P.E.I. government releases e-gaming documents

Teresa Wright
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The P.E.I. government has finally released a document that outlines details of a $950,000 government loan that funded the province’s controversial e-gaming scheme. The Guardian filed a Freedom of Information request in November 2013, requesting details of the $950,000 loan from Innovation P.E.I. to the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. Now, more than two years later, Innovation P.E.I. has finally released the one-page document, which outlines what is referred to as the “Proposed Budget” of the e-gaming initiative.

The P.E.I. government has finally released a document that outlines details of a $950,000 government loan that funded the province's controversial e-gaming scheme.

The Guardian filed a Freedom of Information request in November 2013, requesting details of the $950,000 loan from Innovation P.E.I. to the Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I.

Now, more than two years later, Innovation P.E.I. has finally released the one-page document, which outlines what is referred to as the "Proposed Budget" of the e-gaming initiative.

The loan funded the work of a secret gaming committee that worked on a proposal to make Prince Edward Island an Internet gambling regulator for Canada, a plan that would have created tens of millions of dollars in new tax and licensing revenues for both the P.E.I. and Mi’kmaq governments.

The document released to The Guardian Monday is a breakdown of deliverables intended to try to turn the e-gaming scheme into a reality.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE COMPLETE DOCUMENT

Thousands were spent on legal and technical work, including $150,000 to “finalize legislation,” which was scheduled for completion by Sept. 30, 2011. Another $85,000 was spent on a communications strategy for the province and the Mi’kmaq Confederacy, which was also to be complete by Sept. 30, 2011.

Money was also spent on hashing out the regulatory regime to make the e-gaming plan work, including $100,000 to establish a regulatory function and $50,000 for employment contracts for a regulatory chair and supporting staff.

Work on some of the deliverables listed began long before the actual loan agreement was approved, which meant costs for this work were for reimbursements.

The Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. (MCPEI) was one such beneficiary, getting $100,000 of the loan money for “expenditures already funded.”

Don MacKenzie, executive director of MCPEI and one of the members of the gaming committee, said Monday the amounts outlined in this document were the budgeted figures and represent “a fair outline of the project work and expenditures.”

“All funds were spent on the joint provincial/Mi'kmaq governments' project to create a regulatory framework in relation to the unregulated online gaming industry,” he said in an email to The Guardian.

Funds were paid to the private law firm, McInnes Cooper, for legal services and for work the firm provided co-ordinating the engagement of technical experts for such initiatives as the transaction platform, technology-based game oversight and legislative and regulatory drafting, MacKenzie said.

“McInnes Cooper's work on the file was over a period of a few years. Creating a regulatory framework was a substantial project that involved a number of professional services being provided. While the province and MCPEI were partners in this endeavour, it was always agreed that the province would fund the development of it. Prior to the $950,000 being advanced, MCPEI covered $100,000 worth of professional expenses, on the condition that the sum would be reimbursed by the province, which occurred. All funds were used to pay legal/technical/professional fees associated with creating the regulatory framework.”

THE PROPOSED LOAN BUDGET

But some of the proposed expenditures raise questions, such as why $25,000 was budgeted for “government approvals” and what happened to $75,000 budgeted to “finalize operating agreements with operators,” considering the e-gaming plan was scrapped long before it got to the stage of finalizing agreements.

Questions will also be raised about $135,000 budgeted to “establish the financial transaction platform,” as the only part of this aspect of the e-gaming plan that materialized was a $60,000 report completed by the U.K. firm Simplex.

The Guardian requested copies of the legislation and contracts listed in this document from the province, but they were not provided.

“As the project did not proceed, the regulatory function was not established, however work was performed on what would be required to establish that function,” the province said in an emailed statement.

“This work was technical in nature. No government officials or employees were beneficiaries.”

The document was released thanks to a ruling last month by Privacy Commissioner Karen Rose. Innovation P.E.I. had 30 days to file a judicial review of this ruling, but chose instead to release the document ahead of the 30-day deadline.

 

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Canada, U.K.

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  • Anthony Cruz
    April 27, 2016 - 19:33

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  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    March 16, 2016 - 16:56

    When can we expect the hard investigative questions on this matter to begin . Maybe this politicial story will get dropped like a hot potato too .

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    March 16, 2016 - 13:22

    Assuming there will be some serious investigating reporting to follow on this story . There are more questions here then answers . This document raises more questions , i figure will never be asked or looked into or followed up on like most political stories on this Island .

  • Regular Joe
    Regular Joe
    March 16, 2016 - 12:59

    Why are posts made to this story not getting posted . I have posted 3 times to this story and not once has one been posted .

