Leech Lake voters approve plan to build new casino in Cass Lake – Duluth News Tribune

A total of 1,244 individuals voted yes to build a new $45 million to 50 million casino, or 78 percent, while 341 voted against. There were 12 regional polling sites, as well as mail-in voting.

Some of the regional polling sites included:

• Cass Lake voted 114-63 in favor.

• Bemidji voted in favor, 11-5.

• Bena voted 18-11 in favor.

Tribal members also voted in metropolitan areas, with a 6-1 vote in Duluth and a 23-7 decision in Minneapolis.

Tuesday’s referendum was originally ordered in March by the Leech Lake Tribal Council, which has been discussing the prospect of a new casino for some time, officials said.

Officials opted for a new casino in response to mounting repair needs and maintenance costs at the current Palace Casino, located about 5 miles northwest of Cass Lake, according to Leech Lake Tribal Council Chair Faron Jackson Sr. The tribal council also factored in the origin of the Palace, which was remodeled into a casino in the early 1980s.

The Palace Casino is one of three operated by Leech Lake, with the other two being the White Oak Casino near Deer River and the Northern Lights Casino in Walker. Construction of the latter was approved by a tribal referendum in 2000.

New location, too

For the Palace replacement, the tribe isn’t only looking at a new building, but also a new location. Jackson said the council, based on a feasibility study analyzing the amount of traffic that flows daily on U.S. Highway 2, decided to construct the new casino in an area of Cass Lake across from Teal’s Market.

An estimated 3 million cars drive through that area of the highway annually, according to the study, which Jackson said made the location more suitable for the new facility.

The new casino, which

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