Sports betting issue moving slowly but surely: Delisle

·2 min read

A pair of high-level meetings in the last week are a sign that progress is coming slowly but surely on the possibility of single-event sports betting falling under federal auspices with a carve-out in the Criminal Code for Indigenous communities, an MCK chief said earlier this week.

Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Chief Mike Delisle said Tuesday he had already engaged in high-level discussions and that the MCK Has already signed Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with other Indigenous communities across Canada in an effort to lay the groundwork to form a network that would be able to hit the ground running in the event sports wagering comes back under federal control.

Right now, oversight of lotteries and sports betting is a provincial jurisdiction, but that could change if the federal government is successful at wrestling control of lotteries and gaming away from the provinces – and then the feds would create a carve-out in the Criminal Code to allow for single-event sports betting, Delisle said.

“Last year, (federal justice minister) David Lametti engaged in discussions with Indigenous communities and made it clear this was a way they’d like to proceed,” Delisle said. “So, we have engaged with discussions with them and other Indigenous communities to team up. Thus, the memorandums of understanding have been signed and we are moving slowly in that direction.”

Last week, Mohawk Council of Kahnawake Grand Chief Kahsennenhawe Sky-Deer spent time on the dossier in a meeting with Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald, while this week, Delisle said, he has also engaged in high-level discussions with his counterparts in other First Nations across Canada.

“It’s definitely something we need to be ready for, and it’s moving slowly, but surely. Obviously, when we are dealing with governments, change can come a little slower than some would like, but we are preparing for the possibility,” said Delisle, who has held the gaming portfolio the MCK for the better part of two decades.

Will wresting control of the provincial stranglehold on gaming and lottery revenues be something the federal government can actually pull off? Delisle isn’t sure.

“It’s hard to say how that’s going to end up going, but we’ll do what we always do, which is be ready, work on our preparedness and continue to engage in discussion,” he said.

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase