- Category: news
- Created: Friday, 25 October 2013 14:38
- Published: Friday, 25 October 2013 14:38
- Written by Administrator 3
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Independent gaming site proposed
BY JASON WARICK, THE STARPHOENIX
A Saskatchewan First Nations chief is planning to build a casino and hotel complex in Lloydminster, and wants to do it without the involvement of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA).
"Lloydminster is an open market, a lucrative market," Little Pine First Nation Chief Wayne Semaganis said in an interview Wednesday.
Semaganis is scheduled to make his pitch today to delegates at the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) assembly at the Whitecap Dakota First Nation south of Saskatoon. Under the current rules, he needs approval from the assembled delegates to push forward with his plan.
All seven of Saskatchewan's current First Nations casinos sit on land owned by individual First Nations, but they fall under the jurisdiction of SIGA. They share revenue with every First Nation in the province. The Lloydminster proposal, which would include 800 slot machines, sports betting, a 1,500-seat convention centre and a 200-room hotel, would be the first independent operation.
"I didn't set this up to be in competition with SIGA. This is just business," Semaganis said.
Lloydminster is the last large untapped casino market in the province, he said. It sits on a major national highway and is home to many high-earning workers in the oilpatch and other sectors. With Little Pine less than 100 kilometres away, he hopes it will also be a way to provide jobs for his members.
Two years ago, Little Pine officials purchased a 178-acre plot just off the Yellowhead highway on the Saskatchewan side of the border city. Little Pine is located approximately 175 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.
Since then, Semaganis said he has "quietly" sought approval and support from various groups. Lloydminster's mayor and council recently voted unanimously to alter the land's zoning, and worked out a potential servicing agreement. Semaganis also gained the support of two influential FSIN commissions, and can now ask for support of the larger assembly. Passing the Lloydminster casino resolution today is a necessary condition for Semaganis to ask the provincial government to make gaming agreement amendments.
Semaganis said he hopes other First Nations will support Little Pine's aspirations. He said Little Pine will pledge to contribute to a trust fund for all First Nations, and will establish a community development corporation for the region they serve. In the coming months, he'll also seek approval from Lloydminster council to designate the land as the city's first urban reserve.
"I'm confident. We've done a lot of groundwork," he said.
Other First Nations are welcome to invest in their operation and can reap profits in that way, he added. Owning the Lloydminster casino will offer far greater financial rewards than the current $750,000 per year Little Pine receives from SIGA, Semaganis said.
Ten years ago, Lloydminster voters rejected a proposed casino in a plebiscite. Semaganis said the city has changed, and he believes people will be more open to the concept. Also, the profits will remain largely local. The proposal 10 years ago was from an American company.
"Most of that money is not going to be leaving the province," he said.