Casino gambling is poised to resume in at least one Indiana location, and three in nearby southwestern Michigan, later this month.
The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, which operates the Four Winds Casinos on both sides of the state line, announced Monday it is targeting June 15 for reopening its casinos amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We've been closely monitoring the data related to the spread of COVID-19, consulting with medical experts, and evaluating the potential impact the virus could have on our community and employees," said Matthew Wesaw, tribal council chairman.
"Although we are a sovereign nation, we've also considered recommendations from the federal government, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and governors from both Michigan and Indiana, before setting June 15 as our target date for reopening."
Wesaw did not specify the precautions casino employees and patrons will be required to follow in connection with the reopening of the Four Winds South Bend Casino, and the tribe's Michigan casinos in New Buffalo, Hartford and Dowagiac.
He said the Pokagon Health Task Force is developing a reopening plan that's set to be evaluated and approved June 8 by the Pokagon Gaming Commission, along with the June 15 reopening date.
"It is possible that this date could change due to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, but we will continue to monitor the situation as we work towards this reopening goal," Wesaw said.
Frank Freedman, Four Winds Casinos chief operating officer, said the casinos have begun the process of recalling their employees in anticipation of getting final tribal consent to open their doors to the public for the first time since March 17.
"We look forward to sharing the details of our reopening plan once they are approved so our guests know what to expect and have an enjoyable entertainment experience when visiting one of our Four Winds Casino locations once we reopen," Freedman said.
There still is no firm reopening date for Indiana's 13 state-regulated casinos that were closed March 16 to minimize the potential spread of the coronavirus, including the riverboats in Hammond, East Chicago, Gary and Michigan City.
The Indiana Gaming Commission has said the casinos it oversees are unlikely to reopen prior to the June 14 start of stage four in Gov. Eric Holcomb's five-stage "Back on Track" plan for restoring normal business operations by July 4.
More than 5,000 Northwest Indiana casino workers have lost their jobs during the two-and-a-half months Region casinos have been shuttered.