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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Amendments to British Columbia Gaming Control Act – Suspension and Cancellation of Gaming Registrations

By Michael D. Lipton, Q.C. and Kevin J. Weber

In October, the Government of British Columbia introduced Bill 4, Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act (No. 2), 2014 (“Bill 4”). Bill 4 amends a number of statutes, including section 69 of the Gaming Control Act of that province (the “Act”).

In 2010, amendments to the Act were enacted which created some confusion as to the authority of the gaming regulatory authorities to cancel, suspend, impose conditions upon, or vary the conditions upon the registration of a gaming services provider or gaming worker. As section 69(1) of the Act presently reads, it appears that the regulator may cancel or suspend a registration, or impose conditions upon or vary the conditions on such a registration, only “in relation to one or more gaming premises of a registrant.” Not every gaming services provider has a “gaming premises” in the province of British Columbia, making the section confusing as to the authority of the regulator. Prior to 2010, section 69(1) of the Act contained no reference to “premises.”

Bill 4 proposes that section 69(1) of the Act be struck out and in its place, the following would be enacted:

“…the general manager may do any of the following:

(a) issue a warning to a registrant;

(b) cancel a registrant’s registration;

(c) suspend a registant’s registration for a period of time;

(d) impose new conditions on a registrant’s registration, either generally or for a period of time;

(e) vary existing conditions of a registrant’s registration, either generally or for a period of time.”

As well, Bill 4 proposes that a new section 69(3) be added to the Act. This new section would make clear that the conditions that may be imposed or varied upon the registration of a gaming services provider may be applied specifically with reference to the premises at which the registrant carries on business, as follows:

“In the case of a registrant that is a gaming services provider, conditions may be imposed or varied under subsection (1) (d) or (e) in relation to one or more premises at which the registrant carries on the business of providing gaming services and, without limiting this, the conditions imposed or varied may do any of the following:

(a) prohibit the registrant from selling lottery tickets at a premises and require the registrant to ensure that no lottery tickets are sold, by any person, at the premises;

(b) prohibit the registrant from providing one or more other gaming services at a premises and require the registrant to ensure that the prohibited gaming services are not provided, by any person, at the premises;

(c) require the registrant to post the conditions in public view at the premises to which the conditions relate.”

As Bill 4 is currently only at First Reading stage, its provisions are still subject to amendment during the Second Reading process before being given Royal Assent and enacted into law. At present, the amendments appear to simply write into the statute the interpretation which the British Columbia regulators have placed on the Act since 2010. Should any amendments be suggested at further readings which add controversial provisions to the Act, we will report them to our readers at the earliest opportunity.