Six Nations joins with Kahnawà:ke to fight Ontario iGaming

By Victoria Gray

Writer

Six Nations is standing up to the province’s new iGaming project by joining forces with Kahnawà:ke.

Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) announced a Mutual Cooperation Agreement on iGaming with the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK) on Tuesday afternoon that is already in effect, to state their intent to defend jurisdiction over Indigenous gaming through “any means necessary.”

“Today’s agreement signifies an important milestone as our communities come together to address our collective concerns,” Elected Six Nations Chief Mark Hill said. “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 parties affirm their mutual commitment to defend, by any means possible, our Indigenous jurisdiction over gaming, and the socio-economic benefits our communities would derive therein,” a statement issues by the SNEC said.

This announcement comes ofter Hill wrote a letter on behalf of both communities on February 3 asking the provincial government to enter into talks with First Nations and denouncing their efforts at reconciliation.

This agreement will form a partnership between both community’s gaming regulatory bodies and opens the door for “mutually beneficial” opportunities in online gaming.

The MOU also partners those regulatory bodies to work together on legal and political strategies. They will also wok toward a shard public relations campaign to “defend their respective jurisdictions and interests in the gaming industry.”

The hope is that other communities across the country will join the partnership to eventually create a national Indigenous gaming regulatory body.

“We are pleased to revitalize relations and strengthen our alliance with our brothers and sisters,”  Ohén:ton Í:iente ne Ratitsénhaienhs Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer said. “Renewal of this longstanding relationship founded on nationhood is the first step needed to strengthen our joint efforts in defending our interests and maintaining a stronghold in the gaming industry and other key areas we identify in the future.”

Both Six Nations and Kahnawà:ke elected chiefs expressed frustrations with changes to Canada’s Criminal Code that they say has “effectively shut out First Nations by willfully ignoring the legitimate interests of Indigenous Peoples in the gaming industry.”

They say the new iGaming project won’t benefit either community and they won’t make accommodations for them and the new measures close Mohawk Online’s access to local markets, but the statement said the two communities will not let that stop them.

“Today, together, we affirm that we will work collaboratively to take all actions necessary to protect and defend our inherent rights to gaming. We will continue to advocate for the advancement of our self-determination without the constant interference of the Canadian and provincial governments. It is optimal for us to achieve this through dialogue and cooperation and to date we, in good faith, have continued to keep that opportunity open,” the statement said.

Ontario announced its iGO project in July 2021 as a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), iGaming Ontario to regulate online gambling and enter into operating agreements with online gaming companies. It purports to usher in fair completion; improve choices for consumers; offer consumer protection; ensure safe, responsible play; prevent underage gaming; ensure company compliance to laws; engender market growth; capture provincial revenue that would otherwise leave the province and to reinvest a portion of revenues in the province.

On January 28 Martha Otton, iGO Executive Director announced the launch of iGO’s new licensing process for third-party online gaming operators on April, 4 2022.

Hill wrote on Feb. 3 that Six Nations has strong objections to that decision and demands they wait until they’ve completed meaningful consultations and accommodations with First Nations and Indigenous communities.

“Gaming is not new to Six Nations of the Grand River. 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 same holds true for many of our Indigenous sister nations across Turtle Island,” it says.

In 1999 The Kahnawà:ke Gaming Commission was established to regulate gaming and now licenses and regulates a number of online casinos, online poker rooms and online sports book sites. It also regulates three bricks and mortar poker rooms on the territory.

In July 1996 Six Nations established the Six Nations Gaming Commission to regulate and license gaming on the reserve.

Hill wrote in the letter that the proceeds from gambling have had “an incredible socio-economic impact to the benefit of our community—but so much more is possible.”

 

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