AGCO Releases New Standards For Ontario Sports Betting

Written By Robyn McNeil on July 31, 2021 - Last Updated on June 30, 2022
Soccer, baseball, football, basketball, and hockey players in a group shot wearing wearing red

Ontario residents may soon be betting on everything from daily fantasy sports and esports to live in-game wagers and novelty events. 

Earlier this week, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released their discussion paper and draft standards for online sports betting in Ontario. The regulator is asking for input on the draft from stakeholders and other interested parties.

Thoughts on the proposed standards are being accepted via AGCO’s iGaming engagement portal until Aug. 18.

The regulations, which take effect when the new digital gambling market launches, give ample leeway with the style of bets. But, while the framework avoids listing specific types of approved wagers, all must meet specified criteria. 

As long a bet meets the standards set out, it’s fair game. The criteria in question include measures including having integrity safeguards in place and oversight of a governing body.  

But, according to AGCO’s blog, the first intention of the sports betting standards is to minimize the risk of a compromised market. 

“The main objective of the proposed sport and event betting standards is to minimize the potential risk of betting markets being compromised through activities such as insider betting or game manipulation.”

Weaving a regulatory tapestry

Once they are finalized, the sports betting standards will be woven into broader rules for internet gaming, integrating the regulatory framework. 

That interwoven structure means those standards will apply to sports and event betting too. The new draft drives this home by highlighting sports betting standards within the broader regulatory foundations.

AGCO’s sports betting criteria also disallows bets found to be “reasonably objectionable,” involve animal cruelty, or are otherwise illegal. 

The draft goes on to define “reasonably objectionable” as: 

“Bets on events which are unethical, allow entertainment to be derived from human suffering or death, or involve non-consensual violence or injury.” 

It would be hard to be mad about that. Especially since, outside of these mainly common-sense rules, Ontario’s sports fans will have many betting options.

To whom it may concern

The combined internet gambling and sports betting rules will apply to Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s (OLG) online offerings when finalized. Additionally, iGaming Ontario, which oversees private operators, and those operators themselves (and some gaming-related suppliers) must also comply.

Participants in the revamped sector will be responsible for ensuring sports bettors are “clearly informed.” For example, identifying parlays, being transparent about odds and payouts, and expressing all bets and payouts in Canadian dollars.

Operators must also prevent “anyone with sufficient authority” from betting on games supervised by their sports governing body. This includes athletes, coaches, managers, owners, and anyone who could “influence the outcome of an event.”

The rules also apply to individuals with insider information about an event or the owners of a governing body.

To achieve this, operators employ “controls” to uncover suspicious betting activity. If found, they must report the activity to an independent integrity monitor. 

“If an integrity monitoring provider finds that previously reported unusual betting activity rises to the level of suspicious activity, they shall immediately notify all other integrity monitoring providers, their member sports betting operators, the appropriate sport’s/event’s governing authority, and any other organizations or individuals identified by the Registrar,” the draft states.

Land-based sports bets?

In the discussion paper accompanying the draft standards, AGCO acknowledges that land-based operators are looking to share in the wealth. 

“The AGCO understands that land-based operators are also interested in sport and event betting. As the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) will continue to conduct and manage land-based gaming, including lottery and casino-style sport and event betting, the OLG will work with land-based operators to bring these products to market.”

So, it’s likely to be retail options for Ontario bettors will see retail options before too long. But, whether that happens via casinos, the provincial lottery or both is still unknown.

Independent Testing Labs go online

On Thursday, AGCO also announced four Independent Testing Laboratories (ITLs) are registered and ready to roll. 

AGCO requires ITLs to test and certify key components of iGaming systems, like games and random number generators. Operators can only deploy products in Ontario’s regulated market once they’ve been certified by a registered ITL. But, the certification must not be issued until the Operator or Gaming-Related Supplier is registered with the AGCO.

ITLs approved so far include BMM North America, eCOGRA, Gaming Associates Europe and Gaming Laboratories International. Additional labs may yet join the fray. You can check AGCO’s iGaming webpage for an up-to-date list.

Photo by
Robyn McNeil Avatar
Written by
Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax in an empty nest with a mischievous cat and a penchant for good stories, strong tea, cheeseburgers, yoga, graveyards, hammocks, gardening, games, herb, and hoppy beer.

View all posts by Robyn McNeil
Privacy Policy