Gamers in Manitoba have a new casino to look forward to. The casino will be called the Spirit Sands Casino located near Carberry, about 50 km east of Brandon. Money made from the casino will be used to support First Nations communities throughout the province, with plans in place to distribute money evenly among Manitoba’s 63 First Nations. Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Derek Nepinak says the support for First Nations communities was a crucial step in the negotiations with Hemisphere Gaming, who will be the developers and managers of the casino.
“We’ve done the best we can with the numbers that we have to work with. And I think we’ve come to a good agreement.”
The AMC has previously coordinated a casino deal with Hemisphere in Scanterbury, north of Winnipeg. The South Beach Casino and Resort has been in operation on the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation since 2005, and Hemisphere has performed an impressive job generating money from the location. However, the AMC was careful to iron out a different agreement for the Spirit Sands casino because of criticism not enough money was used to support First Nations communities under the previous deal.
The new Spirit Sands casino is expected to host 450 slot machines, along with approximately 12 table games. The AMC says up to 150 people will be employed at the new location when it is due to open by the end of next year. Nepinak says that the casino’s success over time may validate an expansion.
“If and when there is market support, we will look at expanding Spirit Sands. Building to existing demand has proven a successful business model at South Beach Casino and Resort, which has expanded four times since it opened seven years ago.”
While the AMC believes this deal is beneficial for all communities, there are some First Nations chiefs who are skeptical that money will be evenly distributed. Some argue they still have not received their share of profits from the South Beach location, and feel there should be more transparency on how money from the new Spirit Sands casino will be divided.