Got Skill? Not in Ontario, says Court of Appeals Judge

Court of Appeals decides GotSkill’s skill-based games are gambling, therefore illegal in Ontario.

Games of skill versus games of chance – is there really that much of a difference? Ontario Superior Court Justice Andras Schreck thought so last year. Turns out, he was wrong. The Court of Appeals overturned his decision this week regarding a collection of popular skill-based gaming cabinets from the company GotSkill.

The new decision is not being taken lightly – not by the executives at GotSkill, nor the owners of more than two hundred local bars and clubs where the games were installed. Despite their outrage, there’s absolutely nothing that can be done, except for removing the now illegal games, of course. According tot he appellate court’s decision, GotSkill has no grounds to appeal this decision, making it unquestionably final.

GotSkill’s Skill-Based Games are Gambling in Ontario

Ontario Appellate Court says GotSkill's Skill-Based Games are Gambling, Illegal

If you’re one of the countless fans of GotSkill’s gaming cabinets, present throughout locations all over the province, don’t be surprised if these games are missing from your favorite bar or restaurant the next time you visit. Following a legal battle that’s been ongoing for more than a year now, the machines have been declared to be in violation of Ontario’s gaming laws.

According to the Court of Appeals, Justice Schrek made one critical error in his evaluation of the company’s SkillBet cabinets last year. He had determined that players of superior skill would be capable of beating the game, winning more money from the games then they paid to play them. Based on this assumption, he decided that they did not fall under the definition of a game of chance, therefore were not illegal.

The Appellate Court disagreed with this theory based on the fact that only those of exceptional skill could consistently beat the games. The average player, on the other hand, would be reliant more on chance than skill to win, thus losing more than they win. Therefore, the amusements could only be defined as games of chance.

When the appeal was filed earlier this year, GotSkill was confident that another ruling would go in their favor. They weren’t the only ones, either. Many more bars chose to install the skill-based gaming cabinets, while some retailers who already offered the games upped their number of installments by 2-3 times. You can imagine their disappointment now, following an unimagined outcome.

Despite its former confidence, GotSkill did state months ago that if the appeal did not return a decision in their favor, it would result in an abundance of job losses for the company. So far, there’s been no word from corporate as their heads are surely still reeling from the news.

Furthermore, the courts have not issued a timeline for removal of the skill-based games from local area bars and clubs. It’s safe to assume the machines will be made inoperable before the month is out.

AGCO Won’t Tolerate Illegal Gambling in Ontario

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which filed the appeal back in January, is pleased with this latest turn of events. They feel that their rules in regards to gambling in Ontario are very strict, and must not be violated lest the public well-being be put at risk.

AGCO regulations expressly prohibit gambling in bars and restaurants. Gambling is confined to commercial casinos and charitable gaming venues, all of which must obtain authorization from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG). Only First Nations casinos may operate without an OLG license, and even they must abide by certain restrictions.

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