Casino to enrich First Nations

By Geoff Lee

October 19, 2017 10:03 AM

Zane Hansen, CEO of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority provided a project update on the Lloydminster casino now pegged to cost $26.5 million. Hansen spoke during the 2017 Economic Partnership at the Wildrose Pavilion on Oct. 12. GEOFF LEE LSS PHOTO

The new target opening date of the Lloydminster casino is next fall along with a revised estimated total cost of $26.5 million with construction underway.
A project update and economic impact report was presented by Zane Hansen CEO of the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) the casino operator, during the Economic Partnership Summit at the Wildrose Pavilion in Lloydminster on Oct.12.
“I am very glad to get construction underway,” said Hansen alluding to a series of delays.
“Any casino development goes through a lot of approvals from all levels of government—it takes a little while to get everything in place that way.”
With the pilings and the foundation perimeter wall in place by Yellowhead Construction, Hansen expects the steel framing will be arriving in November.
He says the new completion timeline is August or September 2018.
The finished structure will be about 33,750 sq. ft. with 250 slots and eight gaming tables to start with.
About 160 people turned up to hear Hansen’s update in keeping with the Summit purpose to develop indigenous partnerships with industry opportunities including casino hiring.
SIGA is positioned as a top 15 employer in Saskatchewan and a top 50 Best Workplace in Canada with a total of 1740 employees at its six existing casinos.
About 65 per cent of employees are from First Nations with 45 per cent of managers being female.
Hiring for SIGA’s Lloydminster casino will start with managerial positions for the project startup team five to six months prior to the opening.
Hansen estimated the casino will employ 140 full time equivalent positions with a payroll of about $7 million.
“Probably three to four months prior to opening is when we’ll have the larger career fair type exercise and then we start bringing people on anywhere from three weeks to two months prior,” said Hansen.
“It’s really an exciting time for us.”
Hansen said the Lloydminster casino will have one of the best functioning floor layouts of SIGA’s casinos and will include an integrated food and beverage outlet and an entertainment room with about 6,000 sq. ft. when completed.
“It will be a busy window of construction now, so hopefully when we hit the fall period next year, we’ll be opening” he said.
Hansen also noted that work on an adjacent gas bar being developed by Little Pine First Nation should resume shortly after construction had stopped earlier this year.
“I think they are just going through a couple of stages there getting things in place,” he said.
“From my understanding, it’s going to be moving along now and they should get it completed soon—everything will get moving quickly now.”
Hansen was also stoked by the economic activity that Little Pine will generate as a partner of SIGA and the owner of the casino land.
He said Little Pine is in the process of converting the site located east of 40 Ave. and south of Highway 16 into an urban First Nations reserve with taxing authority to follow.
“From there, they will get a tax revenue base and there will be rent on the area that we occupy,” said Hansen.
As a tax authority, Little Pine will set up municipal service agreements with the local municipalities.
“All of our casinos pay municipal tax as if they were off reserve, but it’s paid through a municipal service agreement,” he explained.
Little Pine will also set up tax agreements with federal and provincial governments for other taxation.
SIGA will be a tenant of the Border Tribal Council, the project developer and casino landlord.
With the casino comes a regional Community Development Corporation that feeds 25 per cent of casino profits to support local initiatives.
Hansen also noted some of the community investment SIGA makes annually from its casinos such as $1.25 million in sponsorships that support hundreds of organizations.
SIGA also has a corporate volunteer program with 28 per cent participation and a scholarship program valued at $50,000 a year.

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