Casino wars: First nation wages war on OLG
The Ontario Lotteries and Gaming Corporation is being dragged to court after signing a 20-year agreement with Gateway Casinos in 2017, permitting them to take over three existing casinos and building two new ones (one in the Kenora area) whilst overlooking the Wauzhushk Onigum tribe who has been trying for years to get an existing casino on the Kenora reserve operational.Back in 2012 the Ontario Lotteries and Gaming Corporation (simply known as OLG) issued a public tender for the development of a casino in the Kenora area. This invited large companies from all over to bid for the land. By making the tender public, bigger companies could easily outbid local ones, and this is exactly what happened.
What Led To This War?
In 2017 Gateway Casinos signed a 20-year agreement with OLG stating that they will be taking over three existing casinos and building two new ones. One of the two new casinos will be built in the Kenora area, much to the dismay of Wauzhushk Onigum, a First Nation tribe in Kenora who has been trying to get the casino currently on their land up and running again.
The casino operated for 10 years before Ontario took its license away. For many years Wauzhushk Onigum has been working towards getting the license back by spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade the casino. However, the requirements to get their license back just kept on changing.
The Agreement Between First Nation Tribes and OLG
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is owned by the government of Ontario and responsible for all the province’s lotteries, charitable bingo, and gaming, casinos, slot machines and games that can be found at horse racing tracks.
A funding arrangement (the Gaming Revenue Sharing and Financial Agreement) currently exists between Ontario and the Ontario First Nations, whereby OLG is to give back 1.7 percent of total revenue to the Ontario First Nations (2008) Limited Partnership. These funds are to be used for the development of the community, health, education, economic development, and cultural development. This agreement was signed back in 2008 during the settlement of a $2.1 billion lawsuit.
The Reason for Injunction
Casinos on First Nation reserves could provide an important opportunity to develop the local economy and infrastructure, create jobs, and provide funding to combat other social problems. However, Wauzhushk Onigum’s attempts at getting their license back keeps on being overlooked.
This is evident from the 2017 tender assignment to Gateway Casinos. For this reason, the tribe is seeking an injunction to prevent Gateway Casinos or OLG from building a casino in the Kenora area until the tribe has been given a chance to present their case for upgrading and operating the existing casino.
The Wauzhushk Onigum tribe feels feel that the casino could improve the lives of community members and strengthen the local economy, but that they have been left out of any casino developments in the Kenora area.
Gateway Casinos & Entertainment Limited is one of the largest gaming entertainment companies in Canada, operating 27 properties in British Columbia, Edmonton, Alberta, and Ontario. In Ontario alone, they operate a total of 11 casinos.
Instead of helping to stimulate growth and development in local communities, as stated in the 2008 funding agreement with the First Nations, OLG is helping an already large company further its reach, excluding and disadvantaging local communities in the process.
During the four days of hearings, all sides will be heard by a panel of judges. If you want to know more and experience a great online casino, take a look at the following site.