Band.

“The Pokagon Band also makes it a priority to support local vendors and hire locally for our gaming operations and other ventures," he said. "Throughout the year, we have also worked to improve the environment through initiatives, including our water-quality program and our wetlands-reserve program.”

The tribe reports it paid $25 million to 3,132 vendors nationwide in 2012, of which $15 million was spent with 1,332 vendors in Michigan and $1.5 million with 372 vendors in Indiana. The Pokagon Fund — which is supported by a percentage of the slot machine revenue from the Four Winds New Buffalo — provided $2.6 million in grants to various projects in the New Buffalo region.

The Pokagon Band made payments of $5.6 million to the New Buffalo Local Revenue Sharing Board and $1 million to the Hartford Local Revenue Sharing Board in 2012.

The Pokagon Band made compact-stipulated payments to the state government amounting to $21.1 million, covering August 2011 through July 2012 — more than any other tribal casino in Michigan, according to information provided by the Michigan Gaming Control department.

The Pokagon Band and its casinos also made more than $365,000 in in-kind donations in 2012 to various foundations and charitable causes in southwest Michigan and northern Indiana.

The tribe’s 4,500 members live in 10 counties: four in Michigan and six in Indiana.

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