Ontario iGaming hearings continue through tomorrow

By Marc Lalonde
Local Journalism Initiative

Lawyers representing the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake made their case Tuesday morning in Ontario Superior Court against a new law that permits online gambling in that province.

The MCK chief on hand in Toronto to observe said there will be more to report after lawyers from the Ontario provincial government made their case yesterday.

Hearings are expected to wrap up today, said MCK Chief Tonya Perron.

“There isn’t much to say right now,” Perron said Tuesday evening after the first day of hearings. “We’ll know more on Friday after everything is finished.”

The MCK’s lawyers were challenging the legality and constitutionality of Ontario’s move to allow online gaming, primarily because the government is not conducting and managing gaming itself.

Lawyers from Olthuis Kleer Townshend argued the MCK’s case against Ontario’s gaming model.

“I think we have a good argument. The lawyers did a good job, I thought,” said Perron, the lead on the MCK’s justice and legislation portfolio.

In June 2021, the Criminal Code was amended to permit provinces to conduct and manage single-event sports betting, amongst other iGaming activities, in accordance with provincial laws.

Ontario adopted its own online regulatory framework requiring gaming operators to register with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and enter into Operators Agreements with iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of AGCO, in order to operate their websites in Ontario.

That arrangement infringes upon Kahnawake’s Aboriginal right to conduct, manage and regulate gaming activities, the MCK said.

“We will know more when things get wrapped up. I am hopeful,” Perron said.