First Nations run casinos and other gambling activities have become a visible part of the Canadian landscape. Many people see such enterprises as an important tool of economic development for impoverished First Nations communities, while others view them with suspicion. Beginning with an examination of the role gambling and gaming played in pre-contact Aboriginal society, Yale Belanger traces the history of First Nations gaming institutions nationally. Early legislation designed to control gambling notwithstanding, First Nations leaders persevered and eventually capitalized on the gradual relaxation of the rules permitting lotteries, off-track betting, and the numerous forms of gambling that are legally available today.
Stimulated by events in the United States, where super bingos and tribal casinos were adopted as a way of fostering economic development, Canada's First Nations soon followed suit.
At the heart of the book is an examination of the development of First Nations gambling across Canada, the resultant political battles fought in each province to establish Indian run casinos, and the kinds of agreements that were reached with provincial authorities to legally establish First Nations gambling institutions. Factors including the importance of casino location and management arrangements – which have led some casinos to become very successful and others economically problematic – are discussed in full. Finally, the author looks at challenges First Nations gambling institutions face in the future and the question of the extent to which such institutions are an important engine for economic development of First Nations communities.
Introduction: A Search for Clarity
1 The Historical Perspective
2 The Evolution of Canadian Gaming Legislation
3 The Social, Political, and Economic Context
4 American Indian Gaming: A Brief Overview
5 Ontario: The Legal Ramifications
6 Saskatchewan and Manitoba: Early Days
7 First Nations Gaming in Alberta
8 Social and Political Responses to First Nations Gaming
9 Recent Developments in First Nations Gaming
Conclusion: Room for Optimism
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