Pokagon Band wins

Published 7:50 pm Saturday, March 26, 2005

By Staff
NEW BUFFALO - Federal District Judge James Robertson ruled in favor of the Dowagiac-based Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians by dismissing the last remaining issue filed in the lawsuit by Taxpayers of Michigan Against Casinos (TOMAC).
The ruling clears the way for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take a 675-acre parcel of land in Berrien County's New Buffalo Township into trust for the tribe. Once the land is taken into trust, the Pokagons will build their casino development.
Robertson's ruling was his third opinion in a lawsuit lasting more than four years.
Each ruling has dismissed additional arguments made by TOMAC in its attempt to delay or stop development of the Pokagons' casino.
TOMAC has been connected to the same law firms and public relation firms paid by Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Ind.
Blue Chip paid its former owner, Kevin Flynn, more than $7.5 million for his effort to delay the Pokagon casino development.
The Pokagons will now urge the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to move forward with its decision to take the land into trust. Then the tribe will begin formal construction of its 144,000-square-foot Four Winds Casino Resort.
It is expected that the construction will take approximately 18 months until the casino is open for business.
Four Winds Casino will be built in two phases. The first phase will include the casino, six restaurants and a parking garage for 2,200 cars. The second phase will include a hotel and special events center.
Economic studies predict the casino will support 3,500 new jobs in the community with 2,000 new jobs created directly at the casino.
There are nearly 3,000 tribal members of the Pokagon Band, approximately 1,500 of whom live in Michigan and Indiana.