Town staff collaborating with Lincolns to comply
The Town of St. Marys is working closely with officials from the St. Marys Lincolns Junior B hockey team after being notified of a forthcoming Notice of Infraction from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
On Wednesday, February 8, the AGCO advised the Town of its concern with the Lincoln’s ongoing Chase the Ace sweepstakes. According to an AGCO representative, the agency became aware of the contest through its regular investigation of local compliance matters. After a review by its legal counsel, the AGCO determined that the Chase the Ace sweepstakes is an unlawful lottery and its continued operation would constitute illegal gaming. The AGCO also informed the Town that it has advised the Ontario Provincial Police of the matter.
The Town will receive the Notice of Infraction because the Lincoln’s games are held at the Pyramid Recreation Centre, a municipally-owned and licensed facility. The AGCO advised the Town that allowing unlawful gaming to continue could result in the loss of the municipality’s liquor licence, and that further sanctions could be applied against the organization.
In order to comply with the AGCO’s instructions, the Town has notified the Lincolns that all activities related to the Chase the Ace sweepstakes must cease at any and all locations within the geographic boundaries of the municipality. To avoid further violations, the Lincoln’s must not advertise the sweepstakes, sell tickets or distribute prize money from draws.
The AGCO’s determination came as a surprise to Lincolns officials. The organization assumed that the Chase the Ace contest’s free entry option would make it a legal sweepstakes, and hoped that the contest would aid the team in recovering lost revenue.
“We have faced a number of financial challenges this year, with the loss of our annual Elimination Draw and now this concern about our Chase the Ace sweepstakes,” said Lincolns’ representative, Stewart Grant. “We respectfully disagree with AGCO’s initial view that Chase the Ace meets the criteria to be considered a lottery activity. Tickets were provided free to community members who purchased Lincoln hockey cards or pursued the ‘no-purchase necessary’ option,” he continued. “We look forward to having a constructive conversation with AGCO to see what our options are to sustain the viability of this hockey club that has been part of the community for the past 60 years.”
For its part, the Town has retained a lawyer who specializes in lottery licences to aid in determining the actions required to resolve the situation. In the meantime, Town staff will continue to collaborate with both the AGCO and the Lincolns to explore potential solutions.
“The Town of St. Marys recognizes the important role that the Lincolns play in the community, and we will support them through this challenge, as we have for many years,” said Brent Kittmer, CAO. “Unfortunately, the Town has no choice but to follow provincial laws established out of the Criminal Code regarding lotteries. We are fully committed to cooperating with the AGCO to achieve compliance and will continue to take the necessary steps to reach that goal.”