The Ontario government has pledged to make the gaming market more diverse and encourages First Nations groups with casinos on reserve to apply for an iGaming operator license. While some have welcomed this initiative, many are frustrated by how difficult it is to get into the industry as a first-time applicant.

First Nations Frustrated with Ontario's iGaming Market

The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation were enraged by the Ontario government’s new open iGaming market for commercial operators. The Nation has also said that it intends to pursue the case to court, claiming that the province has neglected to have official conversations with Indigenous governments regarding the potential effect of the gaming system in question.


The new open digital gaming market will go live on April 4, 2022, according to iGaming Ontario, which is a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Private operators that have been certified by the regulation will be allowed to legally provide online wagering to local audiences once the market goes live.

Threat to Indigenous Peoples


The Scugog Island First Nation also published a statement in reaction to the government news. In it, the tribe slammed the Ford administration’s intentions to implement a “seriously flawed” iGaming policy. The First Nation is afraid that the new market would devastate the economy and set back decades of community development efforts, and is considering legal action as a result.

The Indigenous tribe also claims that the provincial administration has neglected to have proper discussions with them. This is a breach of its responsibility to consult with and accommodate affected Indigenous communities. Kelly LaRocca, the Chief of the First Nation, called the province’s decision a “slap in the face” to the Nations, saying it “reduces their promises of reconciliation to a joke.”

Furthermore, according to the Nation, the new market will drain millions of dollars from municipalities and First Nations throughout Ontario, as well as the province’s own budget, citing data from gaming specialists. According to the tribe, the new system would jeopardize more than 2,500 well-paying employment. It also said that the administration has not stated how it intends to deal with the budget deficit and casino layoffs.

Ms. LaRocca further said that the provincial government has carelessly disregarded the Indigenous government’s concerns and has failed to propose any alternatives to mitigate the negative effects of the defective iGaming proposal. According to her, the new market poses a big danger, and if the Ford administration refuses to move, the nation will have to hold them responsible in the next elections.

Those who oppose the market are known as “market skeptics.”

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, a large casino operator in Canada, released a research last month on the potential drawbacks of Ontario’s iGaming framework. According to HLT Advisory Inc.’s Ontario Gaming Market Assessment, the new market would result in a loss of more than CA$2.8 billion in gaming revenue, as more players would migrate to online gambling.

Issues in the Past

This isn’t the first time Ontario has been brought to court over a disagreement with a Native American tribe. The Ontario Court of Appeal found last year that the OLG had broken the provisions of the Crown’s revenue-sharing agreement with 132 First Nations throughout the province. The court ordered the government to pay the Nations 1.7 percent of non-gambling earnings.

Source: Chris Hall, The Star, February 2, 2022, “iGaming scheme ‘a smack in the face of First Nations’: MSIFN.”

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