Ontario iGaming Regulators Release Operator Guide, Create Path for Grays

Posted on: August 23, 2021, 11:27h. 

Last updated on: August 24, 2021, 10:59h.

Operators interested in iGaming opportunities in Ontario now have some more information to help put together their applications.

Ontario sports betting
The iconic Gooderham Building, also known as Toronto’s Flatiron Building, stands out before the city’s skyline. Ontario gaming officials are also looking to stand out by unveiling their plan to attract commercial iGaming operators to its soon-to-launch regulated market. (Image: CanadianVisa.org)

Last week, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released the Internet Gaming Operator Application Guide, an online resource to guide applicants through the process of becoming a licensed provider in Canada’s most populous province. The guide is available here.

AGCO is one of two organizations that will be involved in the development and regulation of Ontario’s iGaming marketplace. The commission will serve as the regulatory body.

Meanwhile, iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of the commission, will serve as the body that enters into contracts and awards licenses to commercial operators.

The application process itself is not open yet. But, per the commission, the registration period will begin in the coming weeks. The mobile gaming apps are expected to launch, per iGamingOntario, in December.

The cost of entry into the Ontario market is an annual license fee of CAD100,000 (US$ 79,043). Per the AGCO, companies approved to offer iGaming in the province can determine if they want a one or two-year permit.

However, the commission spells out that operators will be required to make additional payments. That can also include paying “reasonable costs” for a review of the applicant before their paperwork is processed.

AGCO said in the guide its goal is to offset the cost to regulate iGaming.

“Each operator should anticipate possible additional payments to recover these costs. The specific amount per operator is yet to be determined,” the commission stated. “However, the amount could be significantly greater than the above-mentioned regulatory fee of CAD100,000 per gaming site, along with investigative charges.”

Ontario will be the biggest market in Canada for online gaming, and one of the biggest in North America. With a population of more than 14.5 million, only four US states have higher population totals.

Ontario Provides Window for Unregulated Providers

Ontario officials are also showing a willingness to work with companies that compete or have competed in the province as an unregulated provider. That includes operators and suppliers.

The goal is to protect bettors in the province while simultaneously “facilitating a business-like transaction,” moving applicants from the gray market to the regulated realm in as seamless a manner as possible.

In doing that, the commission has three requirements for any gray market applicant to meet to be considered for a license.

First, any applicant who submits an application before the official launch date must stop their unregulated enterprise’s action in Ontario before they receive a registration document from the AGCO.

In addition, applicants must also end all associations with any other company that also operates in the unregulated Ontario market.

Finally, any unregulated operator that has not applied to join the regulated market and still does business in that manner once regulated gaming is established runs the risk of being rejected if they ever seek an application. That also applies to any company that continues to associate with gray-market operators.

The AGCO will coordinate the timing of registration issuance with iGaming Ontario’s commercial contract signing,” the commission states on its site. “This includes confirmation of data exchange so that these three events coincide and the transition to the regulated iGaming scheme is as seamless as possible.”

The commission said it will strive to be “practical and pragmatic” in working with applicants, and avoid any blackout periods for operators. In addition, it also plans to work closely with law enforcement and pledges to take “strong action” against any unregulated operator still working in the province once regulated apps begin their rollout.

Commercial Sports Betting Apps Wait On-Deck

While the process is moving forward for iGaming, the AGCO Communications Team told Casino.org that the time frame for applications for commercial sports betting operators has not been finalized.

AGCO just finished collecting stakeholder feedback on draft sports betting regulations last week.

In June, Canadian lawmakers passed a law that legalized single-game – or single-event – sports betting. Earlier this month, federal authorities announced the law will officially take effect this Friday.

While commercial operators in Ontario will have to wait to apply, the Ontario Lottery is preparing to launch PROLINE+, its single-game betting app. The lottery has offered a parlay product, which has been legal in the country.

Besides single-event bets, PROLINE+ will also offer in-game betting, dynamic odds that change based on game information, and scores of new sports that will be added to the app – including tennis, boxing, golf, and mixed martial arts.