Native casinos seeking traction in Canada

Canada has 15 native-owned casinos. They operate under several different models. Ontario has a centralized system in which tribal members share the revenue generated at the Orilla, Ontario Casino Rama facilities. Saskatchewan has several native-owned casinos.

Yale Belanger - Profeeser for native studies in Canada

Yale Belanger – Profeeser for native studies in Canada

All the casinos except for those in British Clumbia feature some form of revenue partnership, according to Yale Belanger ,an University of Lethbridge professor of native studies who has studies Canadian native gaming.  Debt service and management fees eat up a lot of tribal gaming profits.Provincial governments also have been taxing the native gaming industry very heavily. Case in point, Alberta taking a 30 per cent chunk of native casino revenue. Belanger believes the tax burden should be decreased.

British Columbia native casinos are proposed by the British Columbia First Nations Gaming Initiative at large urban centers in Okanagan and the Lower Mainland. Initiative leaders are prepping to set up operations despite opposition and possible legal action by the provincial government. While Saskatchewan and Manitoba feature long-time native casino and online casino operations B.C. has not developed a comprehensive plan for first nation gaming. The St. Eugene Resort near Cranbook os the only native-owned casino in the province to date. Rich Coleman, B.C. minister overseeing gambling said the marketplace already was saturated with gaming operations.

Elsewhere, the GEObet Tribal Gambling Network has proven a great success since its November 2012 launch. It is located in southern Alberta, Canada on the native grounds of the Tsuu T’ina Nation. They operate under the guidelines set by the Wapi-Maskawa iGamng Act. This applies to their online site northernbearcasino.com. The online site operates under regulatory rules set for online gambling in Malta, Curacao and Kahnawake, the Mohawk territory of Quebec.

The Wapi-Maskwa iGaming Act has been successfully used by native tribes with casinos to keep them operating despite Canadian federal government attempts to reign them in. NorthernBear Casino CEO Bernie Shepherd said it was important for native tribes to operate online and casino gaming as part of their heritage. This was a significant statement due to the recent efforts to expand operations into Saskatchewan. GEObet CEO Gerry Gionet said their forefathers were traders for centuries with entrepreneurship in their DNA. This meant that historical data backed their efforts. Lacrosse was a betting sport setting the table for tribal gaming, he said.