MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Native American gambling operations in Minnesota have grown by leaps and bounds since they first came onto the scene more than 30 years ago.

But besides having a positive economic impact on the communities in which they reside, they’ve also brought the glitz, bright lights and fancy amenities that one could only find in Las Vegas or the coasts.

The year was 1982, and the country was just emerging from a crippling nationwide recession.

The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux community of Prior Lake was looking for new ways to battle unemployment and bolster their local economy.

“Minnesota was one of the first states to sign compacts with the tribes to offer gaming,” said Mystic Lake CEO Angela Heikes.

With paperwork in hand, the community took a big gamble and built the state’s first legal high-stakes gambling facility, Little Six Bingo.

“And that’s when gaming started in this community,” Heikes said.

And she said they have never looked back.

“The community has always been forward thinking. What are we doing here? What entertainment experiences are we offering, and a keen eye to what our guests want,” Heikes said.

mystic lake WCCO Viewers’ Choice For Best Casino In Minnesota

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With 150,000 square feet of gambling space, 67,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space, and a championship golf course, Mystic Lake is the largest employer in Scott County.

“I lead 3,200 team members, and we are here to make sure guests are having a good time,” Heikes said.

If you are in the mood for a show, the 2,100-seat Mystic Showroom brings in some of the best talent from around the world.

“We’ve got some great names coming this summer!” Heikes said.

And don’t forget your appetite.

“We have seven restaurants, and all at a different taste,” she said. “You can come for our buffet or you can have a really nice outing at our steak house.”

And with a gaming space this large, you’re sure to find a friendly dealer or a hot slot machine — or maybe something bigger.

“We’re just on the cusp of our summer fun promotions. We’re giving away RVs, boats, etc.,” Heikes said. “We’re always watching and learning to see how we can make improvements to our amenities here.”

Which just happens to be the same type of forward thinking that led the Mdewakanton community from their very humble beginnings to where they are now. But it’s not about bright lights and fanfare.

“It’s not about bricks and mortar. It’s really about the experience,” she said. “And that boils down to our team members making a difference.”

And that’s why it’s a pretty sure bet that Mystic Lake is the best casino in Minnesota

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