New Dakota Dunes Casino off to a strong start

The USD 61 million Dakota Dunes Casino, the latest First Nation owned and operated casino in Saskatchewan, officially opened its doors on Aug. 10. The casino, located on Whitecap Dakota First Nation, is a joint venture between Whitecap Dakota, the Saskatoon Tribal Council and the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA).

Dakota Dunes general manager Gary Daniels described the new facility as „a typical Las Vegas casino in the middle of Saskatchewan with a First Nation theme to it.“

The much-anticipated Dakota Dunes Casino opened a month earlier than planned, and, at 80,000 square feet, is SIGA‘s largest casino to date.

„As the operator of the Dakota Dunes Casino, SIGA is proud of the fact that the project has been completed within the USD 61 million dollar budget,“ said SIGA president and CEO Zane Hansen in a press release.

The casino is a multi-functional building that houses 12 table games, food and drink services and about 600 slot machines, as well as an entertainment venue for concerts and plays. The new facility also boasts a banquet area that seats up to 650 people.

Since its opening the casino has experienced success, and has become an important part of the Whitecap Dakota community, Daniels said. The Dakota Dunes Casino has 400 full and part time employees from the surrounding area, with the majority of them coming from First Nation communities.

„The casino is important as it provides jobs to the people of Whitecap and also the other Saskatchewan Tribal Council bands, seven in total. Also the gas bar (owned by Whitecap) has been very busy since we have opened our doors,“ said Daniels.

Original plans for the casino didn’t call for it to be built on Whitecap Dakota, Daniels explained.

„SIGA was granted a license to operate a casino in the Saskatoon region with city approval. Originally Dakota Dunes Casino was to be built in downtown Saskatoon, but after a city plebiscite, the city voted against the casino by a small margin. Then next alternative was to build the casino on Whitecap First Nation which is located 28 kilometres south of the city of Saskatoon,“ he said.

This is the fifth First Nation-owned casino to be run by SIGA. The others are the Northern Lights Casino in Prince Albert, the Painted Hand Casino in Yorkton, the Gold Eagle Casino in North Battleford and the Bear Claw Casino on White Bear First Nation.

SIGA plans to continue building more casinos around the province, a decision that is primarily fueled by the continued success of the existing SIGA casino, as well as the need to advance First Nations economies. Work is currently underway on a bigger and better facility to house the Painted Hand Casino, and on a new casino in Swift Current.