The Notion of On-Reserves Gambling in Canada

While a majority of respondents agree that gambling should be licensed on reserves, respondents were also clear that First Nations are not the preferred choice to operate gaming in Canada (see page 9). However, it appears that on-reserve gambling is a viable option if operated in conjunction with government-run gambling.

Economic development arguments can be two pronged in nature. One side of this debate suggests that economic benefit is created in a community because the introduction of gambling brings new employment, business, tourism and revenue to the area. An opposing view suggests gambling hinders economic development because gambling tends to harm existing business, increases the level of addiction in a community, and generates most of its revenue from the surrounding community.

To explore why Canadians favoured on-reserve gambling, respondents were asked to agree or disagree if Ògambling provides opportunities for economic development on Aboriginal/Indian Reserves.Ó Surprisingly, LESS respondents agreed with this viewpoint (45%) than those that agreed with on-reserve gambling (52%) (see Figure 17). Some respondents appear to support on-reserve gambling for reasons other than the economic development of reserves.

The data also suggest that there may be a market for on-reserve gambling. Of those respondents who have gambled in the last 12 months, 55% agree (32% strongly agreeing) that governments should license on-reserve gambling. From a marketing perspective, these are the potential clients of First Nations gambling, and their support, although not overwhelming, suggests a potential market for on-reserve gambling.

These data cannot provide more than a glimpse of public attitudes toward First Nations gambling. What is apparent is that there exists a good basis of support for the concept of First Nations gambling.

FIGURE 17: DO YOU AGREE THAT: “gambling provides opportunities for economic development on Indian Reserves”
Strongly Agree – 13%
Somewhat Agree – 32%
Neither – 15%
Somewhat Disagree – 22%
Strongly Disagree – 13%