Are there concerns about illegal gaming on First Nations reserves? It was a topic of discussion for the police team charged with cracking down on such crimes. But Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Minister George Abbott said last night has never been "flagged" for him during the seven months he's been in that post. On December 16, 2008, according to meeting minutes obtained via a freedom of information request, the integrated illegal gaming enforcement team's consultative board mentioned, "Some FNs believe gaming is an inherent right. Non-FN gaming is enforced and RCMP wants to be consistent."
"Information about the extent of FN gaming activities, complaints and where proceeds end up was discussed, but there was not agreement among the group about the extent of the problem or the enforcement respond required," the minutes continued.
Nor was that first time the board had discussed illegal gaming on First Nations reserves. The minutes also show it was a topic of discussion on November 30, 2005 and April 25, 2006.
But when asked about the issue last night on Voice of BC, Minister Abbot stated, "Well, to be honest, I can't recall anytime in the months that I've been the minister of aboriginal relations where the question of illegal gaming has ever come up. It actually never has come up in our ministry discussions."
"So it may be issue," he acknowledge. "I don't know whether it's more of an issue on reserves than it is in any other corner of downtown Vancouver or elsewhere in British Columbia. I have no idea at all. It's certainly has not been flagged for me as an issue by the ministry at all."
The enforcement team was quietly shutdown on April 1, 2009.