12/11/2012 : GEOBET ONLINE GAMBLING LEGAL, SAYS C.E.O.
Tribal authority, allied with approval from international regulators, has been obtained
Responding this week to a claim by Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) Minister Donna Harpauer that the Geobet-powered Northern Bear Casino.com was "probably illegal", GEObet chief executive Gerry Gionet challenged the opinion.
Gionet said that in addition to operating under the auspices of the Wapi-Maskwa iGaming Act in Canada, the GEObet Tribal Gaming Network had achieved additional licensing from regulated gaming jurisdictions that included Curacao, Malta and Kahnawake.
"GEObet has followed every guideline, and has taken every precaution, to ensure that the online tribal casino is a legal entity," Gionet said in an interview with the Indian Country Today Media Network.
GEObet is an aboriginal-owned online gaming enterprise based in the Tsuu T’ina Nation in southern Alberta, Canada, and on November 6 this year launched the first online tribal casino in North America – the Northern Bear Casino in Saskatchewan – to allow users to gamble with real money (see previous InfoPowa report).
Earlier this month Minister Harpauer told local media that the provincial government would study the formal launch announcement from the new tribal online casino and then consider its options.
While the minister did not indicate that any action would be taken following the launch, the Canadian federal government has apparently asked the national Royal Canadian Mounted Police to investigate, according to Indian Country Today.
Minister Harpauer's policy appears to be at odds with that of her immediate predecessor in the post, Ken Cheveldayoff, who was widely reported as supporting the idea of regulated online gambling in the province and reaping tax revenues from the business.
Northern Bear Casino.com chief executive Bernard Shepherd is also on record as having said: “After almost 20 years of successful First Nations owned and operated [land] casinos in Saskatchewan, I decided to become an owner/operator because I believe First Nations need to ‘Occupy the Field’ of online gambling.
“I’ll be operating under the same Inherent, Treaty, Constitutional and Sovereign rights as when I opened the first Indian casino in Canada on February 26, 1993. Our forefathers traded globally 100-plus years ago and entrepreneurship has been in our DNA for 10,000-plus years; this is what November 6, 2012 is going to stand for.”
Addressing the question of Canadian government involvement in online gambling, which is provincially controlled and legal in British Columbia, Quebec and (soon) in Ontario, Gionet said that online gambling was a business, not a criminal act.
In response to the Canadian government’s derogatory comments concerning the legality of Northern Bear, Gionet said that he intended to ask the government to engage with Minister Harpauer and persuade her to assist and participate in "our economic future and development.”