Havre Daily News
ROCKY BOY'S INDIAN RESERVATION - It is spring - even if the winter storm advisories say differently. With the season's thaw brings the ground breaking of the Chippewa Cree tribe's Northern Winz casino.
Tribal chairman John “Chance” Houle said at Thursday's tribal council meeting: “We are in construction.”
“Start your engines,” Houle said with a smile.
Chippewa Cree Community Development Corp. director Bob Swan said workers began surveying the site in the Laredo area Thursday. A fence will be put up around the construction area on Sunday, which will be followed by the moving of dirt on Monday.
“We're finally getting started. I didn't think this day would ever come,” Swan said.
Although the work has begun, the tribe will host a ground-breaking ceremony some time within the next few weeks, he said.
Billboards announcing the grand opening of the $9 million casino, set for Nov. 17, were purchased Thursday.
The 20,000-square-feet casino will include about 300 electronic bingo machines and 50 poker and keno machines. Plans include a restaurant, sports bar and poker room.
The sports bar will serve alcohol, which will be the first time alcohol sales will be allowed on the reservation since the Baldy Butte Inn cafe and bar burned down in the early 1990s. The serving of alcohol on the reservation remains a controversial issue, with some tribal council members welcoming the revenue and others from the tribe's cultural commission saying the amendment of the ordinance allowing alcohol sales goes against traditional living. Rocky Boy otherwise is a dry reservation.
Construction will begin soon on a convenience store, which will open about the same time as the casino, Swan said.
The start date of second phase of the project, a 65-room hotel, will be decided next spring, he said.
The total cost of the casino, store and hotel will be about $19 million.
Florida-based casino developing firm NORAM provided the startup funds, which will be repaid in a profit-share agreement.