Alberta Is Planning for $100M casino complex at Lloydminster

Even though the Saskatchenwan’s Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) approved the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) casino development a few days earlier, Alberta Frog Lake First Nation made an announcement of their plans of developing a $100 million complex in/around Lloydminster. It has been reported that the $100 million entertainment and casino complex will be built west of Lloydminster. There are also reports of the First Nations having casinos on both sides of the Alberta-Saskatchewan border in the city. However, the project manager of the Lloydminster Regional Entertainment Complex project, Bruce Simms, denied the building of two casinos. He stated that there is only room for one casino in Lloydminster. Even the representative for SIGA agreed that there is only room for one facility.

The First Nations’ plans consist of building an entertainment and casino complex west of the city. They are planning to have a convention center, a casino, a WHL-sized hockey arena, and a hotel that would feature upscale accommodations, such as an indoor water park and a spa. And according to Simms, they already have bought 140 acreage of land for the development.

Statements from a First Nations Rep Involved in the SIGA Plans

On the other hand, Onion Lake’s associate director of operations, Phillip Chief, is one of the First Nations representative involved in the SIGA plan, doesn’t think Frog Lake’s plans will not come into fruition. He mentioned a current moratorium that is in place concerning new gambling licenses within Alberta, and the regulations concerning where a casino of First Nation must be in relation to reserve land. Chief stated that he believes the parties involved have somewhat misunderstood the rules. He also doubted that Lloydminster wanted to allow a second casino’s construction in short time period.

Chief has great confidence in the Saskatchewan project. He stated how they are considering to have a new arena after building the casino. And even though Frog Lake made an announcement of their plans, the announcement doesn’t affect their Saskatchewan casino plans, according to Chief. He further stated that SIGA has adhered to all the steps, so he strongly believes that Alberta’s plan will not happen.

More Statements from Simms

There are even more statements from Simms, in showing his confidence of this project from the Alberta Frog Lake’s position. He expressed the wide offering range that goes beyond just gambling in Frog Lake’s proposal. He stated that the future of the gaming facilities consists of the hockey rink in particular that would allow 6500 people, the lower area will be used for concerts and conventions, and they are planning to buy a franchise of WHL once the WHL’s rink is completed.

More reasons why Simms is so confident about the proposal is because the WHL commissioner didn’t think there will be any problems in moving forward, and there will be multiple owners of the WHL team along with Frog Lake First Nation. He is hoping that more of First Nations’ players would be involved with the WHL because with a strong front, a lot more people would be drawn to the WHL. And furthermore, the WHL team won’t negatively affect the Junior B hockey team called the Frog Lake T-Birds. As a matter of fact, he believes this will encourage the team members to pursue playing in the WHL in the future.

And the benefits just keep going with this plan because Simms said that the WHL can attract more potential people to take on a career path in this higher level of hockey. With this project, there will be employment opportunities in construction and in the operational phase. And Simms is even hoping that government funding would be allotted for training programs as well. First Nation have already approached Frog Lake to become investment partners, according to Simms. And so far, it’s reported that a significant amount of interest has been shown in providing project funding according to him.

Other Plans and the Status So Far

Simms stated that in 2014 the council and chief of Frog Lake First Nation began discussing the complex. The Lloydminster Regional Entertainment Complex will offer entertainment, convention capabilities, premium lodging, and fine dining in one location, and it will be a partnership between communities. The casino will have VLTs and table games. Additionally, the complex will have a four-star, full-service hotel that includes an attached convention center that sits 1,200 people. Simms says it’s yet to be determined whether or not to use a similar plan as the River Cree Resort plan in which a Grey Eagle Casino and Resort or a Marriott Hotel runs its own hotel.

The official announcement for the Lloydminster Regional Entertainment Complex was made in July. A month later, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations which entail the Chiefs of Saskatchewan First Nations approved plans for a Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority casino for Lloydminster.

So far, development plans still need development and permits still need to be obtained; however, Simms hopes ground breaking will be in 2017 for the complex. As previously noted, Frog Lake First Nation bought 140 acreage of land which is along Highway 16. This is adjacent to the western border of Lloydminster. First Nation is currently working with the national government for 30 acres of the site from the additions to reserve process. This 30 acres will be for the entire entertainment complex. The rest of the land will be for future development phases that First Nation will embark on, including restaurants, retail, and residential. The 140 acres is still in the County of Vermillion River, but Simms stated the City of Lloydminster in which supply the power, sewer, and water services for the complex, will annex that land soon.

Written by: Andrew Johnson

Andrew Johnson has been reporting for for more than 8 years. He studied journalism at UGC and has published two books on how journalism influences the world.

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