Many First Nations in Canada run casinos and other gambling enterprises, which have become a visible part of the Canadian landscape and foster economic development. Although early legislation was designed to control gambling, events in the US stimulated First Nations leaders to persevere and eventually capitalize on the gradual relaxation of the rules permitting lotteries, off-track betting, and the numerous forms of gambling that are legally available today. Yet, there are also future challenges First Nations gambling institutions face, especially the extent to which such institutions are an important engine for economic development of First Nations communities or if they are detrimental. Examining the role gambling and gaming played in pre-contact Aboriginal society, Belanger traces the history of First Nations gaming institutions nationally, and the political and legal battles fought provincially.
Dr. Yale D. Belanger is an assistant professor of Native American Studies at the University of Lethbridge. His doctoral work at Trent University focused on the emergence and evolution of Aboriginal political organizations in late 19th- and early 20th-century Canada.