Manitoba Tribal Gaming
In 1984, the Opaskwayak Cree Nation (OCN) negotiated Canada's first gaming license between a tribe and a province, and in 1990 the OCN signed the first Native Gaming Commission Agreement, which gave them the exclusive authority to license religious and charity gaming events held on the reserve.
In September 1992, a VLT site holder agreement between the province and the OCN Tribe was signed, a first in authorizing the operation of VLTs at the First Nation.
Early in spring 1997, the provincial government appointed the First Nations Gaming Policy Review Committee. The Committee presented its report (the Bostrom Report) to the government in October. The report was publicly released in November and recommended approving casino and VLT facilities as an economic development opportunity for First Nations. In December 1999, the First Nations Casino Project Selection Committee was created. On 31 May 2000, the committee made its recommendation for the development of five First Nations casinos in Manitoba.
Aseneskak Casino, Manitoba's first tribal casino, opened on 15 February 2002 at Opaskwayak Cree Nation.
In April 2004, the Aseneskak Casino Limited Partnership, owners of one of the province's two First Nation-run casinos, demanded the province stop interfering with the tribe's gambling facilities, specifically in the marketing and management of the casinos and the purchasing of gaming equipment and supplies. Gaming Control Minister Tim Sale responded by pointing out that, under the Criminal Code, the province must oversee gambling at all casinos and thus regulations would continue to be administered by the (then) Manitoba Gaming Control Commission (MGCC).
All commercial gaming properties in Manitoba became smoke-free in 2004, but First Nation-run gaming facilities were able to circumvent the ban for a number of years following its adoption.
In August 2005, the Roseau River First Nation opened a new smoker-friendly gaming hall, taking advantage of the loophole in Manitoba's anti-smoking laws, which exempted native reserves. The state challenged the loophole, and in September 2006 a court ruled that First Nations bars, restaurants and casinos would no longer be exempt from Manitoba's smoking ban. All new and future First Nations video lottery terminal and liquor establishments had to be smoke-free. All existing First Nations bars and VLT sites were given one year to comply with the smoking ban. The law was challenged multiple times, until in winter 2007 it was ruled to apply to all properties, including tribal. The ban was fully enacted in December 2009.
In 2017, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs filed a CAD 1 billion lawsuit against the province for breaching its commitments and denying First Nations access to Winnipeg. The province responded in June, saying the 2005 agreement is not a "binding contract" but a "letter of understanding… and expression of policy, current at the time it was made."
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