Wielding an oversized scissors, Leech Lake Tribal Chair Faron Jackson (center) cuts the ribbon for the grand opening of Cedar Lakes Casino and Hotel. Joining him are (front row to his left) Joe Jackson, Ass’t. GM, Northern Lights; Stephanie Tanner; Amy Stangel; Breanna Miettinen, controller, Leech Lake Gaming; Heidi Bilyeu; Leroy Fairbanks, Dist. III Rep; (front row to Faron’s right) Laurel Jackson, Faron’s wife; Robbie Howe, Dist. I Rep; Audrey Emineth, GM, Cedar Lakes Casino; and Donnie Headbird. In the back row (left to right) are Derek Jackson, GM, White Oak Casino; Damien Thielke, Dir. of Investigations; Pete Paquette, Dir. of Human Resources; Mike Auger, Gaming Director; and Robbie Budreau, Jr., Executive Director of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.

The grand opening of Cedar Lakes Casino and Hotel in Cass Lake was a time for celebration and thanksgiving, as the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe’s newest gaming facility opened its doors Aug. 8

Traditional pipe ceremonies, drums, songs and prayers marked the opening of the nearly $50 million facility.

Many speakers pointed out how smoothly the project had gone and how everyone, on and off the reservation, will benefit from its operation.

“We are very honored to have a state of the art gaming facility,” declared Tribal Chair Faron Jackson. “It involved teamwork — tribal roads, TERO, gaming division, everyone. “It’s a good thing we are doing here today.”

“The casino will be huge economic boon for the area,” added Leech Lake Gaming Division Director Mike Auger.

The project came in on time and within a budget of nearly $50 million. The new casino  was approved in May 2017 by an overwhelming vote of 1,244-331 band members. This was the first referendum of its kind since the band voted to approve construction of Northern Lights near Walker in 2000.

Leech Lake Band Director of Education Laurie Harper noted that the workforce is composed of around 75 percent Leech Lake Band members. Job fairs were held in all three districts on the reservation.

Cedar Lakes will employ about 400, compared to a staff of about 300 at the former Palace. The Palace, which closed July 22, will now be used for various human services programs.

Cedar Lakes Casino and Hotel is located at 6268 Upper Cass Lake Frontage Road NW., Cass Lake.

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