"A little Four Winds" casino officially opened at noon Tuesday, adding 400 jobs to the Van Buren County community from 12,000 applicants.

Archived Story

Four Winds opens second casino

Published 4:51pm Thursday, September 1, 2011

Located at 68600 Red Arrow Highway, Four Winds Hartford is about 2 1/2 miles west of the city between exits 41 and 46 on Interstate 94 and 45 miles northeast of the Dowagiac-based Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians’ Four Winds Casino Resort in New Buffalo — the experience which opened in Berrien County in August 2007 it aims to replicate.
“Hartford is an area that is home to a large number of Pokagon citizens and we are extremely proud to open a new Four Winds Casino here,” Matt Wesaw, chairman of the Pokagon Band, said Monday. “Four Winds Hartford has created approximately 400 new jobs within the casino in addition to the hundreds of jobs that were created during construction. We look forward to welcoming area residents to our new facility.”
Maintaining a similar look and feel in design and finishes to Four Winds New Buffalo, Four Winds Hartford features 500 slot machines, nine table games, including blackjack and roulette, a 100-seat restaurant called Timbers Fast Food and Deli and a 15-seat bar.
Four Winds Hartford is also home to Four Winds Outfitters gift shop, where guests can find logo apparel, tribal artwork and other merchandise.
Matt Harkness, general manager, who guided the Aug. 29 media tour, commented, “When Four Winds New Buffalo opened in August 2007, it set a new standard for gaming in the Midwest. We are thrilled to bring the same high level of service to Hartford along with the exceptional gaming experience and promotions available at Four Winds New Buffalo.
ur path to independence,” Wesaw said. “It was 49 months ago when we were in a very similar situation — the opening of Four Winds New Buffalo. At that time, a satellite property wasn’t even under consideration. Things that occurred that allowed that to happen aren’t important. What really is important in my mind is that we gained the confidence, the experience and the ability that gave us the courage to exercise our sovereignty and open Four Winds Hartford. The opening of Four Winds Hartford allows us to continue our efforts to improve the quality of life of our citizens and build upon and improve our programs and services. The ability to provide jobs to the significant number of our citizens who live in the Hartford area is a critical component of our responsibility as leaders of our community. We are thrilled to bring this first-class entertainment facility along with approximately 400 new jobs filled from 12,000 applicants during the hiring process. We expect the casino to support the development of ancillary businesses in this area.”
Harkness remarked, “This property has 52,000-square-feet. About half of that is gaming space. It has the same look and feel as New Buffalo. We’ve had people say, ‘It’s a little Four Winds,’ and it is because the branding we have at New Buffalo has been so successful. We’re co-marketing. Players’ cards work here or in New Buffalo. That’s a great benefit to people who are currently customers in New Buffalo. We’re going to have wide-area progressive slot machines with $1 million, life-changing jackpots. We’ve had quite a few people hit at that level in New Buffalo.”
“We have the ability to expand if the market proves it necessary to add another 500 machines,” said Wesaw, who expects the compact casino to be a good draw for local players who might not want to travel to New Buffalo at gas prices between $3.50 to $4 a gallon. About 100 employees are tribal members.
The Pokagon Band announced July 1 that Four Winds New Buffalo would expand to include another 250 hotel rooms and a multi-use event center.
Construction is expected to be completed next summer.
The Pokagon Band closed on a $410 million refinancing which will be used for payment of outstanding bonds and loans used for development and operation of Four Winds Casino Resort.
A new nine-story hotel tower containing 250 hotel rooms will be situated adjacent to the current hotel towers. It will contain a mix of suites and standard rooms furnished in the same style as current rooms. Once the new hotel tower opens, Four Winds Casino Resort will have 415 rooms total.
The multi-use event center will be located next to the casino and can be configured in a variety of ways, including a 1,600-seat entertainment space that will feature concerts by major headline acts. The space will also be available for a variety of special events, conferences and banquets.
The Pokagon Band has also moved into its new community center on Dailey Road, just south of Southwestern Michigan College.
All Four Winds W Club members can win a share of $150,000 at either Four Winds location, including a grand prize of $100,000 cash, on Sunday, Sept. 4, during Labor Day weekend.
Additionally, new players who sign up for Four Winds W Club membership at either casino location can receive up to $400 in free slot play, earn points and redeem direct mail offers and promotional giveaways at both properties.
More information on this promotion is available at the W Club inside each casino location.
Top-tier Copper Club members visiting Four Winds Hartford can access a dedicated entrance on the east side of the building with priority parking.

More information about Four Winds Hartford is available on the Web at www.fourwindscasino.com. You must be 21 years of age to gamble.

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