Ontario First Nation to launch legal challenge against government’s iGaming scheme

A First Nation community says they plan to challenge the Ford government’s decision to move ahead with online gambling, claiming it violates a constitutional right to consultation with Indigenous leaders.

The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) calls the Ontario government’s iGaming plans “deeply flawed” and a move that will financially devastate their economy while setting back decades of community development efforts.

iGaming Ontario announced Friday that private operators that have registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission can begin offering their services to players on April 4th.

It says most internet gambling by Ontarians currently takes place on websites not managed by the province, the new legal market will ensure integrity, fairness and player protections.

It says the provincial market will also generate revenue that can help fund programs and services.

Kelly LaRocca, Chief of MSIFN, called the announcement a “slap in the face of First Nations, and reduces their promises of reconciliation to a joke.”

The First Nation say the provincial government has ignored section 35 of Canada’s Constitution, claiming the Ford government utterly failed to hold formal consultations with Indigenous governments – a violation of its duty to consult and accommodate impacted Indigenous groups.

“The Ford government has recklessly ignored our concerns and has not offered any strategies to address the impact that their inadequate plan will have on our First Nation, our culture and our ability to provide services to our community,” said LaRocca.

“We intend to challenge the province’s iGaming scheme in court.”

One of Canada’s largest casino operators is also speaking out against the Ford government’s plan.

Great Canadian Gaming Corp., which operates 25 properties across the country including casinos in Toronto, Ajax, Pickering, Brantford and Peterborough, says while they support iGaming in principle, it will not create a level playing field that will benefit the province or its communities. will put thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in government revenue at risk.

“We are disappointed by today’s decision, which puts thousands of good-paying jobs and billions of dollars in government revenue at risk in favour of jobless, offshore online gaming,” said Tony Rodio, CEO of Great Canadian Gaming.

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