After details of the Ontario government’s planned unrolling of its new online gaming market beginning April 4, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) community says it plans to challenge the decision, claiming it violates a constitutional right to consultation with Indigenous leaders.
In a statement, the MSIFN calls the iGaming plans “deeply flawed” and a move that will financially devastate their economy while setting back decades of community development efforts.
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.”
Scugog Island is home to the First Nation-run Great Blue Heron (GBH) Casino and Hotel.
The First Nation says 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, Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, has also spoken out against the Ontario government’s plan.
Tony Rodio, CEO of the company which operates 25 properties across the country, said per CTV News he is “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.”
Before the announcement of Ontario’s plan on January 28, a report aligned with Great Canadian and conducted by HLT Advisory had warned the province over its iGaming roadmap.