In Minnesota, more than one hundred members of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, various officials and employees were in attendance at a groundbreaking ceremony in Cass Lake at the future site of the new Palace Casino and Hotel.

The project that is expected to cost between $45-50 million, was approved by members of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in a referendum conducted on May 16, 2017. The multi-million project to relocate the facility from its current rural location to a more high-traffic area in Cass Lake was recently secured via the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, according to the Leech Lake News.

Tribal Chairman Faron Jackson Sr. thanked the 78 percent of the tribe that voted in support of the plan. He said, “I want to say thank you to our membership for allowing this day to happen, you know. It wouldn’t have happened without your consent,” as reported by the news agency.

The existing Palace Casino was reportedly never purposed as a gaming property and as such the facility faced many logistical and structural challenges. Over the years, the building’s rapid deterioration led to higher repair and maintenance costs resulting in decreased profits for the Band. The Leech Lake News reports that plans for the existing structure have yet to be finalized and that ideas for the building’s repurposing will be explored the Tribal Council.

Arthur “Archie” LaRose, Leech Lake Secretary-Treasurer, spoke to the ways in which gaming revenue has impacted the greater Leech Lake area. “Without gaming revenue we wouldn’t be able to do many of the positive things on this reservation,” LaRose said. “We’re the largest employer in Cass County here, and we don’t only help our people out, we help our neighbors out. This is a win for all of us,” said LaRose.

The new Palace Casino and Hotel will reportedly be located in a more visible site in Cass Lake along the Highway 2 Frontage Road and is scheduled to be completed in summer 2019. The facility will feature a 100-room hotel, restaurant, food court, brew pub, event center, arcade and gift shop. The venue will reportedly feature slots and blackjack for its gaming offering.

Officials are hoping that the greater visibility of the new site will increase traffic to the casino, according to the Leech Lake News.

The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe also operates the White Oak Casino near the city of Deer River and the Northern Lights Casino on the outskirts of Walker.

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