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Canada – Northern Bear Casino Shut Down

October 13, 2014

The Northern Bear Casino was not something run by the government, but perhaps it is reflective of the ineptitude of offering something to the Canadian ,market that can't really compete with that of the big offshore operators. Apparently it was the first online casino that was opened in the province of Saskatchewan, but it won't be serving anyone anytime soon.

It was announced last week that Northern Bear was shutting its virtual doors, and the reasons were very simple - they were economic in nature.

Bernie Shepherd, the CEO of the company that operated the casino (GEObet Gambling Network), explained that the costs were too high to operate, even in a virtual environment.

To say that Northern Bear was sort of an "outlaw" enterprise would not be far from the truth. Shepherd, you see, is the former chief of the White Bear First Nation and it was the tribe's position that it could operate an online gaming destination without approval from the government. Two decades ago, Shepherd had opened a land-based facility right there on the reservation. Of course, that met with quite a bit of resistance, and machines in the casino were seized, but eventually an accord was reached that allowed for gaming expansion within the province - putting millions of dollars into the treasury of First Nations.

In November 2012, Shepherd, operating under the same principles of "constitutional rights," started the online casino, with servers in the Virgin Islands, without notice to the provincial government. Of course, his position was that he had every right to do so. And he had licensing independently from a First Nation in Quebec. Saskatchewan had a policy against online casino gambling because they felt as if the social risks outweighed any of the potential benefits.

It was considered to be a certain "gray area" for the online casino as operated within the auspices of a tribe, since, among other things, it was being conducted in cyberspace.

It was kind of curious that Shepherd was pointing to the costs of running an online casino as being too great to continue, because in almost all cases, they are more cost-efficient than a physical casino location. The only conclusion that a reasonable person can come to is that he simply didn't have enough bankroll to handle the wagers, and if that is the case, it will interesting now to see if anyone comes forward claiming that they were "stiffed" out of their winnings.

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