New First Nation Study Calls For Gaming Regulation Changes

By Ben Hamill - October 01 2020
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New First Nation Study Calls For Gaming Regulation Changes

An insightful new study by Canadian research and public policy organisation Frasier Institute has identified specific key reforms that, if implemented by the country’s lawmakers, will help First Nations create value for their communities. The study suggests that reducing gaming regulation will help First Nations generate the necessary additional revenue needed to improve living standards.

Titled “Cartels and Casinos: First Nations’ Gaming in Canada”, the study sketches a scenario in which three key reforms are at play, including that of First Nations communities being authorised to open casinos and gaming halls near large cities and vacation resorts – as opposed to being restricted to remote areas typically nowhere near the hustle and bustle of metropolitan life.

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Provincial Cartels To Blame

The scenario proposed by the study is based on actual findings that have historically shown that when First Nation communities have in the past managed to open casinos near large cities and popular vacation resorts, their Community Well-Being scores instantly improved. This particular score takes into account things such as income, education, employment, and housing, and is determined by and based on data collected by Statistics Canada.

But the Fraser Institute study also shows the opposite side of the coin – shining a light on how provincial gaming policies have been responsible for essentially keeping those scores down and well below average by preventing First Nation casinos from being developed and operated near busy cities and high-population urban areas.

This has repeatedly led to First Nations-operated casinos and gaming venues remaining comparatively small and as such, unable to contribute significantly to the economic development of communities.

Legislative Change Is Needed

The study reaches the conclusion of cartels having been created by provinces – cartels mindful only of their own profit and progression. Provinces ultimately end up either owning licensed casinos located near big city areas, or at least laying claim to a large chunk of the profit generated by those establishments every year.

The proposed solution is an interesting one too, as First Nations have in the past brought the argument of removing their communities from provincial jurisdiction before the country’s courts – but without any success. Such a change, moves the study, will practically pave the way for First Nations to improve their communities economically. This will however only be possible if the country’s Criminal Code were to be amended so as to affect the change in oversight from provincial to national level – and thereby eradicating the cartel approach.

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