Shovels broke earth for the official sod turning of a casino in Lloydminster, Saskatchewan, this morning. The ceremony, hosted by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), and its development partners, the Border Tribal Council and Little Pine First Nation, featured a site dedication, updated development plans, and a construction timeline. This will be SIGA's seventh casino.
While the City of Lloydminster uniquely straddles Canada’s provincial border between Alberta and Saskatchewan, the casino will be located on the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster, on land owned by Little Pine First Nation, at Highway 16 and 40th Avenue. Operated by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), studies show that 60 percent of the casino’s business will come from the Alberta side of the border and 40 percent from the Saskatchewan side.
“On behalf of SIGA, we’re excited to officially be in the ground and to continue working with the Border Tribal Council to make this development a reality. This casino will not only benefit the community of Lloydminster but all First Nations of Saskatchewan, and is only possible through the positive partnerships between the FSIN, Border Tribal Council, Little Pine First Nation and the City of Lloydminster,” Chief Reginald Bellerose, SIGA board chair, said at the event.
The approximately $20-$25 million, 30,000-square-foot facility is yet to be named. Phase 1 of the project will include a gas bar and convenience store, which has been under construction since last fall with Little Pine Business Developments Inc. as a development partner. A 120-room hotel will be built with Border Tribal Council.
While Little Pine First Nation serves as the land owner and tax authority, the Border Tribal Council will act as landlord. The casino property will be leased to SIGA by the Border Tribal Council, which will be responsible, alongside SIGA, for the facility development. The Border Tribal Council is also in charge of incorporating the Community Development Corporation.
SIGA will operate the casino and follow the same profit distribution model as its other six casinos as outlined in the Gaming Framework Agreement, with profits being administered by the Province of Saskatchewan.
- 50 percent is shared with the First Nations Trust which is distributed to Saskatchewan First Nation communities;
- 25 percent is shared with regional Community Development Corporations (CDCs) which are situated in the casino locations and benefit local initiatives;
- 25 percent is shared with the provincial government's General Revenue Fund.
“The new casino will have significant benefits for Lloydminster – it will create local employment, provide funding for city services, non-profit and charitable organizations, and it will support local businesses through service agreements and by attracting tourism dollars to the community,” said Zane Hansen, SIGA president and CEO.
SIGA has operated casinos in Saskatchewan for more than 20 years. The nonprofit, formed in 1996 under the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations Inc., now known as the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, runs six casino sites located across the province:
- Bear Claw Casino & Hotel, White Bear First Nation
- Dakota Dunes Casino, Whitecap Dakota First Nation
- Gold Eagle Casino, North Battleford, Saskatchewan
- Living Sky Casino, Swift Current, Saskatchewan
- Northern Lights Casino, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
- Painted Hand Casino, Yorkton, Saskatchewan
Once shovels break ground, SIGA has said it intends to begin the hiring process. The casino will employ approximately 140 positions, both part-time and full-time, ranging in level from custodians to food and beverage workers, slot attendants, cashiers and management positions. SIGA anticipates a $6.5 million payroll. Applicants must be at least 19 years of age to be hired. SIGA currently employs close to 1,900 people of which 65 percent are First Nation, and 35 percent are non-First Nation.
The Lloydminster casino will further benefit the surrounding communities through local supplier support; property taxes to city; and community investment through donations and sponsorships.
Participating in today's sod turning ceremony were First Nation Elders, representatives from the FSIN, Border Tribal Council, Onion Lake Cree Nation, Little Pine First Nation, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, and from various levels of government.