The Mohawk Council of Kahnawàke (Known as MCK), which operates its gambling and online gambling licensing, has filed a motion in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to challenge the constitutionality of Ontario's iGaming framework.
The MCK argues that the province's system does not meet the requirements for gambling outlined in Canada's constitution and is "illegal and unconstitutional."
In Canada, commercial betting and gaming are only legal if they are "conducted and managed" by a provincial government. While most provinces that offer online gambling run a state monopoly, Ontario launched a licensed regime this year with more than 30 licensed operators.
The MCK asserts that Ontario's system allows operators to conduct and manage themselves while paying a portion of their revenues to the province but does not meet the definition of "conducting and managing" gambling. The Council also argues that the competition from the licensed Ontario system will lead to a reduction in revenue for the Kahnawàke tribe.
Kahnawàke Last Resort
Starting in October 2022, The iGaming Ontario regulator announced plans to crack down on operators active in the province that do not hold one of its locally issued licenses, including those licensed by the Kahnawàke Gaming Commission.
Mike Delisle Jr, the council chief, stated that Ontario's actions have resulted in a significant loss of revenue for the community and that being shut out of the largest province in Canada will have detrimental effects on a source of income that has supported community programs and services for the past two decades. The tribe highlighted that the legal challenge is a "last resort" and that previous attempts to work with the government have been ignored.
About the AGCO
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is a regulatory agency that reports to the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) in Ontario. It is a corporation established under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act 2019. It is responsible for approving the alcohol, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis retail sectors in the public interest, focusing on honesty and integrity. To fulfil this cause, the AGCO administers the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019; the Gaming Control Act, 1992; the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015. The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, and charity lottery licensing Order-in-Council 1413/08.