Ontario iGaming and Sports Betting Survive Legal Challenge

Ontario iGaming and Sports Betting Survive Legal Challenge
By Steve Bittenbender
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

An Ontario judge has set aside a case filed by a First Nations people who claimed the province’s system to regulate Ontario online casinos and sports betting was illegal.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Lisa Brownstone issued a 26-page decision Monday in favor of iGaming Ontario and the province’s attorney general. They were defendants in a case brought forward by the Quebec-based Mohawk Council of Kahnawá:ke, who said the Ontario sports betting and online casino operators serve as “backdoor private contractors” in Canada’s most populous province.

“I conclude that the province has retained key decision-making power over the iGaming scheme,” wrote Brownstone, who heard arguments in late February. She added that operators are not allowed to decide which games are approved, nor are they able to advertise how they choose. Instead, they must operate within the rules created by provincial leaders for Ontario sportsbooks and iGaming.

MCK Claims Financial Loss

The current system of online gaming in Ontario has been in effect for two years. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario created iGaming Ontario (or iGO) to manage companies interested in operating in the province. As that work was processing, federal lawmakers were pushing to lift the ban on single-event sports betting. When that law passed, it opened the door for iGaming Ontario to oversee both online casinos and online operators offering Ontario sports betting apps.

MCK, which operates Sports Interaction sportsbook and casino in all Canadian provinces outside of Ontario, argued that being unable to offer gaming in the province would have serious financial repercussions for the council, which provides various services and programs to its members. Sports Interaction Ontario sportsbook is run by British-based gaming operator Entain.

A message to an MCK spokesperson seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Ontario Gaming Leader Hails Verdict

In a statement published shortly after the verdict became public, iGaming Ontario Executive Director Martha Otton praised the ruling.

“We have always been confident in our model and are pleased that the court has ruled in our favour, and that Ontarians can continue to play with confidence in our regulated iGaming market,” she said.

The iGO oversees 49 approved operators that offer online sports betting, iGaming and Ontario online poker across the province. It is the only province in the nation that has a regulated market, though others are considering following suit. Across the border, more than 30 markets in the United States offer online sports betting, online casinos or both.

In its second year of operation, Ontario iGaming operators accepted $63 billion CAD in wagers and reported $2.4 billion CAD in gaming revenues for the fiscal year that ended in March 2024.

“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,” Otton added.

Stay with OntarioBets.com for more coverage of the industry as well as reviews of the best Ontario casino apps available.

USA Today photo by Dan Hamilton

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Author

Steve is an accomplished, award-winning reporter with more than 20 years of experience covering gaming, sports, politics and business. He has written for the Associated Press, Reuters, The Louisville Courier Journal, The Center Square and numerous other publications. Based in Louisville, Ky., Steve has covered the expansion of sports betting in the U.S. and other gaming matters. He shares his expertise on OntarioBets, among other sites.

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