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May 1, 2009

The Red Lake Band of Ojibwe is building a new, $18 million casino complex at the southern edge of their reservation and 23 miles from Bemidji. The casino will have 300 slot machines, an upscale 40-room, all-suites hotel, a restaurant, a concert hall, and eventually a golf course. The casino will open in December and replace the older gambling hall in the town of Red Lake.

Ray Brenny, the tribe's chief operating officer for gaming, says the project has been good for the community by creating jobs during this economic downturn.

"A lot of people are out of work right now and we've got some real, real good deals on a lot of the materials," he said. "People are bidding on the job and the numbers are coming in great. The economy is down right now, and materials and everything else that goes along with constructing a project like this are coming in under budget."

Red Lake made record profits in 2008, up 9 percent from the previous year.
The tribe runs two other casinos in Warroad and Thief River Falls. They attract players from Fargo and Grand Forks, and about 35 percent come from Canada.

Tribal Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain says the new casino will put the tribe in a better competitive position when economy turns around. "Where there's this very scary element of 'be careful, be careful, be careful,'
we see opportunity," said Jourdain. "At this particular point we need to be more aggressive. We need to invest in our community. We need to do the opposite of what everybody else is doing, hanging on to their money. This recession is not going to last forever, and we're preparing for when it rebounds."

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