Spirit Sands Casino Project Overview
The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) is making history with the Spirit Sands Casino at Swan Lake First Nation, in Manitoba. The gaming operation is the first of its kind - owned by all 64 First Nations in Manitoba.
Red Lake Gaming Enterprises, business arm of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, will develop and manage the gaming property, supported by Ingenus Management and Consulting, a Minnesota-based casino development and operations consultant. The agreement between the Manitoba First Nations and the Red Lake Band is an example of the partnership that has historically existed without regard to national borders.
The casino, a $40 million development, will create 200-300 full-time casino jobs with benefits. The vast majority of positions will be filled by people already living within a 50-mile radius of the casino. An additional 200-300 construction jobs will be created. The casino/hotel is expected to attract upwards of 800,000 visitors annually.
Spirit Sands Casino will be located approximately 35 minutes from the city of Brandon, Manitoba’s second largest city. Brandon is two hours west of Winnipeg on the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1) and has a local area population of approximately 100,000 people. The casino has an overall market of more than 160,000 people within a 60-minute drive, and the closest casino competition is more than two hours away.
The gaming enterprise will be a significant asset to the economic development efforts in the Swan Lake First Nation, and as an entertainment destination, will benefit the entire region. Swan Lake Reserve will provide infrastructure around the site, which may include benefits such as fiber optic cables for data and Internet access, cellular communications and working with provincial authorities to improve Highway 5.
• 40-50,000 square feet
• 500+ gaming machines
• Table games
• Black Jack
• 2 food venues
• Approximately 85 hotel rooms
• 200-300 full time casino jobs with benefits
• 4,000 sq/ft of meeting/event space
• Options for future expansions
Questions & Answers
Q) Why is the Red Lake Nation involved in the Spirit Sands Casino Project?
A) RLGE and the Red Lake Nation are actively looking for ways to diversify our economy and create more opportunities for income for the Red Lake Nation. By creating new businesses on and off the reservation, we have an opportunity to have more dollars flowing our way.
Diversifying our gaming business is a low risk way to protect us from any potential changes or new competition that may negatively impact our current gaming operations. As you know, our three Seven Clans Casinos are constantly under threat by outside interests trying to compete with us. By expanding our influence in the gaming industry, we generate new income for the Band, and minimize the impacts others may have on our three current casino operations.
Q) Will the Red Lake Nation risk any of its own money to finance the casino development?
A) No. RLGE is helping to secure financing for the new casino. However, we are not using the Red Lake Nation’s money, or co-signing any loans, to finance the casino.
Q) Has the Red Lake Nation spent any money on this project?
A) Yes. Every economic development opportunity requires a certain amount of time and resources, including financial resources, to determine its viability and potential reward to the Red Lake Nation. This project is no different. We have completed the responsible due diligence, and retained the necessary contractors who will support us on this project. We have currently invested roughly $500,000 to compensate those contractors (including attorneys and consultants). The vast majority of those expenses will be reimbursed to RLGE once financing is secured and closed.
Q) Will the Red Lake Nation own the Spirit Sands Casino?
A) No. RLGE will manage the casino on behalf of the owners – the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC), and all 64 First Nations in Manitoba.
Q) Will the Red Lake Nation make money from this casino?
A) Yes. The agreement with the AMC states that when the casino is built, RLGE and its contractors will receive 20 percent of casino profits each year for the term of 10-years. Based on financial projections, RLGE will receive approximately $1 million in the first year alone. If all the targets are hit, that number can potentially grow to more than $2 million per year in Year 10.
Over the 10-year agreement, projections indicate that the Red Lake Nation will receive between $15 million and $18 million to manage the Spirit Sands Casino Resort, based on 10-year estimates.
Q) What is Ingenus Management and Consulting’s role in the project?
A) RLGE has retained Ingenus Management and Consulting to provide much of the manpower to develop and manage the new casino.
Ingenus has experience developing, opening and operating casinos around the country and internationally. Their gaming executives have experience in all areas of casino operations. Their principals – Ken Mimmack and Dave Wirshing – have opened and/or operated some of the biggest and most profitable casino operations in the country. Their experience includes overseeing operations at Grand Casino Mille Lacs and Grand Casino Hinckley; the Stratosphere Casino Hotel in Las Vegas; Fitzgerald’s Casino and Hotel in Tunica, MS; and the Empress Casino in Joliet, IL.
As a company, Ingenus has developed casinos including the Million Dollar Elm Casino in Tulsa, OK; Million Dollar Elm Casino Sand Springs, OK; and Remington Park Racing and Casino in Oklahoma City, OK;
All together, Ingenus’ executives have opened more than two-dozen casino operations.
Q) Does Ingenus Management and Consulting own the Spirit Sands Casino?
Q) Who pays Ingenus Management and Consulting?
A) RLGE will compensate Ingenus. Ingenus’ compensation is based on how well the casino performs. However, their compensation will not reduce the projected $15 million to $18 million RLGE will make on this project.
Q) RLGE has opened and manages our own Seven Clans Casinos. Why do we need Ingenus?
A) RLGE has talented executives, supervisors and front line employees who make our Seven Clans Casinos successful. We want to maintain that level of success by keeping those executives, supervisors and front line employees focused on their current responsibilities. Ingenus’ involvement means our employees continue to focus on keeping Seven Clans Casinos strong and profitable.
Q) Will there be opportunities for Red Lake members to work at the new Spirit Sands Casino?
A) Possibly. RLGE judges every economic development in part on the number of jobs it will create for Red Lake members. However, we strongly encourage our own members to keep our own casinos strong and profitable. In addition, the AMC prefers that its First Nations members receive every opportunity to hold key positions in all areas of the casino, hotel and restaurant operations whenever possible.
Q) Has financing been secured for the Spirit Sands Casino?
A) As of August 30, 2011 financing has not been secured, though all parties involved are working hard to identify the appropriate lender. AMC and RLGE strongly prefer to identify and work with an Indian lender, such as Tribal entities that operate successful casinos and have the financial resources to lend money to other tribes.
Q) Will the project get financed?
A) Yes. We strongly believe the project will get financed, and that the terms will allow AMC and RLGE to financially benefit from the partnership. Much of the risk that initially existed has been eliminated. Over the past 12 months, virtually all the risks normally present in a new development have been eliminated. All upfront monies for approval and licensing have been invested, and necessary approvals obtained. Everything from environmental studies, to leasing of land, to infrastructure access, to licensing has been obtained. The project is shovel-ready. All that progress substantially reduces risk to the lender, and makes the project easier to finance.
Q) When will Spirit Sands Casino open?
A) The casino is scheduled to open 12 months after financing is secured and the project construction is begun.