THRIVING TRIBAL CASINOS IN THE MIDWEST
A Look at Prominent Native American Destinations
By Karrie L. Zukowski
The Midwest region is characterized by its diverse landscapes, encompassing lakes, mountains, expansive plains and upland areas. The most prominent feature is the vast and fertile plains that play a pivotal role in producing a signiﬁcant portion of the nation’s crops. However, with the enactment of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in 1988, numerous tribes were well prepared to embark on a journey that has sparked a remarkable surge in the establishment of Native American casinos in recent years. Tribal gaming has grown into a thriving trend, making the excitement of gambling and the casino lifestyle a reality nationwide.
The tribal properties of the Midwest have not only thrived but have also risen to prominence within the casino industry, boasting some of the largest and most well-equipped destinations in the country. The following is a detailed exploration of some of the foremost tribal properties and their oﬀerings.
FIREKEEPERS CASINO HOTEL Battle Creek, MI
If you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting FireKeepers, you might be curious about what makes this place truly special. It all comes down to a simple formula that every casino enthusiast dreams of: the exceptional ownership by the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi in tribal gaming, combined with the outstanding service provided by over 2,000 dedicated Team Members, all set against the backdrop of a stunning property that consistently introduces new and renovated features. This is what makes FireKeepers a prime destination for gaming in the Midwest.
With its 443-room AAA Four-Diamond luxury hotel, a Vegas-style casino, an array of top-notch restaurants and a vibrant Event Center hosting fantastic live events, FireKeepers stands out as a must-visit destination. The FireKeepers Casino Hotel boasts a 111,700-square-foot gaming ﬂoor featuring 2,900 slot machines, over 70 gaming tables and a live poker room with 26 tables. Guests at FireKeepers Casino Hotel can choose from a range of stylishly designed rooms and suites, all equipped with high-end amenities that guarantee an unforgettable stay. Moreover, all hotel guests can enjoy a host of facilities, including a lavish multi-level pool, a steam room and sauna, an exercise room and a business center. Additionally, in-room high-speed internet access, dry cleaning, laundry service and ADA-accessible rooms are available upon request.
A visit to FireKeepers wouldn’t be complete without indulging in their exceptional dining oﬀerings. Nibi, FireKeepers’ signature restaurant, has received multiple Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence. Now situated in the new hotel promenade, the moment you step into Nibi, you’ll recognize that you’re in for an unparalleled dining experience. Whether you’re savoring the exquisite fresh seafood or savoring the thick, succulent rib-eyes, Nibi is where extraordinary meals, cherished companions and unforgettable evenings converge. Their commitment to service, style and taste consistently shines.
For those with diverse tastes, there are other delectable options ready to satisfy your cravings. Smoke ’n Fire, newly renovated and conveniently located just oﬀ the hotel lobby and a stone’s throw from the casino, is the ideal choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. With a menu that lives up to the name Smoke ’n Fire, you can expect a mouthwatering selection of dishes, including new steak creations and beloved BBQ classics.
Café 24/7, serving timeless comfort foods with a contemporary twist, oﬀers a relaxing setting for a meal or a quick recharge. Plus, its proximity to the casino ﬂoor ensures you’re never far from the irresistible energy and excitement that FireKeepers has to oﬀer.
Dacey’s Sportsbook & Taphouse is the ultimate destination for sports enthusiasts in Michigan, oﬀering thrilling wagering opportunities and an immersive big-game experience seven days a week. The Taphouse is a haven for craft beer lovers, boasting an impressive selection of 50 taps, including numerous top-notch Michigan craft brews. The ambiance is enhanced by massive big-screen TVs that ensure you won’t miss a moment of the action, along with a tantalizing menu to satisfy your taste buds.
Easily accessible via a separate exterior entrance, the Taphouse stands out with its distinctive 18-foot barrel, making it a recognizable spot from virtually anywhere on the gaming ﬂoor. The bar provides ample seating on its main ﬂoor, and there’s a mezzanine level perfectly suited for private parties and special events, adding an extra layer of excitement to your visit.
With headline entertainment and big-screen sporting events, one visit and you’ll see why FireKeepers is the hottest entertainment venue around. Upcoming shows include The Oak Ridge Boys – Down Home Christmas, Dec.7; and Queen Nation, Dec. 29.
For more information, visit www.ﬁrekeeperscasino.com.
