Casino plan making progress

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June 2, 2015 8:15 AM

Little Pine First Nation Chief Wayne Semaganis is one step closer to bringing a casino to Lloydminster.

On May 28, it was announced that the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nation (FSIN) voted in favour of the proposed casino project, which is helmed by Little Pine and the Onion Lake Cree Nation, along with 10 other partner bands.

“It’s good that they finally voted in favour of it. It’s a relief to finally have the full approval to move ahead,” Semaganis said. “It’s an economic generator for both my community and the city of Lloydminster. It’s a positive for everybody involved as far as I can see.”

From here, Semaganis will be approaching the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) to agree on the casino plan before seeking the necessary permits and approval from the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority and the City of Lloydminster. So far the only part of the development that has been approved by the city is a gas station and convenience store at the northeast corner of 40 Avenue and Highway 16.

“Any type of development we’re encouraging in the city of Lloydminster because we are open for business and we like to create opportunities for jobs and employment and a strong economy,” Mayor Rob Saunders said.

Semaganis has been working toward building a casino in Lloydminster for the past five years. Last February, he approached FSIN with a plan to operate a casino independently from SIGA. He says there are legal clauses that would have accommodated him, but it created uncertainty and was ultimately voted down.

Semaganis says both Little Pine and Lloydminster stand to benefit from his plan. He says the revenue would help to address social issues in Little Pine, like education, health and geriatric care, and the city would see hundreds of new jobs and increased economic activity.

“Long term it will be something that is an attraction for current residents, future residents and visitors,” said Ward Read, CEO of the Lloydminster Economic Development Corporation.

See “Casino,” Page 12

“So it’ll be something that has a number of different impacts to the economy,”

The planned development would also include a 250-room hotel and 1,500-seat convention centre, which Read says could put the city in the position to host larger events.

“We have some really good hotels and a number of those hotels have space, but not generally enough space to hold quite a significant-sized conference or convention,” Read said. “So this is really going to plug a hole in our asset mix, that we’re going to be able to host different sorts of events that way. And I expect as well that they’ll be able to host entertainment shows that may have bypassed our community as well.”

Semaganis says he hopes to get the project underway as soon as possible, but, pending approval from the requisite entities, he expects that it should realistically take another year for his plan to become a reality.

“I’d like to do a sod turning pretty soon just to signify that yes it is finally being approved and it’s good to go and show the business community in Lloydminster that we want to be a part of the City of Lloydminster,” he said.

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