The Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission was established on April 4, 1995, as a result of the introduction of the Gaming Control Act. At that time, the Nova Scotia Gaming Control Commission assumed the administrative, licensing, and inspection responsibilities of the Nova Scotia Liquor Licence Board, and the duties of the Nova Scotia Lottery Commission and the Nova Scotia Amusements Regulation Board. This merger was finalized in an Order In Council dated July 15, 1997 and resulted in an organizational name change to the Nova Scotia Alcohol and Gaming Authority.
On April 14, 2000, the structure of gaming regulation in Nova Scotia was re-organized by disbanding the 7 member Board of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority. The adjudicative functions of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority were then assigned to the Utility and Review Board, and the licensing and compliance functions to the Minister of the Department of Environment and Labour. For that purpose, the Department of Environment and Labour created the Alcohol and Gaming Division.
The responsibilities of the Alcohol and Gaming Division include two broad mandates under the Gaming Control Act: The first is to licence and regulate gaming activity in Nova Scotia to ensure these activities are conducted with honesty and integrity; the second is to study and report on certain aspects of gaming in Nova Scotia. These mandates necessarily include a strong consumer protection focus. The areas of study set forth in the Act include public interest and reaction to various forms of gaming; social, economic, health, justice, and environmental impacts of gaming; and the study of gaming laws and activities in other jurisdictions.
The Alcohol and Gaming Division's mandate pursuant to the Theatres and Amusements Act includes film classification, licensing, and regulation. Film classification duties involve the viewing and subsequent classification of film products for use in Nova Scotia, PEI, and New Brunswick, and includes classification or a system of classification for video games in addition to or in place of classifications assigned by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Licensing duties involve the licensing and regulation of theatres, places of amusement, and events where fees are charged to the public. Licences are issued for arcades, drive-in theatres, halls, itinerant shows, carnivals, circuses, outdoor festivals, pari-mutuel machines, race tracks, theatres, and video retail outlets.
The Alcohol and Gaming Division's mandate pursuant to the Liquor Control Act is to issue licences to eligible organizations for the sale and service of liquor, and ensure that these entities comply with the requirements of the Liquor Control Act and Liquor Licensing Regulations. The general public is likely most familiar with the liquor licensing processes of the Alcohol and Gaming Division through applications for Special Occasion Licences. This type of licence permits the sale and service of liquor at events such as weddings, festivals, fund raisers and community celebrations.