The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) and Sand Hills Casino Resort brought Manitoba government and the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Commission (MLLC) to court, suing them for breach of commitment to prioritize First Nations for the development of a casino facility in Winnipeg. AMC and Sand Hills Casino Resort claim $870 million compensation for the project cancellation.
The local media CBC News reported that the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs and Sand Hills Casino Resort take legal action against the government of Manitoba after First Nations casino project in Winnipeg was nixed by the government. According to First Nations, the government of Manitoba did not keep its word to stimulate the development of the gaming market and rejected the possibility for construction of a casino facility in one of the most profitable regions known to be Winnipeg.
First Nations announced that it suffered millions of dollars loss due to the project’s cancellation. As if that is not enough, the government reportedly gave a go-ahead to the opening of First Nations’ competitors Shark Club Gaming Centre, which appeared on the gaming scene after Manitoba government selected First Nations as the preferred developer of a gambling facility in Manitoba.
On Tuesday, AMC and Sand Hills Casino Resort filed a 41-page statement of claim in the Court of Queen’s Bench. The document alleges that Manitoba government and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Commission breached the deal with First Nations, which was granted the exclusive right to open and run five casinos in Manitoba prior to any other company. The claim elaborates that First Nations was even denied access to Winnipeg market, while the government allowed the development of 2 other gambling facilities, including True North Sports and Entertainment’s Shark Club. Apart from that, the government is said to have issued licenses for the operation of 500 video lottery terminals in Winnipeg, which are also not First Nations’ property.
It was reported that AMC and Sand Hills Casino Resort are suing Manitoba government and MLLC for $640,000,000 in general damages and $248,000,000 in punitive and aggravated damages. Manitoba government and MLLC are expected to file a statement of defence in the coming days.
Story of a Broken Promise
In 1997, former Progressive Conservative government selected First Nations as the preferred developer of 5 casinos in Manitoba. Bostrom Report was the document, which granted First Nations the exclusive right to open casino facility in Winnipeg ahead of any other. According to the document, First Nations is accredited to establish “up to 5 destination gaming facilities for on-reserve development strategically located within Manitoba based on market”.The move was part of a larger scheme for the expansion of the state’s casino industry and boosting the economy. At present, there are only 3 casinos, opened by First Nations in Manitoba, but not even a single one is located in Manitoba’s Winnipeg.
It is interesting to note that the first casinos which opened in the juicy province of Winnipeg, including Club Regent and McPhillips Street, are owned by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries. In that sense, AMC and Sand Hills Casino Resort accuse Manitoba government of keeping the profitable market in Winnipeg for itself, while First Nations is isolated somewhere in the periphery.