Autoplay Slots Out As Ontario’s Betting Market Takes Shape

Posted By Robyn McNeil on July 23, 2021 - Last Updated on July 22, 2021

With the release of finalized internet gaming standards, Ontario’s new regulated gaming market is coming into focus.

The registrar’s standards, published last week, are “key” to regulating the new provincial online gambling market launching later this year. Rules include a minimum gambling age (19, 18 for lotto), responsible gambling requirements, and prompt handling of player complaints.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) says sharing the registrar’s standards now is for the industry’s benefit.

“The AGCO is releasing the standards before they come into force to allow igaming operators and gaming-related suppliers to prepare in advance of the launch of their igaming products in the regulated market,” the release said.

The new standards apply to Ontario Lottery and Gaming’s (OLG) online offerings and private operators regulated by iGaming Ontario. iGaming Ontario is the AGCO subsidiary that manages private operators in the sector. A subset of the new rules will also apply to gaming-related suppliers.

The rules matter

Some regulations apply only to specific game styles, like a ban on autoplay features for online slots. 

​​“A player should commit to each game individually, releasing and then depressing the ‘start button’ or taking equivalent action,” the rules state.

Meanwhile, spin speed must be at least 2.5 seconds. Other features banned include split or multi-screen play, celebrating losses as wins or equating skill or speed with better chances.

Further regulations will require games to show players’ net position in Canadian dollars, while platforms must allow players to cap deposits. Marketing must not tempt minors with appealing characters or presence in school communities. 

Additionally, ads must avoid exploiting problem gamblers or those at risk and promoting gaming as virtuous. Operators should instead limit advertising to high-risk players and provide information on potential gambling harms and remedies like self-exclusion.

Single-event sports betting on the horizon

Shortly after the recent passing of Bill C-218, the province signalled its intention to include single-event betting in Ontario’s new market. So, the recent legalization of single-game betting means operators in Ontario can legally offer wagers similar to the United States. 

However, there are hoops to jump through for interested companies. They’ll need to meet AGCO standards, Gaming Control Act regulations, and commercial obligations to iGaming Ontario.

Operators also have to adhere to standards still unknown, specific to sports betting. Details of those regulations will drop this summer ahead of the market launch in late 2021

Ontario is getting closer to launching a unique Canadian gambling market despite remaining work―and recognized operators are paying attention. Properties like DraftKings, PointsBet, theScore Bet, and more have expressed interest in grabbing a new market share. 

But how that plays out is still up in the air. 

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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax with an awesome teen, 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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