Six Nations and Kahnawà:ke unite on gaming

The Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke and the Six Nations of the Grand River First Nations have announced they have entered a mutual cooperation agreement which they say will “strengthen our joint efforts in defending our interests”.

Both parties say the agreement will “defend, by any means possible, our Indigenous jurisdiction over gaming” as well as the socio-economic benefits that the communities get from their gaming industry.

The partnership facilitates a memorandum of understanding between each community’s gaming regulatory bodies and creates a space where discussions on potential mutually beneficial opportunities in the iGaming industry can occur.

“Today’s agreement signifies an important milestone as our communities come together to address our collective concerns,” said Six Nations Chief Mark Hill. “This type of partnership is the first step in demonstrating the possibilities of what we can achieve as Iroquois communities if we work together.  We are much stronger not as individuals, but as a collective, and these relationships will strengthen us as we assert our rights and jurisdiction within the gaming industry and beyond.”

Both communities argue that the recent changes to Canada’s Criminal Code and gaming industry has “effectively shut out First Nations by willfully ignoring the legitimate interests of indigenous peoples in the gaming industry”. They have been critical of Ontario’s iGaming model, which they say “will not benefit SNGR or Kahnawà:ke’s socio-economic business, Mohawk Online, as it closes off access to one of its largest local markets”.

Hill added the communities are “disheartened” to learn the Ontario government has moved forward with its iGaming initiative without holding meaningful consultation with First Nations communities in the gaming market. In particular, Six Nations and Kahnawà:ke say that iGaming Ontario’s roadmap will negatively impact Mohawk Online, an online gaming service featuring sports betting, casino and poker games owned by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke and “closes off access to one of its largest local markets.”

“Gaming is not new to Six Nations of the Grand River,” Hill added, per the Brantford Expositor. “It’s an activity that Haudenosaunee people have done for centuries; long before European contact; long before Canada was a country; long before Ontario was a province, and, certainly, long before the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario was established.”

The Six Nations Gaming Commission was created in 1996 to regulate and license gaming in the territory. Since that time, says Hill, the proceeds from those gaming activities “have had an incredible socio-economic impact to the benefit of our community – but so much more is possible.”

The First Nations communities will collaborate on legal, political, and public relations strategies to defend their respective jurisdictions and interests in the gaming industry, as well as welcome other Indigenous communities to the collaboration. They will also begin development on a national body of Indigenous gaming regulators.

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