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Alberta government moves ahead with First Nations Gaming Policy

Government of Alberta News Release - January 19, 2001

The Government of Alberta has approved a new First Nations Gaming Policy.

"Some Alberta First Nations have long expressed an interest in establishing on-reserve casinos. We have worked together for several months to develop a policy that meets the needs of the Aboriginal community yet adheres closely to Alberta's unique charitable gaming model," said Gaming Minister Murray Smith. "The new policy provides interested First Nations with a road map to applying for and operating a casino facility."

"This agreement is the culmination of years of discussion and dialogue between the government and Alberta First Nations. It is also the first major economic agreement secured collectively by First Nations, with either the provincial or federal government," said Ron Morin, Chief of the Enoch Cree Nation and Interim Chair of the Alberta First Nations Gaming Association. "First Nations gaming will provide immediate, direct economic and social benefits for all our peoples."

Discussions to develop a new First Nations Gaming Policy began in July 2000. The major obstacle identified by the First Nations was their lack of access to traditional charities. A typical casino in Alberta needs to involve approximately 180 charities to operate year round. Under the new policy, the host First Nation will be designated as the charity, through a distinct not-for-profit society.

The Alberta government and First Nations have agreed that the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) will regulate the new gaming policy. In addition, any eventual First Nation casinos will operate under the same terms and conditions as off-reserve casinos.

"This policy is consistent with the government's Aboriginal Policy Framework, and is a good example of our ongoing commitment to work with Aboriginal people to increase opportunities for their participation in Alberta's economy," said Associate Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Pearl Calahasen.

The First Nations Gaming Policy is an important part of Alberta's review of gaming licensing policies. The review continues to look at licensing policy for casinos, video lottery terminals (VLTs) and new games. The review is expected to be completed by the summer of 2001, with the existing freeze on gaming expansion remaining in place until that time.

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