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Rule change allows booze at gambling tables

YOU never would have seen James Bond sipping a martini at a Manitoba casino gaming table before Dec. 28.

Not that the fictional character would have been here anyway, but thanks to a policy change, patrons at any of the province's casinos, including ones in Winnipeg and ones operated by First Nations, can bring an alcoholic drink with them to the gambling areas.

Andrea Kowal, a spokeswoman for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, said before last month's change, patrons could only drink an alcoholic drink in either the casino's bars or restaurants.

"A lot of people were very surprised when we told them they had to keep the drink in the restaurant or bar," she said Thursday. "This change brings Manitoba in line with other Canadian jurisdictions."

Kowal said First Nations casinos made the change earlier in December.

But Kowal said casinos have trained their staff to know when to cut off gamblers who drink. "You are not allowed to gamble if you are intoxicated," she said. "You will be cut off."

Kowal said it's not the first time Manitobans have been able to have an alcoholic drink while playing the VLTs.

"They've been able to have a drink at the bars with VLTs since the early 1990s," she said.

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