Dignitaries help break ground on new Lloydminster casino. Photo by Dean Bear.

It was a great day for excitement in the city of Lloydminster.

Ground was broken for a new Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority casino in the Border City.

The Border Tribal Council and Little Pine First Nation revealed plans for the province’s seventh First Nations owned casino.

The land for the development is owned by Little Pine First Nation on the eastern edge of the city of Lloydminster. Little Pine will be responsible for site development. The property will be leased to SIGA by the Border Tribal Council and SIGA will operate in the same way as the six other SIGA casinos in Saskatchewan.

Little Pine Chief Wayne Semaganis says it has been a long time coming in getting the project to this point.

“I was elected as chief eight years ago, and we started this one year after I got in,” he said. “My community has a lot of needs, and this one way we can attempt to address those needs.”

Semaganis says there is always a lack of funding when it comes to housing, social issues and health issues. He hopes the opportunities created for employment though the casino will help address those areas.

SIGA chairperson Reginald Bellerose says the casino will not only benefit the city of Lloydminster, but all First Nations in Saskatchewan. He says there are 144,000 First Nations people in Saskatchewan who will share in revenues from all SIGA run casinos.

Bellerose says one of their goals is to become the primary operator of all casinos in the province, including the government run casinos in Regina and Moose Jaw.

“We’re the experts in this field, and the government shouldn’t be dealing cards,” says Bellerose. “They should be the regulator.”

Participating in the sod turning event were representatives from Little Pine First Nation, Onion Lake Cree Nation, the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, SIGA, the city of Lloydminster and province of Saskatchewan.

Construction is set to being immediately, with site preparation with a completion date of May 2018.

When the new facility opens, it will employ over 140 people.