According to several reports, the Saskatchewan government has asked the RCMP to investigate an online casino launched in the province by a former First Nations chief in Saskatchewan, saying that it is illegal.
A new gaming site was launched at www.northernbearcasino.com on Tuesday by Bernard Shepherd from the White Bear First Nation. The site is on the aboriginal-owned GEObet Gambling Network, a gaming enterprise based on the Tsuu T’ina reserve near Calgary.
“Gambling within the province is something that is controlled and regulated and controlled and regulated carefully. It’s problematic for the province to see an operation that’s not within that framework, so we’ll want to look very carefully through the Ministry of Justice and through (the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority) for the options that are available.”
Acting justice minister Don Morgan said the situation is complex because the website is hosted outside of Saskatchewan.
According to a prior statement from GEObet Network CEO Gerry Gionet, “GEObet is helping Native American tribes to fulfill the natural extension of their rights as sovereign lands to bring their casino gambling businesses into the new millennium. As competition for land based gaming gets fiercer, all land based casino groups, whether they are in California, Nevada or anywhere else in North America, will bring their businesses online. Tribal gaming has the right to protect its interests and compete with state and private casino groups.”
In 1993, Shepherd set up the first casino on the reserve going against provincial gaming laws. The RCMP shut it down and seized slot machines and other gambling equipment in the raid.
Saskatchewan First Nations and the provincial government commenced negotiations thereafter and a deal was struck in which the government and the bands share in profits from casinos.
Online gambling has always been a grey area because it’s hard to take action against online operators as long as the business is conducted in cyberspace.