At least two Saskatchewan tribes have reportedly voiced deep concerns over the proposed $15.5m joint venture casino project in Lloydminster, Alberta, following claims that they have been “frozen out” out of profit sharing agreements.
Last month saw officials from the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) attend a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the proposed 31,000 square foot property, provisionally named Eagle Park West. This was under taken despite objections from the thunder child First Nation and the Big River First Nation claiming that they have been unfairly treated over the project.
Originally envisioned by Wayne Semaganis, Chief for the Little Pine First Nation, the finished casino is set to offer approximately 250 slots along side six to eight gaming tables, with future developments of a 250-room hotel and 1,500-seat convention centre on the table. Initial plans brought forward by Semaganis failed to get passed the FSIN, and in turn he agreed to partner with nine other tribes to establish the Border Tribal Council (BTC) in order to make the project a reality.
Each of the principle partners were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement over the particulars of the deal, notably how profit was to be shared, and Delbert Warpass, chief of the Thunderchild First Nation has since claimed the tribe has been “frozen out” and no longer treated as an equal partner.
It is reported that the tribe was not allowed to invest in the casino building project, which would have yielded them up to $80,000 a year, despite being part of the wider Border Tribal Council that facilitated its approval.
Warpass voiced further uncertainty as to whether his tribe could still expect to receive more than $200,000 per a year as part of the coming enterprise’s community development fund.