Ontario Officials Seek Feedback on Single-Game Sports Betting Draft Regulations

Posted on: August 2, 2021, 01:55h. 

Last updated on: August 2, 2021, 10:25h.

The first release of single-game sports betting regulations from Ontario has happened. It shows some very good news for operators interested in offering mobile apps and sportsbooks in Canada’s most populous province.

Toronto skyline
The CN Tower dominates the skyline of downtown Toronto, the largest city in Ontario. Last week, provincial officials released draft guidelines for single-game sports betting, which recently became legal across Canada. (Image: AttractionsOntario.ca)

Last week, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released a draft document that included regulatory language pertaining to single-game sports betting.  A copy of the document can be found here.

In a statement issued after the release of the draft, the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) noted that a wide array of products will be allowed in Ontario. In addition, those who end up operating there will not be subject to a provision that nearly all professional sports leagues have called for, as legal sports betting expands across the US and Canada.

The good news is that the AGCO will not be restricting products: betting exchanges, (daily fantasy), eSports, and live in-game wagering will all be permitted,” the CGA’s statement read. “Also, any operators who want to offer sports betting will not be required to use official league data.”

The association said it is working with its members on a collective response to the regulations. Other interested parties and stakeholders can submit comments as well, through the AGCO engagement portal. The commission will accept feedback through Aug. 18.

Once finalized, Ontario gaming officials will incorporate the sports betting regulations into its standards on internet gaming. ACGO published those on July 14.

“The AGCO’s framework aims to achieve the Government of Ontario’s objectives of providing consumer choice, ensuring consumer protection, supporting the growth of the legal market, generating provincial revenues, and reducing red tape,” the commission said in a statement.

What are Eligible Sports Betting Events in Ontario?

The draft regulations do not state a list of official sports that can be offered for wagering. Instead, it currently offers 11 guidelines that all sports and events must meet in order to be considered.

One provision states that to qualify, a “majority” of the participants in an event must be age 18 or older. That would seemingly open the door for Ontario operators to offer US college sports. Another provision says the game or event must have “integrity safeguards” to reduce the threat of match-fixing or similar behaviors.

There’s also a guideline that says the bet cannot be placed on an event that is “reasonably objectionable,” which AGCO further described and cited as examples of that to include events that intend to show “human suffering or death” as a form of entertainment.

The current version of the guidelines also opens the door for novelty bets.

When Will the Law Take Effect in Canada?

Single-game sports betting became legal in Canada in late June thanks to Parliament’s passage of Bill C-218.

After its passage in the Senate on June 22, the bill became law when it received the Royal Assent a week later. The Royal Assent is similar to a US president or state governor signing a bill into law. But it is typically more of a formality. However, just as most new laws in the US don’t take effect immediately upon passage, in Canada a new law doesn’t become effective until it comes into force.

For C-218, the bill’s language states that the governor general will determine the coming into force date. The governor general serves as the agent of Queen Elizabeth II. The British monarch still serves as the official head of state for Canada, one of the 15 countries besides the United Kingdom that recognize her in such a fashion.

Part of the delay in setting an enactment date is that the appointed position had been vacant until last week. On July 26, Mary Simon was installed as the country’s 30th governor general in Canadian history.