Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Manitoba is all in on third First Nations owned casino

CTV Winnipeg

The Sand Hills Casino is set to open its doors next week, south of Carberry, on land owned by Swan Lake First Nation.

"It's a great option for the region for entertainment, just to come and experience something new in Manitoba," said Bartley Harris, Director of Gaming Development for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

The 31,000 square-foot casino features 350 slot machines and seven table games.

Despite the fact, the casino is located in a relatively remote part of the province developers say the anticipated economic benefits will make people in the area the big winners.

Early estimates indicate over the next 10 years the region can expect to see $150-million dollars in economic development

“When we say 150 million dollars of economic development, we're really talking about construction jobs, on-going jobs at the casino and then as well the increased spending and business opportunities,” said Sand Hills Casino spokesperson Barbara Czech.

Though, people of Swan Lake First Nation may see signs of economic prosperity first, the casino sits on land owned by the community.

“I'm happy to work here and be part of Swan Lake and the land it’s on and all that,” said William McKinney, from Swan Lake, who was hired as a maintenance technician.

McKinnney and other First Nations employees make up half the 160 person workforce and workers travel in everyday from places like Brandon, Carberry, Winnipeg and Dauphin.

But it's people who live on Manitoba's 63 First Nations who will get to split the profits once the casino finishes paying out the financers.

Harris said Sand Hills Casino is collectively owned and the revenues will flow directly to First Nations in Manitoba.

Officials plan on expanding the casino and building a hotel.

For now the Swan Lake First Nation is building cabins for people that want to spend the night in the area.

Meanwhile, the casino is still hiring and said staff are needed to fill jobs in security and retail.

- with files from Sheila North Wilson

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