MCK launches legal challenge against iGaming Ontario for damaging revenue

Posted: Nov 29, 2022 13:15 Category: Online , Regulatory , Sportsbetting , Posted by Sharon Singleton

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK)  has launched a legal challenge against iGaming Ontario and the state’s Attorney General, saying its online gambling scheme has had a severe impact on tribal revenues.

The MCK has filed a Notice of Application with the Ontario Superior Court, challenging the legality and constitutionality of Ontario’s “unilateral re-interpretation of the conduct and manage provisions of the Criminal Code.”

The Canadian province officially launched iGaming in April this year, allowing third-party operators to offer online gambling and sports betting. The firms need to be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and retain 80 percent of the profit generated by their sites. 

“Ontario’s iGaming scheme will undermine the industry that Kahnawà:ke has built over the past 25 years and as a result will significantly damage Kahnawà:ke’s economy,” the MCK said in a statement. 

Prior talks fail

The MCK said it has attempted to discuss the issue with both Ontario officials and Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti, without success. 

Kahnawà:ke has been licensing both online and land-based gambling operators since 1996 through the Kahnawà:ke Gaming Commission (KGC). While Mohawk Internet Technologies has been facilitating online gambling through its facility since 1999. 

The group said that the new iGaming regime in Ontario threatens to undermine its position. 

According to an August report from AGCO, it had attracted 18 operators, offering 31 gaming websites in the quarter ending on June 30th. Total gaming revenue during the period was $162 million. 

“We feel that the legal basis for Ontario’s iGaming scheme needs to be challenged in the Courts and being used to cause irreparable harm to Kahnawà:ke’s own legitimate and well-established gaming industry,” said Ratsénhaienhs (elected Council Chief) Michael Delisle, Jr. “The plain facts are that Ontario has implemented an iGaming scheme, which is based on a very tenuous legal foundation, that is causing a significant loss of revenues for our community. Until Ontario sought to impose its ill-designed reinterpretation of “conduct and manage” on operators and service providers, Kahnawà:ke was able to successfully operate across Canada in a regulated manner,” he said. 

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