  • Nicki
    March 15, 2016 - 18:55

    Amazing that I am the only one with questions about this. When will we see copies of invoices for these expenditures, most of which seem very premature in relation to the state of progress when the whole things was called off? The Premier needs to show it ALL - IT IS OUR MONEY THEY TOOK, WE MUST SEE WHERE IT WENT.

  • EL Douglas
    March 15, 2016 - 14:07

    Good to see the budget, the most important part of the information is missing. The budget does not add up to the reported $950,000 Thus tax payers should know the following: 1. Exactly who received money? 2. What was the money paid for? 3. When was the money paid? 4. Who signed the checks? 5. Is there any money left over, if so where is it? There must be a full accounting for all monies spent

  • james macgoo lakeside
    March 15, 2016 - 12:28

    Upon reading the complete document, I believe it serves as an excellent guide to determining how the government and the borrower fulfilled their obligation to each other and the people of PEI. For example, the government would only disburse funds based on invoiced costs. Did this occur? The lender - government could at any time it deemed necessary protect the loan by obtaining advice of lawyers, attorneys, and professionals as it deemed necessary. How often did this occur? There was no specific statement concerning if the loan would be subject to an independent audit - even by PEI Auditor General. Why not, was it implied elsewhere? These questions may already have been answered, but many more remain to be answered. I believe this agreement should be used to understand if and how people involved did or did not perform their agreed on and legal responsibilities to the people of PEI - taxpayers. Consequences determined after the examination.

  • Fed up
    March 15, 2016 - 12:24

    What's listed here is far from $950,000 ....and none of it can be understood. It should be clear enough yo know exactly where the money went. Hashing out details seems to be "a bit" expensive - to say the least!

  • Signed dec. 14 2011?
    March 15, 2016 - 10:37

    ... And, a backdated schedule to the middle of September 2011. And, it was called off weeks later at the end of January 2012, directly after a trip to the UK to launch the project. /// Wade needs to step down. This is too much work for the complainants and the public. /// This back-dated budget sheet is irrelevant papering. It is fundamental reality that the province could not participate in any financial way with any alleged Aboriginal legal loophole to the Criminal Code of Canada anti-e-gaming provisions. And, any loophole would have to directly involve the federal government who of course were not asked to the government approval table. Reserves are federal. No? They have tax exceptions. Is that a legal opinion? Or, is it reasonably informed lay knowledge? The only people would could benefit financially were the Mi'kmaq Confederacy and the computer server company and their investors. Those names are public information. They aren't releasing them.

  • Fed up
    March 15, 2016 - 10:33

    Finalizing things...$50,000 and $75,000?!?!? That could mean anything....as could every line on that report....none of them mean a thing....just a lot of money spent!

  • Bobby
    March 15, 2016 - 09:40

    My 9 year old son came home the other day to tell me there are 3 kids in his class that never bring a lunch to school. He said they told him that their mothers told them they can't afford to take lunch every day. That $950,000 could have put some food in the schools for these kids. But no, an E-Gaming program would be a bigger priority for sure.

  • martin
    March 15, 2016 - 08:10

    Please someone help me , if the $950,000 is on the Government's books as an accounts receivable. Than why did the Government disburse the funds than the MCPEI. I was under the impression that it would be a detailed listing of expenditures not a budget. Guardian might want to find out how much in legal fees did the government pay a legal firm to create this document. I am disillusioned in our Premier when he s ays we do business differently. Same old hiding just like Ghiz.

  • de udder guy
    March 15, 2016 - 08:09

    Obviously a lot of thought and planning goes into a document like that. A calculator, a pen, and perhaps two or three of Jethro Bodean to do some "goes-intas" to divide that money up. Looks like the budget for a Grade 9 economics paper.

  • Islander
    March 15, 2016 - 07:31

    This Don MacKenzie is a piece of work All of this is a glossy sugar coating of what really happened and who really got the funds. Why is this egaming committee not mentioned and what Lawyers from McInnes Cooper had their hands in this. Remember this was all done at secret meeting and only came to light after it failed. Where is the PEI Law Society in all of this. No players mentioned here uther than MacKenzie who got well paid for his part. We want to see all the names of the people involved at squandering our money. Nothing but corruption and coverup. Mr FOX had bettter be sharp on this one or him and his party will be toast. I would like to kniow what Premier wade and his colon Al Roach had to do with this, plus alot more hiding behind this. Once the true people are identified, we will know where the money went. I am surorised First Nations National nation are not raising hell over this, as Government used them to blame all this one.

  • mary
    March 15, 2016 - 06:46

    Names?????

  • BUDDY
    March 15, 2016 - 05:52

    Thanks Wade...This is as Transparent as it gets!!!...Looks like something wrote down on the back of a Cigarette pack between drinks.