Ontario Superior Court affirms legality of iGaming Ontario model

May 13, 2024 8:43 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
May 13, 2024 8:43 PM

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice has dismissed an application brought by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK), challenging the Ontario government’s move to allow online gaming in the province.

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In Ontario, iGaming Ontario (iGO) works with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and the government of Ontario to regulate the industry, protect consumers in areas like responsible gambling, and provide more digital-gaming choices.

Gaming operators first need to be successfully registered with the AGCO, then they need to execute an operating agreement with iGO before they can go live with their product. iGaming Ontario conducts and manages the industry in the province, as defined by iGaming Ontario.

MCK has been a vocal opponent of C-218, the bill that decriminalized new forms of sports gambling in Canada in June 2021. MCK argued that the changes to the way gaming is managed in Ontario are illegal and unconstitutional.

The Ontario Superior Court found Monday that iGaming Ontario’s model is consistent with the Criminal Code.

“We have always been confident in our model and are pleased that the court has ruled in our favor and that Ontarians can continue to play with confidence in our regulated igaming market,” said Martha Otton, Executive Director of iGaming Ontario.

“Ontario’s model meets the requirements and contributes to the public good by protecting players, their data, and their funds, while helping to fund priority public services in Ontario and bringing well-paid high-tech jobs and economic development to Ontario.”

MCK’s legal challenge asserted that iGaming Ontario was not “conducting or managing” the gaming that takes place on private operators’ sites. Instead, iGO was allowing operators to conduct and manage their businesses, with a portion of revenues going to the provincial government.

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke has been in the online gaming industry for 25 years, licensing online-gaming operators on behalf of the Mohawks of Kahnawake. They’d contended that the new way gaming is being managed ignores their expertise in the gaming sector and will result in the loss of significant revenues streams to the community of Kahnawake.

According to the judgment today, “[iGaming Ontario] retains a high degree of control over the operators in a wide array of the igaming scheme’s aspects. These are markers of who is in control of the igaming scheme and who is its operating mind. That operating mind is iGO.”