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BC Ruling Shakes Casinos

23 January 1998

The Ontario government, startled by a British Columbia Supreme Court ruling on charity casinos, is reviewing its own plans for 44 government owned and operated mini-casinos.

Under the original plan in both British Columbia and Ontario, the major share of the profits from the clubs would go to the governments, but last week the BC Supreme Court ruled that the Criminal Code in Canada only allows gambling for charity if all the proceeds go to "charitable or religious purposes." After the court ruled, the BC government halted distribution of profits from its existing "charity" casinos. Although the British Columbia decision is not binding in Ontario, it could be considered if an Ontario court is asked to rule on the charity issue.

In the British Columbia decision, the judge wrote, "Just as it would have ill behooved Robin Hood to have robbed from charity to give to other charities, it ill serves government, even with the best of motives, to in effect expropriate charitable and religious funds."

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