FOUR WINDS CASINO NEW BUFFALO New Buﬀalo, MI
Embark on a getaway to Four Winds New Buﬀalo, nestled along the Southwest Michigan shoreline. Situated just a short distance from the picturesque beach town of New Buﬀalo, MI, and the serene shores of Lake Michigan, Four Winds New Buﬀalo, belonging to the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, stands as a luxurious casino resort that’s truly unparalleled in the region.
As the ﬂagship of a quartet of locations, including Dowagiac and Hartford, MI, and South Bend, IN, Four Winds New Buﬀalo proudly showcases two impressive hotel towers. These towers comprise a total of 415 rooms and 152 suites, all of which come complete with exceptional guest service and a host of delightful, special touches. Anticipate the very ﬁnest in sophisticated décor and accommodations, tantalizing cuisine, vibrant entertainment and an exhilarating nightlife scene.
Four Winds New Buﬀalo also features an outdoor swimming pool and patio area including a full- service bar, hot tub, ﬁreplace and two ﬁre pits. Bask by the pool in comfortable chaise lounges or party into the night with live entertainment, drink specials and dining.
At Four Winds New Buﬀalo, the gaming ﬂoor is a haven with over 2,000 of your favorite slot machines, some of which oﬀer the area’s most substantial jackpots, with progressives that kick oﬀ at an impressive $100,000! Whether you’re inclined to try your luck with penny slots or the more daring $100 machines, you’ll discover a wide array of exhilarating and popular titles to cater to every preference.
The expansive gaming ﬂoor also boasts 41 table games, providing an array of options for players. You can engage in various blackjack games, including Free Bet Blackjack, Blackjack with Lucky Lucky and Blackjack with 21 + 3 & Top 3. Additionally, there are games like High Card Flush, Criss Cross Poker, Craps, Bonus Craps and No Way Craps, as well as Heads- Up Hold’Em, Crazy 4 Poker, Mississippi Stud Progressive, Mini and Midi Baccarat with Dragon Bonus & 5-Treasures, roulette, Progressive Bonus Spin Xtreme with Criss Cross, and select Lucky Lucky games. To top it oﬀ, you can also enjoy Three-Card Poker Progressive and Pai Gow Plus for a comprehensive gaming experience.
Experience the exquisite dining options at Four Winds New Buﬀalo, where you can choose from a quartet of acclaimed restaurants. Indulge in a culinary journey at Copper Rock Steakhouse, renowned for its USDA Prime 55-day dry-aged steaks, delectable cold-water lobster, gourmet desserts and a wine list of 275 selections so extensive that it has garnered the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for an impressive 13 consecutive years.
For a modern twist on comfort foods, head over to Kankakee Grille, where you can savor hearth- baked pizzas, savory soups and salads, beloved hometown classics and more. This is the ultimate destination in the area to relish delectable cuisine, a diverse assortment of craft beers, specialty cocktails and live entertainment.
Four Winds New Buﬀalo’s Silver Creek Event Center is a modern, multi-use facility that is located adjacent to the casino ﬂoor. In addition to hosting concerts, the 17,000-square-foot event center is often reconﬁgured to host large meetings, special events, conferences and banquets. Upcoming shows include Michael Bolton, Dec. 8; Holiday Dreams, A Spectacular Holiday Cirque!, Dec. 16 & 17; and Tony Orlando, Jan. 6, 2024.
Visit www.fourwindscasino.com for more information on all of Four Wind’s properites.
SOARING EAGLE CASINO & RESORT Mount Pleasant, MI
The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is the proud owner of one of the premier casino/resort complexes in the world—the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort is home to the most action-packed gaming ﬂoor in Michigan. Located in beautiful Mount Pleasant, Soaring Eagle is an idyllic Midwest destination of pure gaming excitement and a place where you can also immerse yourself in luxury and escape the everyday.
Unwind in the comfort of their AAA Four Diamond-rated ﬁrst-class rooms and premium suites that are a retreat all on their own. No matter which of their fresh, well-appointed guest rooms and suites you choose, this is comfort that indulges your senses with everything from patio or balcony options to double-headed walk-in glass showers to deluxe ﬁreplaces. Their dedicated and friendly staﬀ will make sure everything is perfect, exceeding all your expectations.
