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Mohawk Council of Kahnawàke files lawsuit against iGaming Ontario

Ontario's Igaming launches today

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawàke (MCK), a Canadian indigenous representative body, filed a lawsuit on Monday against iGaming Ontario and the Attorney General of Ontario for making changes in how the province carries out its online gaming activities.

The changes were made by iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which was created in July 2021 to regulate the online gambling market.

The changes went through in April 2022, despite the MCK’s request for the regulator to desist. The changes allowed third-party online gaming operators to commence activities in the province, under the condition of gaining approval from iGaming Ontario, who they would give 20% of their revenue. In contrast, land-based casinos are committed to providing 55% of their profit.

MCK has been a regulator in the Canadian province for over 20 years and is responsible for regulating and licensing brick-and-mortar and online operators through the Kahnawàke Gaming Commission (KGC). However, there is a conflict of interest now, as the new changes do not permit KGC-licensed online casino to operate without an authorisation from AGCO.

The council chief of MCK, Mike Delisle Jr said the fault in the alterations included it being illegal, unconstitutional and also a major blow to revenue that is generated by the body.

“This new regime ignores our expertise in the gaming sector and will result in the loss of significant revenue to the community of Kahnawake,” he said.

“The new system shuts Mohawk Online out of the Ontario market and undermines Kahnawake’s expertise in the online gaming industry and will significantly damage the community’s economy.

“The plain facts are that Ontario’s actions are causing a significant loss of important revenues for our community. 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 CEO of Kahnawàke Gaming Commission Dean Montour said, earlier this year, that iGO are going against the constitution and highlighted that MCK is within their right to sue.

“As you may be aware, Mohawk Online is licensed by the Kahnawàke Gaming Commission,” he said.

“In fact, the entire gaming industry in Kahnawàke operates on the strength of its Indigenous jurisdiction through Kahnawàke’s own law and regulations — which have been in place, unchallenged, for over 25 years.

“Gaming activities in Kahnawàke are all conducted/regulated/facilitated on the strength of Kahnawàke’s Indigenous rights, which in Canadian law, are reflected in the Constitution Act, 1982, ss. 35(1).

“Mohawk Online’s site, Sports Interaction, has the legal authority to accept players from the province of Ontario, without the necessity of it being registered with the AGCO or IGO.

“Mohawk Online will continue to accept players from Ontario, whether or not it is registered with the AGCO or iGO.”

iGaming Ontario is in charge of regulating things like sports betting sites and online casinos in the Canadian province.

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