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Shawanaga First Nation Displeased with Ontario’s New iGaming Framework

Shawanaga First Nation has requested the Ontario government to slow down with the introduction of the launch of the new regulated private iGaming market. According to the nation, the federal government and Ontario have failed to consult them, while making changes to the Criminal Code while introducing single-sports wagering and the upcoming arrival of Ontario’s open iGaming regime.

During the summer the First Nation wrote to Ontario’s government requesting more information on who the new iGaming regime will include the tribe. However, the province’s answer was very limited and it did not respond to the nation’s concerns about its exclusion from the regime. In August, the province announced its plans to open the new iGaming market in December.

Contract Broken

Ontario’s government did not consult the First Nations in regard to the new regulated open iGaming market. However, Shawanaga First Nation is the only one that must be informed and consulted about the changes in relation to Shawanaga’s Inherent, Indigenous, and Treaty Rights, Title, and Interests. According to “Honour of the Crown” which is a constitutional obligation the OLG must ensure that such obligations to the tribes are honored.

Recently, the Court of Appeal of Ontario determined that the local government and the OLG have breached the 2008 revenue-sharing agreement with the nations. According to this, the Crown must share three types of revenue with the tribes, one gambling-related and two non-gambling-related ones. The court says that with the decision to outsource its non-gaming amenities to private operators, the OLG breached the contract.

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, which is on September 30, aims towards remembering and honoring crimes against First Nations children. Shawanaga First Nation’s claim is that the government entity deliberately excluded the tribe from the agreement and kept them in the dark regarding the new iGaming market terms. According to the nation, the decision had denied them of inalienable rights to participate in the new gaming opportunities.

Now, the First Nation’s request to the Ontario Government is to honor the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation by immediately putting the new gaming regulations in the province on hold. As those changes would benefit only several major offshore gambling websites, and now the nation is urging the province to begin honorable discussions with them.

Application Process Now Started

Meanwhile, Ontario is continuing its efforts to introduce the new open iGaming market for private operators. A few weeks ago, the province officially started its application process for operators who want in on the local market. In their applications, companies will have to provide entity-level disclosure, including information and supported documentation, and personal disclosure, which includes information and supporting documentation for key individuals.

Other requirements include paying an annual fee of CA$100,000 fee to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for licenses for each gaming site they operate. The application process will be overseen by the recently established subsidiary of the commission iGaming Ontario. The province will begin to grant licenses around the end of this year.

Source: “Shawanaga First Nation calls upon Ford government to pause introduction of new online gambling regime”, Cision, September 30, 2021