In northern Minnesota, this week reportedly saw members of the Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe vote overwhelmingly in favor of relocating the tribe’s Palace Casino Hotel to a new and much larger site nearer to the city of Cass Lake.

According to a report from The Bemidji Pioneer newspaper, the Tuesday referendum resulted in 78% of the tribe voting in support of a plan to move the Palace Casino Hotel from its current rural location a little over three miles to a site alongside the four-lane Paul Bunyan Expressway, which is passed by around three million cars a year.

The Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe also operates the White Oak Casino near the city of Deer River while the tribe’s previous referendum in 2000 reportedly saw it approve the plan to build the Northern Lights Casino on the outskirts of Walker.

Faron Jackson, Chairman for the Leech Lake Tribal Council, told the newspaper that the tribe felt that it was time to relocate its Palace Casino Hotel, which has been operating at its current site since the early-1980s, due to mounting repair needs and maintenance costs. He explained that the Leech Lake Band Of Ojibwe had been discussing the possibility of moving the venture to another location for many years while the new home for the enterprise is expected to cost at least $45 million and provide employment for up to 500 people.

“We’ve been talking about a new casino here for a couple of years because the current building is in need of so many repairs,” Jackson told the Duluth News Tribune newspaper. “The Palace [Casino Hotel] itself wasn’t an original gaming building when it was established. It was made into one in the early-1980s and was remodeled but it wasn’t built as a casino.”

The Bemidji Pioneer reported that the Leech Lake Tribal Council had conducted a feasibility study into the new Cass Lake location in advance of the referendum while the coming project is moreover due to feature a water park. It detailed that the tribe, which will now be able to begin negotiations with loan companies, wants to start construction in the spring of next year in order to open the facility early in 2019.

“We want to be competitive with gaming here,” Jackson told the Duluth News Tribune. “We want to add more square footage and a water park. We want a cleaner building that’s more updated; one that can attract more customers to come visit our gaming establishment or shows.”