Casino News

Bear Hills Casino Kicks Off Operations This Spring

After breaking ground in October 2022, Bear Hills Casino & Travel Resort is nearing its official opening. The gambling establishment located close to the QEII between Wetaskiwin and Ponoka in Alberta, will kick off operations in the spring of 2024. The new location will start with 80 full and part-time jobs, and it will be among the biggest employers in the area.

Once finished, the complex will become the sixth First Nations-owned gaming amenity in the province of Alberta and the first one on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway. It is located 60 km south of the Edmonton International Airport. Meanwhile, the Louis Bull Tribe owns 100% of the project, Still, a while back the tribe noted that it is willing to work with other Nations to expand it.

Launch is Just Months Away

Erika Bull-Giroux, Director, Socio-Economic Development, Louis Bull Tribe and Board Director, Bear Hills Casino, commented that Louis Bull Tribe is quickly becoming one of Central Alberta’s newest and largest private employers. The tribe has already begun hiring for key positions at the complex with additional recruitment set to come in February and March.

As the first part of the opening, the new resort will include the casino facility, a lounge and a live entertainment stage, as well as a Petro-Canada gas station, quick-serve food options, and public restrooms for highway travellers. The gaming segment will have various gambling options, such as over 200 slot machines, 10 table games, a lounge, and live entertainment.

Meanwhile, Gordon Rauscher, President and CEO of the resort also shared a few words in the announcement. He remarked that the opening of the gaming complex in the upcoming spring is a tremendous milestone for the Louis Bull Tribe. In his words, the property will deliver a significant amount of economic activity to the Maskwacis and Wetaskiwin regions.

More on Alberta’s Gambling Industry

In the summer of 2023, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission announced that it would not budge and would not change its stance on Camrose Resort Casino’s relocation. Capital City Casinos issued an official request to AGLC to ask for the relocation of the casino from Camrose to the Ellerslie Industrial area in Edmonton. However, the regulator does not agree.

Laura Cunningham-Shpeley, executive director of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues said the uphold of the decision was an example of organizations making a stand. It should be mentioned that Edmonton non-profits opposed the move, as they feared that the relocation would take away some of their charitable gaming revenue as the property would feed rural charities instead of nearby ones.

Meanwhile, 2023 also saw the sale of several Century Casinos’ destinations. In September, the company concluded a deal with VICI Properties for the sale of Century Casino & Hotel Edmonton, Century Casino St. Albert and Century Mile Racetrack and Casino in Edmonton and Century Downs Racetrack and Casino in Calgary. The agreement was worth more than CA$221.7 million.

Source: “Bear Hills Casino opening set for this Spring” The Grove Examiner, February 14, 2024