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Four Winds Casino Approaches First Anniversary

9 July 2008

This August will mark the first anniversary of the grand opening of Four Winds Casino Resort in the scenic resort town of New Buffalo, Michigan.

In a relatively short period of time, the property, which is managed by Lakes Entertainment for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, has made quite an impact on the Northwest Indiana and greater Chicago area gaming markets.

"I've been impressed by the incredible reaction we've had from guests who come through the property," general manager Matt Harkness said. "They seem very happy with having this type of product available to them in this market.

"As you know, we had almost 20,000 people apply for 2,000 jobs, so we really picked the best of the best in this area, people that can deliver an outstanding level of service and have been doing so on a consistent basis."

With 3,000 slots and 100 table games spread across a gigantic 130,000 sq. ft. gaming floor, space is not at a premium at Four Winds.

A 165-room luxury hotel complex, six dining venues, four distinctive bars, a World Poker Tour branded poker room and a retail promenade are among the other amenities.

"I came from the Atlantic City market, where I had worked my whole career," Harkness said. "Coming here was a great opportunity. Every market is different, and this market has unique aspects. There are a lot of similarities as well in the respect that in Atlantic City we were very close to Philadelphia and New York. This property is very close to Chicago and Detroit. Atlantic City is a resort town, New Buffalo is a resort town."

Harkness noted that while some changes have been made, they haven't been major ones, and they were made "because our guests told us that's what they wanted".

"One of the things we heard overwhelmingly is that our guests wanted a club, a Player's Lounge," Harkness said. "That's one major change that we have made and it has worked out extremely well."

The new player's lounge for Copper Level (top tier) W Club members was developed at the location previously occupied by the seafood restaurant, Swimm. Open seven days a week, the lounge serves pizza from a wood burning oven, shrimp cocktail, prime rib and desserts. A full-service cash bar is also available.

Four Winds recently launched an aggressive media advertising campaign in the Chicago market.

"Chicago is a huge market, an affluent market, and a very short drive from Chicago," Harkness noted. "We're as close to Chicago as Michigan gets. Now that we're established, a lot of people are starting to recognize exactly what this property is all about."

With nearby Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Indiana, opening a new 22-story, 302-room hotel tower in late 2008, Harkness is looking for the market to expand.

"Your competitors don't sit still," he said. "The Blue Chip expansion benefits the entire market. That's a normal process in casino gaming. When a property improves, its competitors improve along with it. The opening of this property has been a catalyst to a number of properties to maybe take another look at their product."

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp