Mary Jo Varga, one of three property shift managers at Four Winds Dowagiac on M-51 South. The Pokagon Band’s third casino officially opens at noon Tuesday. (Leader photo/JOHN EBY)
Mary Jo Varga, one of three property shift managers at Four Winds Dowagiac on M-51 South. The Pokagon Band’s third casino officially opens at noon Tuesday. (Leader photo/JOHN EBY)

Archived Story

Casino staff excited about opening

Published 1:02pm Monday, April 29, 2013

“It hit me today, hearing the machines going,” Mary Jo Varga said Monday. “It’s been so quiet when we’ve been in here,” preparing for Tuesday’s noon opening of the Pokagon Band’s third casino, Four Winds Dowagiac.

Varga is one of three property shift managers backing up Assistant General Manager Frank Freedman, along with Eugene Magnuson and Duane Meyers.

“On my way up here Saturday, I was thinking about when I worked on the government side from 2000 to 2005,” she said. “Now I’m back in Dowagiac, but everything has come along so far. Dowagiac is a lot closer to my home in Mishawaka and feels like home. It was an hour to Hartford. I can’t believe how far we’ve come. It’s unbelievably exciting.”

Varga started in New Buffalo in May before it opened in August 2007.

“I was a financial analyst, so I did a lot of reporting on the gaming aspect,” she said. “I worked ‘back of the house’ for food and beverage. I went to Hartford as an assistant property manager and was promoted in November.”

“Now they have me out front. I went to school for accounting and business. I actually worked for the government side of the tribe from 2000 to 2005. My original plan was to start here and see where it takes me. When I first started, I wasn’t seeing myself in this capacity, but it’s a really great opportunity. Providing great guest service is our main focus, and scheduling to make sure we have staff to run everything. We oversee everything here, including the restaurant.”

“I love the excitement of seeing everybody happy with the entertainment they’re receiving,” she said. “There’s something different every day. We have so many directors, managers and line-level staff at all three casinos who have so much experience, and have come from all over the world, actually. If you don’t know something, you have an expert” to consult. “It’s an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of everything. It’s exciting. We’re finally here.”

 

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