MANITOBA FIRST NATIONS CONSIDER ONLINE GAMBLING OPPORTUNITIES
Tribes want gambling reforms that include the right to operate online gambling sites.
Manitobas First Nations are seeking gambling reforms aimed at allowing land casinos in urban areas and giving the tribes the right to become involved in online gambling if desired, according to a weekend report in the Winnipeg Free Press.
"It’s going to be the full scope of gaming, games of chance, including electronic and online gaming," Manitoba Grand Chief Derek Nepinak told the Canadian newspaper in an interview following a local conference in which Manitoba chiefs authorised the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to draft a law for First Nations on how to control gaming in the province.
Under a 2005 agreement the provincial government and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs agreed to develop five First Nation-owned casinos across Manitoba, but the tribes claim there has been tension in the relationship.
"We were always pushed to the side. We were never able to fully utilize our VLT agreements or the expansion of our casino and gaming centres, " Nepinak said. These problems were exacerbated by the refusal of local municipalities to allow First Nation casinos in their urban areas, he said.
"With the previous NDP government there seemed to be a two-tiered economic system in gaming, one that gave access to premium gaming markets in the urban centres to private, commercial and corporate interests. It by-passed the joint agreements made between ourselves and the provincial government," Nepinak said.
"That’s unacceptable going forward. We want to assert a greater control," the grand chief said, explaining that the tribal leaders see gambling as a means to alleviate poverty and social problems among their people.
The provincial government has yet to respond to Nepinaks challenge.