TRUSTED ADVISOR AND ADVOCATE
TRUSTED ADVISOR AND ADVOCATE
The Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) regulates lotto ticket sellers, “gaming” and “non-gaming” suppliers, casinos, casino employees, and their unions under the Gaming Control Act, 1992 ("GCA"). They regulate by upholding the principles of honesty and integrity, and protecting the public interest. The AGCO employs an individual called a “Registrar” to make administrative decisions regarding applicant’s and licensee’s ability to operate in the gaming industry. Particularly, the AGCO will administer the GCA to regulate the following individuals and businesses:
Burokas Law acts as a gaming licence lawyer by representing individuals and businesses applying for a licence or facing any kind of administrative action from the AGCO. Common examples include:
The GCA prohibits unlicensed individuals and corporations from providing goods and services to a non-licensee related to any “lottery schemes”- a game or any proposal, scheme, plan, means, device, contrivance or operation involving at least come chance, subject to exceptions. Some of the activities that require a licence include (non-exhaustive):
The Gaming Control Act, outlines multiple different types of suppliers, each with specific rights and obligations:
There are various mandatory requirements that must be met before an individual, corporation, or partnership can be registered as one or more of a classes of supplier. The Registrar must refuse to register or renew the registration of an applicant as a supplier if:
These are the same criteria the Registrar will use in deciding whether to suspend or revoke a registration.
The Gaming Control Act also prohibits unregistered individuals and all corporations from receiving money to provide services related to the operation of a gaming site, playing of a lottery scheme, or the operation of a business related to one of the two. There are two types of gaming assistants.
Employees of lottery schemes or gaming sites who, in the Registrar’s opinion, exercise a significant level of decision making authority or has significant supervisory training responsibilities. A person must be registered as such to engage in these activities. Subject to some exemptions.
Employees of lottery schemes or gaming sites who, in the Registrar’s opinion, do not exercise the significant decision making authority described by Category 1. A person must be registered as such to engage in these activities. Subject to some exemptions.
The Registrar will issue a Proposal to Refuse an application for registration as a gaming assistant or an application to renew registration if:
The same criteria is relied on by the Registrar to suspend or revoke a gaming assistant registration.
Investigations, Inquires, and Inspections
The AGCO has the ability to make inquires and conduct investigations into applicants and licensees in regards to their competence, financial history, or character, in order to determine whether they meet, or continue to meet, the requirements for their licence. This includes investigating interested persons, officers, directors, shareholders or partners. The Registrar can require information or material from these individuals to assist in their inquiry or investigation.
The applicant or licensee must pay reasonable costs or provide security to the Registrar to pay for the inquiry or investigation.
The AGCO also employs inspectors who routinely inspect licensees’ premises to ensure compliance with the Liquor License Act and may inspect/remove documents, inquire about bank accounts and financing, conduct tests, and remove materials for testing purposes with a search warrant.
The Gaming Control Act, like many professional regulatory statutes, utilizes the concept of an “interested person” to ensure individuals who have , or may have influence over a licensee are subject to the same scrutiny as individuals or corporations who apply or hold licences. A person is deemed to be an interested person of another if:
If the Registrar of the AGCO deems an individual an interested person of a applicant or licensee, they will consider and attribute that individual’s past conduct in deciding whether to refuse, revoke, suspend, or fail to renew a licence.
Proposals- Refuse, Revoke, Suspend, or Refuse to Renew
If the Registrar believes that an applicant or licensee does not meet one or many of the above listed criteria for the relevant type of licence, he or she will issue a proposal. A proposal is an administrative action the Registrar can take to either refuse an application, revoke an application, suspend an licence, or refuse to renew a licence when it’s up for renewal.
A proposal is a legal document outlining what administrative action the Registrar is taking and why. These reasons must be grounded in the above listed criteria for each type of licence.
The Registrar of the AGCO does not have final authority to determine whether a licence or permit should be refused, suspended, or revoked. Individuals and corporations receiving a proposal can appeal the Registrar’s decision to the Licence Appeal Tribunal, an independent tribunal that hears evidence and arguments about why a licence should or should not be granted/suspended. To appeal, an individual or corporation must serve a notice of appeal to the Licence Appeal Tribunal and the Registrar within 15 days of receiving the proposal. Otherwise, the proposal will be carried out and whatever being proposed will come into effect.
Hearings at the Licence Appeal Tribunal are governed by their Rules of Practice and Procedure. Generally, hearings are similar to a trial in court where each party may make opening submissions, call evidence, cross-examine the other party’s evidence, and make closing submissions. A member of the Licence Appeal Tribunal will sit as an independent adjudicator and make findings of fact, weigh evidence, make witness credibility findings, and apply those findings to applicable law.
It common to attach conditions on the various licences described above. They often arise in situations where the Registrar has some concerns with an applicant or licensee, but they do not rise to the level of initiating or continuing with a proposal. Such conditions may impose restrictions on conduct or simply reiterate obligations already mandated by the GCA, and it’s regulations. Conditions can be either imposed by the Licence Appeal Tribunal as outcome of a hearing, ordered as part of a resolution, or consented to by the applicant/licensee.
Offences and Prosecution
The AGCO also has powers to charge individuals and corporations with offences and prosecute them in court. Offences include:
The ACGO employs investigators to investigate potential offences. Like Police officers, they are given broad search and seizure powers if they legally obtain a search warrant.
Individuals found guilty of one of these offences (except lottery tickets to minors or not informing the Registrar of address changes) can be sentenced to a fine up to $50,000 ($500,000 for corporations) and one year in prison.
Any conviction under the GCA will have severe consequences on an applicant’s or licensee’s ability to enter or remain in the gaming industry.
If you or your business are seeking a licence, require advice, or are subject to an administrative action by the AGCO, please don't hesitate to contact Burokas Law.