KAHNAWAKE – KENTENHKÓ:WA, QC, (November 28, 2022) – The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK) today launched a constitutional challenge against iGaming Ontario and the Attorney General of Ontario over the provincial government’s unilateral changes to the way gaming is managed.
It says the changes are illegal and unconstitutional and is contesting Ontario’sre-
MCK has facilitated, conducted, and safely regulated gaming activities on behalf of the Mohawks of Kahnawake for decades, and says this new regime ignores their expertise in the gaming sector, and will result in the loss of significant revenue to the community of Kahnawake.
The Notice of Application was filed in the Ontario Superior Court this morning. Olthuis Kleer Townshend LLP is representing MCK.
MCK was a vocal opponent of C-218, the bill that became the legislation that changed the iGaming/sports betting landscape to the detriment of Indigenous People. The bill became law in June 2021, and opened the door to Ontario re-interpreting the management of the gaming sector.
As a result, in April 2022, iGaming Ontario (a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) was able to launch its iGaming Framework, which includes single-event sports wagering and relies exclusively on private operators.
The MCK is concerned the Framework disregards the expertise and the rights of First Nations to operate and regulate safe and responsible gaming.
For the past 25 years, the Kahnawà:ke Gaming Commission has provided players with access to safe, well regulated, and responsible gaming. The MCK previously operated in Ontario through its wholly owned subsidiary, Mohawk Online Limited, but is not submitting to this new framework.
Consequently, it is being shut out of the Ontario market because of its unwillingness to participate.
“The plain facts are that Ontario’s actions are causing a significant loss of important revenues for our community,” says Ratsenhaienhs (elected Council Chief) Mike Delisle, Jr. “Until these actions were taken, we were operating legally, safely and successfully across Canada. To be shut out of Ontario – by far the largest province in Canada – will have devastating effects on a source of income that has supplemented programs and services in our community for the last two decades.”
The move to challenge the legality of Ontario’s iGaming framework in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice was a last resort, as the MCK’s attempts to engage in dialogue with government officials are being ignored.
Media Brief: The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke will be hosting a virtual media brief at 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday, November 28 to discuss its legal challenge and its implications. If you’re a member of the media and you wish to attend, please RSVP to the media contact below for access. The cut off for joining the media brief is 2:00 p.m. ET so please RSVP before then.
SOURCE Mohawk Council of Kahnawake