Industry Reports

Manitoba’s Casino Expansion Scrapping May Be a Blessing in Disguise for First Nations

This week saw the introduction of Manitoba’s Progressive Conservative Government agenda for the following year and as it turned out, the province is no longer interested in pursuing a gambling expansion. This announcement triggered an immediate response from the Canadian federally recognized tribes, also known as the First Nation communities which hope this is going to improve their overall position in the existing gaming field of Manitoba.

Tuesday was an important date for the province of Manitoba as it became clear that local lawmakers are putting previous plans of casino development aside at least for the time being. Even though this is being done in an attempt to spare the government some cash, as the current financial situation is tight, tribal gaming might end up benefiting from the announcement as well.

The indirect impact this might have on their existing casino operations could be positive, as it could result in the resolution of previous problematic situations.

Previous Issues Could be Resolved Soon

Long Plain First Nation Chief Dennis Meeches expressed his position shortly after the announcement, reopening an old conversation regarding potential First Nation casino development in Winnipeg. Concerns of field cannibalization had prevented this plan from becoming reality and province lawmakers stand their ground on the subject. At the moment there are two gaming venues in operation to the liking of Club Regent Casino and McPhillips Station Casino.

In the meantime, there is also the arrangement reached this April between seven First Nations and the federal government. As a result of it, the First Nations received the permission to bring to life their urban reserve on the former Kapyong Barracks site. It could feature a gambling venue of sorts at some point, but for the time being no additional details have been considered.

What is crucial at the moment is the amount of time which the government is going to need in order to finalize its evaluation and come up with future gambling strategy for development. Any actions directly against potential future First Nations casino plans could be considered an attempt to keep the gaming field tribe-free. There are existing rules guiding the operation within the borders of the province mandating that the tribes receive equal opportunity for development in the gambling sector.

First Nations Gaming Might be on the Verge of Major Changes

As of today, First Nations tribes oversee the operation of as many as 17 gaming venues sprinkled throughout provinces such as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba. Casino Rama Resort is special in this sense, as it is one of the three tribal casino venues in operation in the province.

The two other are Golden Eagle Charitable Casino & Entertainment Center and Great Blue Heron Charity Casino. Manitoba lawmakers took into account the current status of the job market in Manitoba and the projected impact of further investment in the gaming field, which is why a whole new direction was announced.

Premier Brian Pallister stated that problem gambling is a serious issue which needs more attention. The devastating impact it has on the local community should not be overlooked. The foreseeable future is expected to shed more light on the province’s plan for action when it comes to the local gambling field and future strategy.