Liquor, Cannabis and Gaming

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) uses monetary penalties as an additional compliance tool for licensees, permit holders, authorized retailers, and registrants who have contravened the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 (LLCA), the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA), the Gaming Control Act, 1992 (GCA), and their Regulations. A monetary penalty is a financial consequence where the licensee, permit holder, authorized retailer or registrant pays a defined amount as a result of a contravention of the LLCA, CLA and/or GCA.  

The AGCO is required to use funds collected through monetary penalties exclusively for education and training programs for licensees, authorization holders, permit holders and registrants and as well as for public awareness campaigns, which will further promote compliance with the law in the future. This should encourage a greater understanding of regulatory requirements by industry stakeholders, as well as the responsibilities of the public-at-large and help to create an environment more conducive for regulatory compliance, which will further promote compliance with the law in the future.

How monetary penalties affect licensees, permit holders, authorized retailers and registrants

Monetary penalties are part of the AGCO’s compliance tool kit, and act as a bridge between a warning and suspension or revocation of a licence, permit, authorization, or registration. Monetary penalties provide the AGCO with an additional compliance tool for working with those it regulates before a suspension or revocation may be necessary.

In other words, monetary penalties are designed to promote compliance so that the suspension or revocation of a licence, authorization or registration does not become a necessary measure. In the case of a repeated or severe infraction, a monetary penalty may not be imposed even if it is available; instead, the Registrar may propose immediate suspension or revocation where appropriate.

AGCO Board Guidelines — Monetary Penalties

Made pursuant to subsection 6(3) of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act, 2019 for the imposition of monetary penalties established pursuant to subsection 14(2) of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act, 2019.

PREAMBLE

Monetary penalties provide the Registrar with a tool to support a compliance-based regulatory regime.

To ensure transparency and fairness, the Board articulates the following factors for consideration by the Registrar when exercising discretion to impose this form of discipline on a licensee or permit holder under the Liquor Licence and Control Act, a licensee or authorization holder under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 or a registrant under the Gaming Control Act, 1992.

DECISION TO IMPOSE A MONETARY PENALTY

When deciding whether to impose a monetary penalty rather than some other form of discipline on a licensee, authorization holder, permit holder, or registrant, the Registrar shall have regard and give appropriate weight to the following non-exhaustive list of factors:

  1. The monetary penalty’s potential effectiveness in ensuring future compliance by the licensee, authorization holder, permit holder or registrant;
  2. The discipline history of the licensee, authorization holder, permit holder or registrant, such as prior written warning, conditions or terms, monetary penalties, suspensions, revocations and/or prosecutions;
  3. The manner in which the contravention was discovered or disclosed;
  4. Whether the contravention involved actual or potential injury or loss to persons, property, or both;
  5. The type, size and location of the licensee, authorization holder, permit holder, registrant or registered business, where relevant;
  6. Any mitigating circumstances, including compliance history; and,
  7. The need for general or specific deterrence.

Monetary penalties as an additional tool to promote compliance with the law

Including monetary penalties, the types of compliance tools available to the Registrar to deal with contraventions of the LLCA, CLA, GCA and their Regulations include:

  • Education;
  • Verbal warning;
  • Written warning;
  • Monetary penalty;
  • Increased monetary penalty;
  • Additional licence conditions, terms of authorization, or terms of registration, including through Risk-Based Licensing and Risk-Based Registration;
  • Suspension of licence, authorization or registration;
  • Increased suspension of licence, authorization or registration;
  • Revocation of licence, permit, authorization or registration.

Monetary penalties can be selected from a series of escalating regulatory options available - ranging from warnings to revocations – in order to gain compliance. The schedules of monetary penalties that have been established by the Board of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (the Board) and approved by the Minister can be viewed below.

The amount of the monetary penalty will be based on the approved Schedules. Each infraction has a certain maximum monetary penalty associated with it. The ranges of monetary penalties are designed to address the specific risks posed by each infraction and by the various industries regulated by the AGCO. It is important to note that the amounts listed in the schedules are maximums only and that penalties assessed may actually fall lower in the potential range, based on individual circumstances.

For example, if the monetary penalty for X is up to $1,000 then the Registrar may impose a monetary penalty of any amount up to $1,000 depending on the circumstances of the infraction, including other factors such as the compliance history of the licensee.  

Assessment of monetary penalties

Monetary penalties are not an ‘on the spot’ ticket system, such as one would get for a traffic or parking violation. Instead, the process for assessing a monetary penalty is similar to the one used to make decisions about proposals to suspend or revoke a licence, and the information provided to the Registrar will flow through the same channels. This approach allows licensees, permit holders, authorized retailers and registrants the ability to provide input before monetary penalties are imposed. In many cases, a licensee, permit holder, authorized retailer or registrant will be given the opportunity to provide comments to the AGCO to discuss the specifics of the situation before any monetary penalties are imposed.

The amount of an assessed monetary penalty is based on the particular circumstances of the infraction, as set out above in the AGCO Board Guidelines — Monetary Penalties. Each infraction will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and a graduated approach may be used for repeat infractions. Seldom are two situations exactly the same, even for the same type of infraction.

Any licensee, permit holder, authorized retailer or registrant assessed a monetary penalty may reuquest an appeal before the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT), which may uphold or set aside the monetary penalty for the infraction. However, if LAT upholds the monetary penalty, it cannot adjust the actual amount of the penalty imposed by the Registrar.

Horse Racing

The AGCO Board has authority under section 14(2) of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act, 2019 to establish, subject to the approval of the Minister, a schedule of monetary penalties that may be imposed with respect to contraventions of the Acts and regulations administered by the Commission. This includes the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 (HRLA) and regulation made thereto, although the AGCO Board has not yet established a schedule of monetary penalties for that Act or its regulations.

Under the HRLA and the Rules of Racing, Judges, Stewards and Racing Officials have the power to fix, impose and collect penalties for contraventions of the Rules of Racing.

The AGCO is required by legislation to use all money received from monetary penalties and penalties collected pursuant to contraventions of the Rules of Racing for education and training programs for licensees as well as for public awareness purposes.

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