Legislation has been tabled in the Canadian Senate to give exclusive control for on-reserve gaming and to regulate its conduct. .

Bill S-268 “ amends section 207 the Criminal Code to provide that the governing body of a First Nation has exclusive authority to conduct and manage a lottery scheme on its reserve and to license the conduct and management of a lottery scheme by other persons and entities on its reserve, if the governing body of the First Nation has provided notice to the Government of Canada and the government of any province in which the reserve is located of its intention to exercise that authority.”

“It is not only going to enhance First Nations community’s lives across Canada, but it will also benefit the economy of Canada. This is a positive step forward,” said Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron.

The legislation tabled today will also amend the Indian Act to allow of Chief and Council’s to pass bylaws regulating gaming on reserve lands. 

“This Act gives control to First Nations over the conduct and management, which is very important. We believe that First Nations are the best casino operators in the country,” explained Reginald Bellerose, Chair of the Board for the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority. “The needs are so great. Poverty, addictions, chronic health at the community level. So, our own-source revenue is badly needed.”

Last week, the province and the FSIN agreed to changes to the Gaming Framework to allow for on-reserve casinos.

The changes in 2023 include an additional 250 slot machines for SIGA casinos, $250,000 per year for the First Nations Addiction and Rehabilitation Foundation, increased opportunities for Indigenous Gaming Regulators beyond charitable gaming, and more opportunities for VLT sites on-reserve. Once the legislation clears the Senate, it will proceed to the House of Commons.