November, 2017 – A number of liquor licence holders have already made arrangements with Pong Marketing and Promotions Inc. (Pong) to place in their respective licensed establishments the Got Skill game, an electronic, terminal-based game in which a player can win cash prizes based on game play and the player’s wager. The game goes by such names as Princess Jewel, Devil’s Hot, Magic Spell or Money Does Grow on Trees. Based on inquiries that the AGCO has received, other liquor licence holders are raising questions about entering into arrangements with Pong to place the game in their establishments as well. This information bulletin is meant to assist liquor licence holders and gaming registrants by providing relevant information.

The AGCO and Pong have been in discussion for a period of time to resolve questions about the legality of the playing of the game in liquor licensed establishments. As a reminder, subs. 45(1) of Ontario Regulation 719 under the Liquor Licence Act provides that the licence holder must not permit unlawful gambling to occur on the premises. The issue is also relevant for gaming registrants and others. The resolution of the legality of the game will determine whether other private or unlicensed entities may operate the game in accordance with the Criminal Code. 

The parties have resolved to ask the Superior Court of Ontario to hear an application, likely in early 2018, to determine this legal issue.

As part of these discussions, the AGCO has agreed that it will not take regulatory action against a licensee who has such a game in their licensed establishment until a decision has been given by the court. If the final decision of the court is that the games cannot be legally hosted and played in a licensed establishment, the AGCO will direct liquor licence holders to remove the machines from their premises and will allow a reasonable period for licence holders to comply. If the final decision is that the hosting and playing of the game is not contrary to the Criminal Code and/or Liquor Licence Act requirements, the AGCO will allow liquor licence holders to host the game, if there are no other unrelated regulatory issues.

The decision of any licence holder to continue to host or to agree to host such a game in their establishment should take into consideration that the legality of having this game in a licensed establishment will be determined by the courts, likely early next year.

For more information, please contact Ray Kahnert:

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