You can feel your pulse quicken the moment you walk in the casino, and the thrill of winning is just a push of the button away! With thousands of state-of-the-art slots in this players’ paradise, including progressives, you’re sure to ﬁnd your favorite games. Take a spin on the new and exciting slots always being introduced on the main gaming ﬂoor and at the Slot Palace. Table game enthusiasts will experience the widest variety of electrifying table game action, including roulette, craps, blackjack, 3-Card Poker and more. Your favorite is always close at hand.
Soaring Eagle Bingo is the largest in Michigan and THE spot for the best bingo action in the Midwest. So, bring your good luck charms and get in the game. Bingo runs every Wednesday thru Sunday with schedules in the morning, afternoon and evening.
But the lucky streak doesn’t stop on the game ﬂoor. Whether you crave ﬁne dining, casual comfort food, quick bites or something to satisfy that sweet tooth, Soaring Eagle does it right. Prepare to indulge from the moment you are seated at these award-winning restaurants:
Siniikaung Bistro is a full-service restaurant that combines the American Bistro experience with an innovative cocktail menu and modern interpretations on classic dishes made from scratch using only the freshest international ingredients. Siniikaung Bistro has approachable food with approachable prices.
Ruth’s Chris Steak House, where your last bite is just as good as your ﬁrst.
Ascend Sports Book & Lounge is the place to watch, wager and win on all things sports as well as many televised sporting events. With many large-screen TVs and plenty of seating, there’s no better place to keep the live sports action in full view. Enjoy great food, specialty drinks, craft beer and an unparalleled dining experience.
Legends Diner has all of the classic diner-style favorites. Everything from mouth-watering burgers, dogs and sandwiches to delectable desserts such as malts, ﬂoats, sundaes and, of course, their famous banana splits.
Little Eagle Café, located in the Slot Palace, features popular comfort foods like burgers, sandwiches, hot dogs, fries, chicken wings and much more. The Little Eagle Café also serves several breakfast favorites.
Looking for a sweet treat or delicious pick-me-up? Native Grind features a cafe-style menu with custom-roasted whole bean coﬀee, housemade artisan breads, pastries, cakes, pies, cookies, ice cream and more. If you can’t start the day, or keep the night rolling, without your java, this is your happy place.
Soaring Eagle is Mid-Michigan’s entertainment destination for the biggest names in music, comedy and more. These are the star-studded shows everyone is talking about. Upcoming, “can’t miss” shows are Clint Black, Friday Dec. 1; Jay Leno with Arsenio Hall, Friday Dec. 8; Kenny G Holiday Tour, Sunday Dec. 10; Smokey Robinson, Wednesday, Dec. 27; and Great White w/Quiet Riot, Friday Dec 29.
Plan your getaway today online at SoaringEagleCasino.com or call 1-877-2-EAGLE
TREASURE ISLAND RESORT & CASINO Welch, MN
From its modest origins as a bingo hall, Treasure Island Resort & Casino has evolved into one of the premier resort destinations in the region. It oﬀers top-tier gaming, a wide array of amenities, luxurious accommodations and nationally renowned entertainment.
The gaming ﬂoor at Treasure Island encompasses more than 1,800 slot machines, video poker and video keno machines, along with 44 table games and a recently revamped 500-seat high-stakes bingo hall.
Whether you seek opulent luxury or a return to the essentials, Treasure Island has it all. The resort boasts Minnesota’s second-largest hotel, a marina with 137 slips, a 94-site RV park and campground and a host of family- friendly amenities.
The resort’s 788-room hotel has three towers—Buﬀalo, Eagle and Wolf—boasting luxurious accommodations including two-room Island Paradise suites and exclusive Presidential and Governor suites. Additional hotel amenities oﬀer fun for all ages. From the swim-up bar, water slides and lazy river of The Lagoon indoor water park, to 24 lanes of action-packed excitement at Island Xtreme Bowl, Cyber Quest arcade and Kids Quest childcare, there is something for every member of the family.
Providing endless serenity in a modern and tranquil environment, Wave Spa oﬀers massages, facials, hair services and the best in self-care products. Guests can trade in everyday stress for rest and relaxation or bring the spa experience home with top-of-the-line hair care, skin care, cosmetics and nail care products.
Is hunger knocking at your door? Satisfy your cravings with delectable delights. Whether you’re craving an all-day breakfast from Currents Restaurant, a swift and tasty bite from Mongo Bay Grill or a mouthwatering specialty from Tado Steakhouse, you’ll discover a delightful array of timeless classics and delectable culinary innovations across Treasure Island’s dining choices. And if your idea of fun involves a well-crafted cocktail, be sure to visit one of the nine bars where you can unwind with your beverage of choice.
