AGCO publishes draft sports betting rules and regulations

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has published draft sports betting regulations for the Canadian province.

This comes after the bill that would legalise single-event sports wagering in Canada received Royal Assent.

Ontario’s sports betting rules

Yesterday, the AGCO published its first draft of regulatory standards for sport and event betting in the Canadian province of Ontario.

Operators in Canada will now be able to offer betting on individual sporting events following the passage of a bill last month. Prior to this, sports betting was only legal if a wager was placed on three or more events.

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) noted that the rules will not include restrictions on products because betting exchanges, daily fantasy sports, esports bets, and live in-game wagering are all permitted.

The draft rules for sports wagering share some similarities with Ontario’s proposed online casino rules that were published earlier this month.

Under the rules, there will be restrictions imposed on the advertising for online betting and casino products.

In addition to prohibiting advertising aimed at minors or advertising that could be misleading, operators will not be allowed to promote bonuses anywhere outside of their websites.

Furthermore, marketing for sports betting can not appear close to schools or contain figures such as real or fictional characters that could appeal to minors.

On top of this operators must have responsible gambling policies in place and provide responsible gambling training to staff. These policies must also be regularly reviewed through consultation with experts and stakeholders.

When it comes to the specific rules for sports betting, integrity rules have been introduced which would ban those who have non-public information about a sporting event from placing bets.

Sports betting operators must also report suspicious betting activity to an independent integrity monitoring provider, which would then be required to notify the AGCO.

Bets may only occur on events where the majority of participants are at least 18 years old and where the results can be determined “by a reliable and independent process.”

On top of this, bets on multiple events must be clearly identified as parlay bets and the rules state that betting products should “help to prevent extended, continuous and impulsive play”, however, the draft rules do not go into more detail on this.

All bets and payouts must be expressed in Canadian currency. The draft rules will be out for consultation and stakeholders will be able to submit opinions on the rules until 18 August.

Sports betting in Canada

In June, Bill C-128, also known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, seeks to repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of Canada’s Criminal Code to permit single-event sports betting, received Royal Assent.

Now that the bill is an official act, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must set an effective date for the Canada sports betting amendment to come into effect.

Bill C-218 will now repeal this section of the Criminal Code to permit legal wagering on individual sporting events. 

During a hearing with the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce, Canadian Gaming Association President and CEO Paul Burns suggested that sports betting could launch by Labor Day.

Some provincial lottery sites could launch the activity by simply adding it to their existing offerings as soon as a date is set. However, some provinces, like Ontario, could take longer to launch.

Ontario, which is the fifth-largest region in the US or Canada, hopes to launch a “competitive and regulated market” by the end of the year.

David Phillips, COO at the AGCO  has said sports betting in the region could be live “by the end of 2021.”