The first Westman casino is set to swing its doors open.
Sand Hills Casino, which is being built on Swan Lake First Nation land near Highway 5 south of Carberry, will officially open June 23.
The 31,000-square-foot casino will house 350 slot machines, table games a restaurant and lounge in a ranch-style structure.
“After a number of false starts trying to get a casino in Westman off the ground, it is very satisfying to know we are almost at the finish line,” said Fisher River Cree Nation Chief David Crate, who is also the chair of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Gaming Committee.
The casino is expected to employ approximately 160 full-time and 50 part-time employees.
It will be the province’s third First Nations-owned casino and profits will be shared equally by all 63 Manitoba First Nations.
“We are hopeful Sand Hills Casino will become an economic success and pay dividends for the entire First Nations community in Manitoba.”
The casino, which was formerly known as the Spirit Sands Casino and Resort, had a tumultuous past.
Several failed bids to build the casino were finally rectified after Hemisphere Gaming stepped in and took over the project last year.
Hemisphere will manage the casino for a period of 10 years following construction for a substantial fee. The Minnesota-based company has been accused of eating into the majority of profits at other native-owned casinos.
Swan Lake First Nation Chief Francine Meeches said the casino has already provided benefits to the area.
“The casino will be a significant employer of aboriginal people,” Meeches said. “We also expect it will attract additional development to the Swan Lake First Nation.”
Barbara Czech, a spokesperson for the casino, said crews are busy working on the interior of the building on everything from flooring to painting.
“Things are coming along really well,” Czech said. “The table dealers have been hired and a number of them are already in training because it does take a while to adequately train the dealers.”
The opening day will feature a ribbon cutting with a number of prominent backers of the casino.
Live entertainment, which will also be offered on the weekends, will help kick start the venture.
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