Tribal Casino Expansion Possibilities for Manitoba

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Alan Campbell

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Alan Campbell

Last Updated on 14th March 2024, 07:22 AM

Tribal Casino Expansion Possibilities for Manitoba

The recently-elected premier of Manitoba has declared his administration is open to having ‘a conversation’ about the possibility of licensing more tribal casinos as part of a pathway towards economic reconciliation with the province’s indigenous peoples.

Wabanakwut ‘Wab’ Kinew from the left-leaning New Democratic political party defeated Progressive Conservative incumbent Heather Stefanson in early-October to become the inaugural First Nations person to head a Canadian provincial government. The 41-year-old’s campaign was primarily focused on affordable housing, healthcare, agriculture and crime issues with indigenous matters largely sidelined.

Fluctuating Focus

However, the former musician, broadcaster and university administrator used a Wednesday press conference to express his belief Manitoba could be ready to welcome more tribal casinos in order to stimulate additional ‘economic reconciliation and local economic development’. Any such expansion would lift a pause on the number of First Nations-run gambling facilities initiated by the western province’s former Progressive Conservative government in 2018.

Without going into detail, Kinew revealed his administration is prepared to listen to new tribal casino proposals although he would not be drawn on whether this could include schemes for the province’s largest city, Winnipeg. Nevertheless, the father-of-three did explain any such expansion would have to be balanced against potential social impacts via consultations with the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation.

“It's not really what we envision; it would be led by a proponent,” Kinew said. “Whether it's Treaty One Development Corporation or a Westman First Nation, if we're talking about that part of the province, they would have to come forward and say ‘here's a plan’,' and then we'd take it from there.”

Population Progression

Referencing the 2018 pause, Kinew asserted Manitoba ‘has grown quite a bit since then’ with his administration confident the province of almost 1.5 million inhabitants could welcome more tribal casinos ‘while still ensuring we’re being socially responsible with liquor and lotteries’.

Opposition Opinion

For his part, local Progressive Conservative legislator Ibrahim ‘Obby’ Khan later stated an expansion in the number of tribal casinos in order to grow provincial revenues ‘are all things you need to think about’. But the Fort Whyte representative additionally warned his party needs to hear more details from the government regarding any such possibilities before it can officially weigh in on the issue.

Spirit Sales

Alongside the potential expansion in the number of tribal casinos that operate as land-based entities as opposed to casino sites, Kinew went on to advocate for a dialogue on whether to allow grocery stores to sell alcoholic drinks, which is an activity currently banned in Manitoba in favor of Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation-run outlets. Legislation proposed by the province’s former Progressive Conservative government would have established a five-year pilot project on just such a possibility although this was later blocked by New Democratic opposition.

“We need to look at that economic development side and I think the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation has shown that it is an effective generator of revenues for government, Kinew said. “But crucially it has to be done in a socially responsible way.”

Meet The Author

Alan Campbell
Alan Campbell

Alan Campbell has been reporting on the global gambling industry ever since graduating from university in the late-1990s with degrees in journalism, English and history. Now headquartered in the northern English city of Sheffield, he has written on a plethora of topics, companies, regulatory developments and technological innovations for a large number of traditional and digital publications from around the planet.

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