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Chiefs plan to build casino in Thompson

Derek Nepinak

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Derek Nepinak

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has announced plans to develop its fourth casino in Thompson.

AMC Grand Chief Derek Nepinak made the announcement in Thompson on Wednesday.

No date or details were released other than expectations the development will move quickly.

The size of the new Thompson casino is being characterized as similar to that of the Aseneskak Casino in The Pas and the Shark Club Gaming Centre in downtown Winnipeg.

In a statement, Nepinak said there has been good local support for the project.

"(Thompson) Mayor Tim Johnston has been positive and supportive in our discussions," Nepinak said. "The citizens of Thompson have been hospitable each time I've visited, and I know Nisichawaysihk has a good relationship here as well."

Nisichawaysihk Cree Nation is the closest First Nation to Thompson.

"I was very pleased to sit down with Grand Chief Nepinak over the last couple of months and start to discuss the opportunities with respect to gaming in the north," Johnston said.

The AMC is working on a business plan, and Nepinak said they are confident Thompson will experience an economic boost and about 140 new jobs when the casino is developed.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton, the longtime Thompson MLA, said the city has always been a potential location for one of the five First Nations casinos in an agreement the AMC negotiated with the province several years ago.

Two casinos are now up and running -- Aseneskak in The Pas and South Beach Casino and Resort on the Brokenhead Ojibway First Nation at Scanterbury. The third casino, Sand Hills Casino east of Brandon, is on schedule to open in late spring.

Although no location has been identified, the nearby Nisichawaysihk Cree Nation owns the Mystery Lake Hotel and an adjoining building, and it has long been considered a possible site.

Oswald Sawh, president of the Thompson Chamber of Commerce, said the idea of a casino is not new in Thompson.

"Anything that has an economic development component for Thompson should be looked at," he said. "But at the same time, there are probably concerns out there about whether this will result in any increase in social issues. I think there will be a process where these things will be discussed."

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

 

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