AGCO: Illegal Ontario Casinos, Sportsbooks Must Leave By Oct. 31

Written By Robyn McNeil on October 5, 2022
AGCO Targets Unregulated Ontario Casinos And Sportsbooks With New Rule_Black welcome mat with yellow lettering. A red X crosses the word out

Ontario’s gambling regulator is putting its foot down.

On Tuesday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario released a new standard aimed at Ontario’s unregulated operators. Tuesday’s announcement fell on the six-month anniversary of the Ontario online casinos and sports betting market expansion.

The new standard, developed with industry consultation, takes effect on Oct. 31. For some operators and suppliers, the spooky season just got a lot spookier.

Ontario closing the door on “grey” market gambling operators

According to AGCO, the proposed changes support efforts to create a “safer, competitive and well-regulated” Ontario online gaming market.

“A key objective of the AGCO has been to move igaming operators and gaming-related suppliers into Ontario’s regulated market as quickly and as seamlessly as possible,” explained the regulator in a bulletin.

To that end, AGCO offered existing operators a process and a “reasonable amount of time” to transition without disrupting customers.

With this announcement, however, the leniency period is nearly over.

“Operators and gaming-related suppliers in the unregulated market were informed that if applications were not submitted by market launch and the company continued operations in Ontario’s unregulated market, they would risk not having their application approved.”

Come Halloween, unregulated operators and suppliers currently active in Ontario must shutter to avoid jeopardizing their registration eligibility. The new rule extends to those with “agreements and arrangements” with companies in Ontario’s unregulated, “grey” space.

Tweaks in store for Ontario online casino live dealer games too

In addition to reigning in the unregulated market, AGCO is tweaking standards around “live dealer” games. Live dealer games allow players to connect to real-life dealers or presenters through an online gaming site. Since the market launch, AGCO noticed an uptick in the game style’s popularity.

The changes aim to ensure the integrity of live dealer games by mitigating consumer risks. Specifically, the regulations deal with physical gaming equipment, dealers, and presenters.

Most of these new changes also come into force at the end of the month.

The sole exception is an update to standard 4.08, which requires approval of all live dealer gaming equipment with electronic components by the Registrar or certification by an approved ITL. Approved ITLs are independent testing laboratories registered to serve Ontario’s internet gaming market.

Operators and suppliers have until April 4, 2023, to certify all live dealer equipment per regulations. AGCO will release more information on this requirement in the coming weeks

Laying down the law

With the new rules, AGCO has set the stage for future enforcement actions.

However, it’s unclear how this new line in the sand will deter operators and suppliers without the intention of going legit. Particularly those based offshore.

“As with any instance of non-compliance, the AGCO will take appropriate regulatory action against any registrant that does not meet this Standard (once it comes into force). For those registered operators that have yet to transition from the unregulated market to the regulated market once the Standard comes into force, the registrant will be required to end its unregulated operations within Ontario pending the registrant’s entry into the regulated market.”

For now, how AGCO intends to handle non-compliance is unknown.

Photo by PlayCanada
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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.

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