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First Nation Challenges Ontario’s iGaming Sector in Court – Casino Reports

February 22, 2024

Almost two years ago, Ontario kicked off its online casino and sports betting sector for private operators, and the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke was less than pleased with the province. The Quebec-based First Nation took legal action against Ontario over the legality of the market, and it recently rejected the province’s claims on the first day of the court hearing.

Ontario compared the competitive sector for internet gaming to the province’s model for operating land-based casinos. Recently iGaming Ontario explained that provincially-run Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation collaborates with private-sector brands to run brick-and-mortar venues. iGO claimed its framework is similar to the OLG, as operators first need to acquire permission.

MCK Sees the Market as Violation of the Criminal Code

However, Nick Kennedy, an associate at Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP and lawyer for the MCK does not agree. He remarked that there is a difference between running a casino and conducting a game that happens in that casino. The First Nation argues that third-party operators conduct and manage iGaming, which would be considered a violation of the federal Criminal Code.

Meanwhile, iGO’s factum reads that the main problem in the application is the interpretation of ‘conduct and manage’ in section 207(1)(a) of the Criminal Code. Meaning, that if Ontario is conducting and managing the iGaming framework, then the market is legal, if not, then it is not legal. Ontario insists that iGO is running the operations, while the First Nation disagrees.

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