Priding itself in oﬀering the best live entertainment in the region, the 16,000-seat Treasure Island Amphitheater has hosted A-list acts such as Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Lizzo, Kid Rock and Willie Nelson every summer since it opened in 2017. Inside the casino, national acts can also be found in a more intimate concert setting at the Island Event Center, a 2,800-seat indoor venue. Upcoming acts include Nick Swardson, Nov 25; Bush, Dec. 1; Home Free, Dec. 9; and Deal or No Deal Live, Dec. 15-17.
Set apart from others in the state, Treasure Island is the only casino in Minnesota located along the Mississippi River. This allows guests the ease of arriving by boat and docking at The Island’s 137-slip marina. Furthermore, Treasure Island oﬀers a 95-site RV park and a 100-passenger yacht, Spirit of the Water.
To learn more about Treasure Island Resort & Casino, visit their website at www.TIcasino.com.
MESKWAKI BINGO CASINO HOTEL Tama, IA
Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel is more than just another night out. With 67,553 square feet of endless casino games, a fully stocked bar and friendly, happy-to-help staﬀ, the gaming ﬂoor at Meskwaki is your go-to place for a good time!
Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel oﬀers guests 366 hotel rooms, a lounge featuring live music, as well as multiple food venues. The lobby features many museum-quality displays of Meskwaki artifacts and photos, showing guests a long and proud Native American heritage.
Get those reels spinning and buttons clicking! Meskwaki presents an extensive selection of slot machines, encompassing more than 1,300 choices, spanning from penny slots to high-stakes $100 machines, and covering a wide spectrum of game types, including mechanical reel, video reel, video poker, video keno, video 21 and local area progressives. Notably, Meskwaki’s slots rank among the most generous in the state, as conﬁrmed by the payout statistics from the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission. Raise the stakes and visit the high-limit slot room with 68 machines that pay out big time. High Limit Slots include Triple Strike, Reel Gems, Triple Gold Bars, Mustang Money 2, Dollaroo, Da Vinci Diamonds and Thunder Cash, to name a few.
Play your favorite table games all day, every day at Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel. Blackjack, craps, baccarat, roulette and more—take your pick of 25 total tables and nine diﬀerent games. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, they’ve got limits ranging from $5-$2,000, guaranteeing a good time.
Prepare to shout “BINGO!” At Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel, you can enjoy bingo all day, with both afternoon and evening sessions, within the spacious 550-seat Bingo Parlor. The excitement reaches new heights with Progressive Pots and $1,199 Saturday sessions every month. You have the ﬂexibility to pick between the traditional paper method or the electronic option for your play.
Be a part of the action—there’s nothing like a live show, whether it’s a rock star, a comedy act, a local legend or a country chart-topper. Upcoming shows include Farm Rock, Nov. 24 & 25; Passion, Dec. 1 & 2; Christmas with the Nelsons, Dec. 2; and Cody Hicks, Dec. 8 & 9.
For more information, visit www.meskwaki.com.
WHAT TO WATCH
Gun Lake Casino (Wayland, MI)
The expansion at Gun Lake Casino by the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Gun Lake Tribe) is well underway. In May 2022, the casino broke ground on Phase 5, a $300 million project featuring a hotel and spa, additional dining venues, and the Aquadome.
The 15-ﬂoor hotel tower will oﬀer 252 rooms, including 30 suites and a two-story Ogema suite with luxurious features like a grand staircase, indoor/outdoor dining areas, two bedrooms, and ﬂoor-to- ceiling windows.
The Aquadome is a highlight of the expansion, featuring a fully enclosed glass atrium with natural light and an indoor resort pool environment. It will also serve as a high-energy entertainment venue suitable for a nightclub or concert atmosphere. The expansion is scheduled for completion in spring 2025.
WarHorse Casino (Omaha, NE)
A new WarHorse Casino will debut in Omaha at Horsemen’s Park in summer 2024. The company is a division of Ho- Chunk Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. The group is partnering with the track for the new gaming facility and recently broke ground on the new casino, which will include 1,200 slots, 20 table games, a sportsbook, live and simulcast horse racing and a variety of dining options including a sports bar and cafe.
WarHorse is also in the process of bringing a gaming facility to Lincoln. The company unveiled a temporary facility in Sept. 2022 and when completed, it will double in size by adding 870 slot machines, up to 10 table games and expanded dining.