The ground has been broken for the Lloydminster Casino.
The Border Tribal Council and the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) held a sod turning ceremony to mark the starting of the development of SIGA’s seventh casino in Saskatchewan.
Chief Wayne Semaganis from the Little Pine First Nation says this has been a long time coming. The planning began a year after he became Chief eight years ago.
“It’s been a struggle and myself, I would’ve like to have seen this start six years ago but reality is reality and I’m just glad it could start today.”
He adds that it will help address the needs of the First Nation Community.
“The real needs of my community; housing, social issues, health issues, education issues. I’ve never been a Chief that has like begging for anything, certainly there’s a responsibility on governments to help address those needs but certainly there’s nothing stopping us as leaders in our community to make sure we do our share to bring those opportunities to the members.”
The casino will follow the same profit distribution model as the other six casinos in Saskatchewan, which sees:
- 50% shared with the First Nations Trust which is given to Saskatchewan First Nation communities
- 25% shared with regional Community Development Corporations which are placed in the casino locations and benefit local initiatives
- 25% shared with the provincial government’s General Revenue Fund
Chief Reginald Bellerose, the Board Chair for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority says the profits from the casino will be helpful to the community.
“It’s going to be very helpful, put it that way. Obviously, when you’re coming into a new market, you want to be cautious with your forecast.”
Lloydminster MLA Colleen Young says this is exciting for the Lloydminster and surrounding area.
“SIGA and the First Nations FSIN have always been a very strong, responsible organization and have shown that in the other casinos they have around the province. I think the people of Lloydminster should get to know that partnership that’s there and what the opportunities are going to be for this community in the future and I think it’s a good thing for Lloydminster.”
Mayor Gerald Aalbers says this will create economic growth in the city, not only with construction but with also tourism.
“It gives [people] one more reason to stop, an attraction, a business visit from that perspective, entertainment value. Many people will see it in different facets but any time you add to the dimensions of the city, especially when it makes it a destination, it’s certainly a wonderful thing.”
Chief Bob Merasty, the Second Vice Chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, says not only are First Nations trying to have a strong hold on gaming in Saskatchewan but they want to be involved in other aspects as well.
“We as First Nations also want to see us playing a huge role in other sectors of industry; in oil and gas, in hospitality, in resource exploration.”
He goes on to say, “all of those sectors of industry we need to play a mainstream role in because the direct benefits are healthier lifestyles for people, revenue generation and at the end of the day healthy families.”
As for how long until the casino is up and running, Chief Semaganis jokes “well with all the shovels out there we should be starting next week.” He adds on a serious note that they hope for it to be done in May, 2018.