Located in Central Canada, Ontario is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of this large country. It is the most populous province, with Ottawa as the capital city. Ontario has professional sports teams in numerous popular sports activities, such as Canadian football, baseball, basketball, soccer, ice hockey, rugby league, rugby union, and lacrosse.
April 4, 2022, was a groundbreaking moment for the local iGaming sector, as the market officially started operating. Multiple top-notch online casino operators were welcomed to the market, including the giants such as 888 Casino, LeoVegas, and a couple of more. Casinos and racetracks are commercially operated, single-event wagers are permitted as well, while charities and non-profit organizations offer charitable gaming.
When it comes to taxes, there’s a 20% gross gaming revenue on casino gaming, while tax for racetracks tax is 0.5% of the total amount bet on each race. Though not permitted to do so, some offshore operators still accept punters from this province in Canada.
It’s interesting to stress that this market has multiple regulatory institutions, each in charge of a different sector. These are the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), iGaming Ontario (iGO), Ontario Charitable Gaming Association (OGCA), Ontario Racing Commission (ORC), and Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA).
To start with, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is an Ontario provincial regulatory agency reporting to the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG). It is a corporation established under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act, 2019.
Then, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) holds an exclusive license over lottery products and runs all Tribal gaming establishments. Its goal is to provide gaming entertainment in an efficient and socially responsible manner that maximizes economic benefits for the people of Ontario, related economic sectors, and host communities.
There’s also iGaming Ontario (iGO), formed in July 2021 as a subsidiary of the AGCO. This institution worked in cooperation with the AGCO and the Government of Ontario to bring the world's best online gambling experiences in an environment where responsibility is appreciated. Gaming operators that have successfully registered with the AGCO and have executed an operating agreement with iGO are permitted to offer their games to players from this province.
Founded in 1997, the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association (OGCA) is a not-for-profit organization that gathers approximately 2,000 local charities and non-profit institutions. It advocates on its behalf for new products, technology, and regulatory change in the charitable gaming industry.
Originally established in 1950 under the Racing Commission Act, the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC) is a Crown agency of the Ontario Government responsible for regulating the horse racing industry in this province. The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) is a special operating agency within Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada that regulates and supervises pari-mutuel betting in Canada on horse races. It aims to ensure that pari-mutuel betting is conducted in a way that is fair to the public.
Finally, it is important to once again clarify the difference between the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and iGaming Ontario. OLGC conducts and manages OLG.ca as an Ontario government agency. On the other hand, iGO is in charge of managing the private gaming operators regulated by AGCO.
Requirements for Potential Licensees
Each operator interested in entering Ontario's regulated market must take steps with both iGO and the AGCO before being allowed to provide their products and services to local clientele.
When it comes to AGCO, each operator must ensure games and critical gaming systems are certified by an Independent Testing Laboratory (ITL), and then register with AGCO. Furthermore, it has to implement control activities to comply with AGCO Registrar's Standards for internet gaming and participate in Internet Gaming Notification Matrix Training.
After that, the company has to set up regulatory reporting in iAGCO, and then set up and configure access to AGCO’s Secure Data and Information Communication Channels. Finally, the operator needs to provide technology compliance confirmation to AGCO.
As for iGO, interested party needs to execute a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) and a Letter of Agreement with iGO. Then, the company is supposed to set up and configure access to iGO's Secure Data and Information Communication Channels and also complete iGO's Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Information Submissions.
After that, the operator needs to complete iGO's Financial Information Submissions and also take part in Operator Systems & Data Readiness Cycle with iGaming Ontario. As a final step, the company has to execute the Operating Agreement with iGO.
It’s important to note that multiple steps can be completed at the same time. The order of steps may vary based on each company’s unique circumstances.
In July 2021, AGCO came up with a set of technical requirements…
… to ensure a higher level of player protection. A ban on auto-play for slots and a minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds were suggested among others. Also, the requirements included were regulations and advertising restrictions aimed at safeguarding at-risk populations such as a ban on bonus offers anywhere except the operators’ website and voluntary deposit limits.
Responsible Gambling and Player Protection
One of the main missions of iGO is to enable players to participate in gambling activities without experiencing any harm on a personal level or causing any harm to others. For that reason, the institution strives to maintain the highest standards of player protection, while offering continuous education to both operators and players.
One of the particularly sensitive fields…
…is an advertising and promotional marketing, which is why strict guidelines must be followed. Operators should share the anonymized player data with iGO to that they could spot any problematic behavior patterns on time and eliminate them until the issue escalates.
It goes without saying that Candian punters should only visit only legal and regulated online gambling platforms. Therefore, when exploring a site, don’t forget to look for the iGaming Ontario logo, as it’s a visible confirmation that the operator is certified on behalf of a local authority.
In case a player feels like assistance is needed…
…he/she can contact iGO via e-mail or phone. Aside from implementing time and money limits or taking a break from gambling, a consumer can also seek help from some the institutions, such as Connex Ontario or the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).
Connex Ontario wants to make sure Ontarian players are connected to mental health and addiction support where, when, and how they need it. This organization provides 24/7 access to information for mental health and addictions services and promotes the importance of informed decision-making.
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