Study Shows New South Bend Venue Could Harm Economy

by Jim Hall

A recent study conducted in Indiana shows the state’s economy may be impacted in a negative manner when it comes to a new casino plan in South Bend.

Whenever a new gaming venue is to be created in a state of the US, the plans are considered carefully in many ways. Local legislators will review the plans along with gambling regulators, municipalities, casino associations, etc. When plans are announced, individuals and groups will come forward in support as well as against new casino gaming venues. As conflict arises, studies will be done to see the impact on the environment, economy and other areas of interest. For the state of Indiana, a study was recently conducted to see how a new casino in South Bend would impact the region.

Results of the Study

Casino Association of IndianaThe Casino Association of Indiana conducted the study on the tribal casino plans and found that the casino addition in South Bend could be harmful to the economy of the state. President of the Casino Association of Indiana, Matt Bell, stated that the purpose of the study was to try and illustrate as well as quantify the new reality in order to help policy makers decide about what the future of the industry would look like if a competitive threat were to exist.

The casino in question is the Four Winds Casino South Bend which would be the first tribal casino for the state. In Indiana, there are already 13 casinos in existing, all of which pay taxes to the state coffers. According to Bell, the average rate of tax is 35% of the revenues earned by the gaming venue. The Casino Association found that with taxes not being paid by the new tribal venue, the state could lose millions.

Business Support and Job Opportunities

If you ask local businesses near the proposed site for the Four Winds Casino they will tell you they are in support of the plans. Businesses see the potential for customers and that the casino will be able to give a boost to the local economy. The project is expected to open in two years, by 2018 and create as many as 1,200 jobs in the process. People in the local community who are employed by the venue will have more money due to having jobs and will use their money locally, buying gas, food, etc. This would essentially pump up the local economy of South Bend.

Money Lost

Spectrum Gaming Group also conducted a study on the gaming venue which found that state tax revenues may be reduced by as much as $355 million. As much as $282 million would be lost in gaming tax revenues plus an additional $73 million from income tax revenues. The loss is believed to take place as players head to South Bend and spend money that will not see taxes go towards the state while the tax paying venues will see a decline in patrons.

According to State Representative B. Patrick Bauer, the game tax revenue has been in decline for some time. Within the last few years, the casino dollars have went down, according to Bauer, due to Cincinnati gaming plus state competition. Bauer is responsible for the first gaming bill of Indiana and has stated that a tribal casino in the state was going to happen at some point in time.

The Pokagon Band is the tribe responsible for the South Bend gaming venue and they have yet to comment on the study’s findings. It will be interesting to see if they have any remarks or if they decide to conduct a study of their own.