The Little Pine First Nation wants to go it alone on two new casino proposals — one in Lloydminster, the other in Estevan.
The band is willing to ante up tens of millions of dollars, but it first needs to win the approval of the provincial government.
The Estevan proposal calls for a $30-million casino with the possibility of apartment units for the dozens of workers it expects to employ.
The chief of the Little Pine First Nation, Wayne Semaganis, thinks it’s a great proposal that will attract American tourists to the southeast Saskatchewan community.
He also says there is no reason his band can not set up the casino outside the control of the Indian gaming authority:
“You know that is a simple question that I ask. If SIGA can have casinos and the province can have casinos, well then Little Pine should also have the authority to be able to have casinos.”
Estevan mayor Roy Ludwig has already had preliminary discussions with Semaganis. The city will also get feedback from local residents on the proposal.
A by-election is being held for a council position on April 23. Ludwig says a non-binding question on the casino will also be including on the ballot. He says he has already received some feedback:
“We realize there are all these social issues around casinos and I know we already have some very concerned citizens.”
Semaganis says if residents vote ‘no’, he will respect that and move on:
“If they don’t want it, they don’t want it. That’s their right. It is their community.”
Little Pine is still moving ahead with plans for the Lloydminster casino. It is hoping to convince the province’s gaming minister to allow the First Nation to set up independent casinos. Semaganis will meet with minister responsible Donna Harpauer in a few weeks.