Ontario government establishes new online gambling division

The Ontario government has launched a new igaming organisation that will be responsible for conducting and managing new online gambling offerings in the Canadian province.

This comes after a bill that would bring single-event sports betting to Canada received Royal Assent last week.

Ontario’s new igaming division

The new division, iGaming Ontario, will operate as a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and be responsible for making sure new measures are implemented to protect Ontario’s consumers from gambling-related harms.

The provinces’ government first announced plans for a dedicated subsidiary for online gambling last year and the launch of iGaming Ontario comes as the region expects to launch its new online gambling market in December.

According to iGaming Ontario’s site, the new subsidiary will be “Governed by an interim Board of Directors, iGaming Ontario will enter into commercial agreements with operators who meet rigorous standards of game and operator integrity, fairness, player protection, and social responsibility, allowing all players to play with confidence.”

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy said: “Ontario’s new legal igaming market will create new opportunities for Ontario businesses and a better, safer gaming experience for players.

“A competitive, regulated online gaming market will provide a safer alternative to the unregulated, grey market websites that currently exist – and which may lack proper consumer protections or responsible gaming measures.

“A new legal market would also generate revenue for the province to invest in supporting jobs and businesses, supporting people and their families, and improving and strengthening critical public services for a post-COVID world.”

The AGCO’s role and responsibilities as a regulator will remain the same and be kept separate from iGaming Ontario’s role in regulating the online gambling space.

On top of this, the AGCO will continue to be responsible for regulatory oversight for all gambling activities in Ontario including igaming operators and suppliers as well as over the new subsidiary.

The AGCO will continue to conduct and manage its own online gaming offering via OLG.ca.

Ontario’s government and Birgitte Sand, who will lead the project, will continue to hold meetings with the online gambling industry, First Nations communities, other stakeholders, and social responsibility groups to finalise rules for the market.

Single-event sports betting bill gets Royal Assent

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

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.

Under Canada’s Criminal Code, sports wagering is only legal when a wager is placed on three or more games at a time, meaning that betting on single events is illegal.

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

Attorney General Doug Downey said: “Following Parliament’s historic vote to lift the prohibition on single-event sport wagering last month, the establishment of iGaming Ontario is another pivotal milestone in our work to ensure people have access to a safe and regulated online gaming market by the end of the year.

“We are determined to work with industry, responsible gaming advocates and regulatory partners to ensure Ontario is a world leader in building a safe online gaming environment that meets consumer expectations.”