Industry Reports

Smoking Ban Threatens Manitoba Tribal Casinos

Manitoba casino patrons frequenting tribal casinos might be facing a ban on smoking within the premises of the gaming locations. Premier Brian Pallister made it clear that only First Nations casinos prohibiting smoking inside the building will be allowed to recommence operation once the province of Manitoba allows brick-and-mortar casino gaming to return. This statement sparked a debate.

Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels responded to the plans by saying that the government of Manitoba should not interfere with the way tribal nations manage their gambling businesses. The policy currently in place has been established over the years and changing it is out of the question, as he pointed out. The debate is expected to continue.

First Nations Chiefs Outraged

Premier Pallister recently made a point that he wants to see smoking banned across brick-and-mortar casino venues, gambling halls, as well as VLT lounges. Keeping the air clean within the premises of the venues is considered essential for the health of the people frequenting them. They spend hours in the enclosed space while gambling and Manitoba officials want to see a change when it comes to the tribal locations across the province.

Mr. Pallister made it clear that the government does not intend on opening facilities allowing smoking once land-based gambling hotspots recommence operation. Efforts in this direction commenced back in March when Mr. Pallister pointed out that he would like to see the practice of smoking in tribal casinos come to an end. Within the province, there are about 30 gaming venues overseen by First Nations, and all of them allow smoking.

He said that this policy could be changed with the help of continuous conversation and collaboration between the government and the tribal casino operators. Further specifying, he pointed out that no legislation would be needed at this point in the conversation and the change could happen in a natural way.

Conversation Continues

For quite a while, the government has been in talks with Manitoban First Nations chiefs regarding the subject. Mr. Pallister stated that some of the tribal nations have shown readiness to make some changes and prohibit smoking on the premises of their casino venues, gambling halls, and VLT venues. Now he is ready to stomp out smoking once the provincial gaming field returns to its normal pace of work.

Chief Daniels begged to differ, saying that the trial policies should be respected. For years now, First Nations overseeing gambling halls have pointed out that Manitoba’s indoor smoking ban has nothing to do with the tribal venues and that should remain the case going forward. Furthermore, he says that the issue is an old one and Mr. Pallister is in for a long battle that he will not be able to win.

First Nations fall under federal jurisdiction, as the tribal nations claim and this allows them to continue welcoming casino patrons who prefer smoking while gambling. Ever since mid-March, all brick-and-mortar venues in Manitoba have been closed for business but their reopening is expected to commence soon.