WHITECOURT, AB - The Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation opened its
new Eagle River Casino & Travel Plaza yesterday. The $32-million casino is a
joint venture with Paragon Gaming.
The casino is located about 8km northwest of Whitecourt at the junction of Highway 43 and Highway 32N. Its gaming floor features 250 slot machines, 12 table games, 6 poker tables, and a smoking section.
The facility includes a restaurant with 160 seats, a lounge, and a Husky travel plaza. A Marriott Fairfield Inn will begin construction in the next year.
About 25 per cent of the 220 employees are from the Nation, said Chief Cam Alexis. "Gaming is a new business here. Qualified people were hired from across Canada. Our people are being trained to eventually take management positions." He added that casino revenues will help fund housing and infrastructure. "We have a deficiency of 400 homes. This will help us to catch up."
Revenues from the Eagle River Casino are forecasted to provide the Alexis Nation with $9 million annually in employment and charitable funding. Alberta Lottery Fund will receive $9 million annually with another $3 million going to the Native Trust Fund for bands without casinos. The employment and business opportunities forecasted for the Whitecourt area is another $4 million annually.
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