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Another hit to The Pas as casino makes plans to relocate south

The Aseneskak Casino is hoping to relocate south within the next two years. .
The Aseneskak Casino is hoping to relocate south within the next two years. .

The Aseneskak Casino, based on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation near The Pas, said it’s making plans to relocate south within the next two years.

If it moves, it will be the second major employer in the northern Manitoba community to close shop.

READ: Tolko Industries in The Pas shutting down, hundreds to be laid off

On Monday Tolko Industries told 332 employees they would be shutting the doors of their paper mill operation in December.

The CEO of Aseneskak told Global News she hopes many of its 147 employees will move with the casino.

“There is going to job losses regardless because the market is not here and we are having a difficult time,” casino CEO Suzanne Barbeau-Bracegirdle said.

Barbeau-Bracegirdle said the casino contract with the province allows for more than 600 gaming machines, but they’re currently only running 172 due to market conditions.

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“Our market here in the area is saturated already and we want to move to a new location with a larger market,” she said.

While there is a relocation option in the casino contract, the minister responsible said in an email statement it still has to be approved by the province.

“The previous NDP government signed one-off, politically motivated agreements,” Heather Stefanson, the minister responsible for the Liquor and Gaming authority said.  “Our government is currently conducting a broader review of the implications of relocated or expanded gaming in Manitoba.”

In that same email Stefanson said that a 2016 Manitoba Gaming Market Study indicates the gaming market is oversupplied.

“Any change in capacity must therefore be supported by a solid market analysis and business plan,” Stefanson said.