By Charles R. Vig
When the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community opened a tiny bingo hall in a rural area 35 miles southwest of Minneapolis in 1982, the tribe never imagined that its enterprise would grow to become the largest entertainment resort in the Upper Midwest.
As the SMSC celebrates 35 years of Indian gaming in 2017, our Community is reflecting on what this milestone truly means and how far we have come in this relatively short time.
The SMSC has been a leader in Indian gaming from the very beginning. By opening Little Six Bingo in 1982, the SMSC was on the leading edge of tribes across the nation entering into bingo and gaming. The SMSC introduced casino gaming in 1987 when it opened Little Six Casino, and Mystic Lake Casino opened nearby in 1992.
In its first 25 years, Mystic Lake has become the premier gaming facility in the Midwest, and it prides itself on continually creating new, fun and exciting entertainment experiences for its guests. Mystic Lake has three first-class hotel towers, 150,000 square feet of casino and bingo space, seven unique restaurants, three bars, along with meeting and banquet spaces. Not only can visitors play blackjack, pull tabs, bingo, and the most sought-after video slot machines in the industry; they can also enjoy a wide variety of dining experiences, play a round of golf, refresh with spa services, take in a show, spend the night in luxurious hotel accommodations, and enjoy some of the most distinctive outdoor summer events in the region. This full-service resort experience shows how far we have come, and it’s a testament to the commitment of our community to be among the best and offer our guests the ultimate entertainment experience.
We seek regular feedback from our guests, because spending time listening to and learning from our guests helps us evolve in ways that are most important to them. Our progress is very mindful as we seek to add amenities and offerings to our enterprise that will fill a need for all of our visitors. One example of this is adding to our event space, which is currently under construction. The brand-new Mystic Lake Center will open in late 2017, featuring a stunning 70,000-square-foot meeting facility and 180-room hotel tower.
It is humbling to reflect on how many lives we touch through the SMSC Gaming Enterprise. Thirty-five years ago, our community could not have imagined that it would become the largest employer in Scott County, one of the top philanthropists in Minnesota, and one of the largest benefactors to tribes across the nation. We pride ourselves on being a good neighbor and are glad to provide thousands of people with great opportunities to work and play every day.
As we celebrate the 35th anniversary of Little Six and the 25th anniversary of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, our Community is reflecting – with great pride – on our place in the history of Indian gaming and tribal economic development. We have created a strong enterprise that supports our sovereign government, strengthens the broader community, provides great jobs for our employees and team members, provides memorable experiences for guests, and brings economic vitality to our region. ♦