Column: Don't meddle with First Nations on gaming

"It would be better if the federal government expended its resources on creating the conditions for economic development on First Nations rather than just focus on stamping out some of the only opportunities available to those communities.

Recently, Ottawa announced it was considering new measures to stamp out Internet gaming sites based out of a Quebec First Nation community.

The government has stated the 400 or so poker and sports betting sites operating from Kahnawake are illegal. Neither the provincial or federal government have acted against them, but that may change.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said "following recent concerns surrounding Internet gambling in Canada," the minister is looking into enforcement of the Criminal Code. This could mean banks or credit card companies could be prevented from dealing with these gambling operators.

The Mohawk owners, predictably, held their ground, arguing these laws do not apply to them as "sovereign nations."

Without getting into the sovereignty issue, it would make more sense to understand what is steering these people to potentially illegal activities.

The federal government needs to recognize the conditions on reserves that allow these gaming sites to exist and flourish."

Get the Story:
Joseph Quesnel: Why gaming is big on reserves (The Winnipeg Sun 3/8)