First Nations seek gaming ownership with Bill S-268

The bill has been introduced to ensure 'economic reconciliation'

A bill designed to provide First Nations with the exclusive authority to licence, conduct and manage gaming operations on reserves has been tabled in the Senate.

Last Tuesday, Senator Scott Tannas introduced Bill S-268, an act that would amend the Indian Act and section 207 of the Criminal Code.

Speaking at a news conference on Parliament Hill, Sen. Tannas said: “We are in an era of recognizing the rights of indigenous governments, the sovereignty that they gave. We are also in an era of economic and spiritual reconciliation.

“This bill simply asserts what we all know to be the truth – that indigenous governments have sovereignty on their own lands, and in particular when it comes to business pursuits.”

He added: “Currently, indigenous gaming facilities see their provinces rake a significant amount of the funds into their general revenues.

“We suspect the provinces will have something to say about this – this will have a cost.”

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron believes the bill is a “positive step forward” after nearly three decades of campaigning.

Cameron said: “This particular bill will enhance and improve First Nation quality of lives, on our communities coast to coast to coast.”

Meanwhile, Reginald Bellerose, former Chief of Muskowekwan First Nation and current chair of the board for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, has voiced his approval of the bill.

“This is an important day,” he remarked. “We believe First Nations are the best casino operators in the country. This bill will allow more jobs, and more revenue going back to First Nations.”

In other recent legislative news, and following the bill read by Sen. Tannas, Senator Marty Deacon unveiled Bill S-269, aimed at uniting government and provinces in the fight to curb the volume and velocity of sports betting advertisements in Canada.

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