Great Canadian Entertainment has announced the sale of its “landmark Vancouver Island property,” Casino Nanaimo, to the Snuneymuxw First Nation’s economic development corporation. This significant transaction was unanimously approved by the company’s board of directors and is subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Under the terms of the agreement, Great Canadian Entertainment will provide transition services to Petroglyph Development Group Ltd. for up to two years post-closing, according to Victoria News. Petroglyph is a wholly owned corporation of the Snuneymuxw First Nation.

“We are very pleased to have executed this agreement. As the operator of Casino Nanaimo since its inception in 1986, we believe that under Petroglyph’s steady management, this transaction will provide Casino Nanaimo, its guests, and team members with an exciting new chapter,” said Matt Anfinson, CEO of Great Canadian Entertainment, in a press release.

Snuneymuxw Chief Mike Wyse expressed enthusiasm about the partnership with Great Canadian and the First Nation’s entry into the British Columbia casino industry. “We are committed to bringing Snuneymuxw’s local expertise to an established tradition of outstanding guest service and meaningful community contributions,” said Wyse. He emphasized that the acquisition honors the work of past Snuneymuxw chiefs and councils and promises significant economic growth for the nation and the local community.

The deal also includes the return of the land associated with the property to the First Nation. “In addition to our pending acquisition of the business, we are honored to announce the return of the associated land once closing is completed, a part of the Snuneymuxw xwsol’lexwel village,” said Erralyn Joseph, president of Petroglyph Development Group.

Petroglyph’s CEO, Ian Simpson, highlighted the economic potential this acquisition brings. “Acquiring this significant asset will unlock unprecedented economic potential for Snuneymuxw and PDG, paving the way for transformative growth in Snuneymuxw’s economy and the profits that PDG returns to our Nation.”

Significant Economic Benefits

Chief Mike Wyse told NanaimoNewsNOW that acquiring Casino Nanaimo will bring significant economic benefits to their Nation and the local community. He noted their intention to learn and excel in casino operations through their partnership with Great Canadian Entertainment. “We’re definitely not experts and we’re going to work with the experts to maintain the success that it’s having right now and to provide that gaming opportunity for the people of the region,” Wyse said.

Wyse also mentioned the potential to maximize the casino and the neighboring Courtyard by Marriott hotel, in which SFN holds a majority ownership stake. “We’ve been discussing that a lot,” Wyse said. “We could market it as a potential destination, the casino, and the hotel; you’ve got Hullo the foot ferry; there’s definite opportunity there.”

The SFN is part of a tripartite agreement with an investment firm and the Nanaimo Port Authority to operate the Hullo fast ferry between the downtowns of Nanaimo and Vancouver. Employment opportunities for SFN members at the casino are also anticipated.

Wyse highlighted the deep significance of the casino’s location to the SFN, stating, “That was a main village site of the Snuneymuxw people on xwsol’lexwel, a lot of our people’s history comes through that region of Snuneymuxw and that’s a really exciting piece of this story.”

Casino Nanaimo, located at Port Place Shopping Centre, features over 400 slot machines, six live table games, electronic table games, and a restaurant, according to Great Canadian Entertainment. The financial details of the purchase have not been disclosed.