Chiefs approve Lloydminster casino

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Plans for new casino construction may commence starting next month as Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nation chiefs approve this $20 million project. The casino to be laid down in Lloydminster, just east of the border with Alberta, is expected to open its doors in early 2016.

Chief Wayne Semaganis of the Little Pine First Nation admitted to being “relieved”. He continued stating that “[he had] spent five years chasing this” and that “It’s going to mean a lot of employment and revenue for our people.” Although the main partners involved in the project are the Little Pine First Nation and Onion Lake Cree Nation, there is chatter that up to 10 other tribes might invest.

Falling under the well-established agreement between the Saskatchewan provincial government and the FSIN, the casino will be a central part of a grander development, including an immense 1500-seat conference centre and a 250-room hotel.

Over the past few years, chief Semaganis tried to kick-start the project. Not respecting the regulations set forth in the agreement between the two legal representative parts, the project failed to take off. The chief stated that “Concessions had to be made, but that’s progress” when asked about how he finally managed to receive the go-ahead to break ground.

On Wednesday FSIN chiefs approved final details for the project, including the share amount to be collected by the Lloydminster city council and a request for transforming the area into an urban reserve. All that remains is for the provincial government to hand out an approval seal. Heather Bear, the FSIN vice-chief, said that some questions remain unanswered. She is interested in learning if the Alberta local government or other parties are interested in joining.

The Saskatchewan Gaming Authority regulates all First Nation casinos in the province. As written in the agreement between the government and the FSIN, 25% of all casino profits are to be added to the province funds. Currently, First Nations casinos can be visited in White Bear First Nation, Swift Current, North Battleford, Whitecap Dakota Nation, Prince Albert, and Dakota Nation.

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