Gambling options being considered in Canada

Manitoba Indian tribes consider their options on the province's possible entry into online gambling

Last week's news from Canada that the province of Manitoba is actively considering following other Canadian provinces into the online gambling business has been followed by reports that First Nation bands are also examining their options.

The agenda for next Thursday's Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has a slot for discussion of the possible opportunities and potential drawbacks of getting into the online gaming business, reports the Winnipeg Sun newspaper.

AMC Grand Chief Ron Evans told the Sun that the provincial government, has not yet approached the AMC with any offers to become involved in its Internet-based gaming plans. However, the news that the government was considering the possibility had prompted the chiefs to start discussing it.

“I think we’d be open to learning more about it to see what our position is once we have that information,” Evans said. “Obviously it’s [Internet gambling] happening and it’s not [currently] being regulated. I think it would be good for us to know what impact it’s having on the existing casinos and gaming operations.”

The chief added that the potential impacts on addiction and problem gambling would also require study.

Any recommendations decided by the AMC chiefs gaming committee would have to be approved by the larger assembly at its annual meeting in July before a decision can be made on whether to become involved in online gambling or not, Chief Evans emphasised.

The Winnipeg Sun notes that in 1997 the Bostrom Report recommended the province approve five aboriginal casinos in Manitoba. To date, only two - the Aseneskak Casino near The Pas and the South Beach Casino at Brokenhead Ojibway Nation - have opened their doors, while a third known as Spirit Sands Casino is expected to commence operations on land adjacent to Spruce Woods Provincial Park in the future.

Last week Manitoba Lotteries Minister Steve Ashton confirmed that the province is considering either establishing its own gambling website or partnering with other provinces to establish a shared venture to generate revenues for the province (see previous InfoPowa report). The site would be regulated by the province and would therefore include controls like age checks and transfer limits.

The minister revealed that he expects to make the decision before the end of the year.

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