Ontario Looking For Online Gambling Testing Lab & Releases Draft Regulations

Written By Robyn McNeil on April 28, 2021 - Last Updated on July 1, 2022
Ontario online gambling regulations

The province is getting ready to move forward with online casinos in Ontario in earnest.

Independent Testing Labs (ITLs) intending to service Ontario’s new iGaming market are now invited to register as Game-Related Suppliers with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

Under AGCO’s new model for a competitive online gambling market, registered ITLs will provide services in Ontario’s emerging iGaming sector. Registering ahead of legalization will allow those testing providers to be ready to serve potential operators and suppliers as they prepare to launch Ontario online gambling.

Registered ITLs will test and certify the casino games made available to Ontario players meet the province’s regulatory standards. Testing will include (but not be limited to) confirmation that games, remote gaming systems, and random number generators comply with Provincial iGaming regulations. 

Interested ITLs can start the application process via iAGCO, AGCO’s online service delivery portal. Applications for other operators and suppliers (not operating as ITLs) will launch later in 2021.

AGCO releases draft of Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming

In preparation for the launch of the new iGaming sector, AGCO also released a draft version of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, an updated set of standards aimed at the digital gaming industry.

Interested parties can share feedback on the draft, but responses must be submitted to AGCO’s iGaming Engagement Portal by April 30. Future opportunities to have your say on eligibility requirements, regulatory compliance, and service experience will open in the coming months. Those looking to contribute input now (or in the future) should register for the portal. 

You can also sign-up for updates on the future of iGaming in Ontario on the AGCO website.

Ontario releases plans for new online gambling model

On March 3, the Provincial Government released a discussion paper on the future of iGaming in Ontario. 

The paper outlined the main requirements to establish and conduct an expanded iGaming market that prioritizes consumer choice and protection. And the potential for market growth with little red tape. 

Key components of the initiative include approaches to revenue sharing, details of the commercial agreement, and types of gaming. The paper also considers the relationship between online and land-based gaming.

Opportunities for feedback, which the Province considers critical as they move forward, closed on April 16. Ontario tapped Birgitte Sand, Director General of the Danish Gambling Authority and Ministry of Taxation from 2012-2020, as Commercial Project Lead for iGaming, which includes directing public consultation.

AGCO names executive director

In February, AGCO announced the appointment of Martha Otton as the Executive Director of the AGCO subsidiary responsible for conducting and managing the Province’s iGaming Market.

Otton, who served as AGCO’s Chief Strategy Officer for the past nine years, stepped into the new role on February 16. Charged with developing and implementing a world-class online gaming sector, the subsidiary will provide player protection and market oversight. And, generate revenue for the Province. A complement to the regulatory role provided by AGCO proper. 

Already a tenured leader, the commission says Otton’s leadership has resulted in strategic regulatory policy, engagement, and data capabilities. And delivery of large, complex projects, like the iAGCO online registration system.

“We are fortunate to be able to leverage Martha’s strong leadership, strategic foresight, and gaming sector knowledge,” said Dave Forestell. Forestall is Vice-Chair of the AGCO and Board-lead for the new AGCO subsidiary.

What’s next for iGaming in Ontario?

In their 2020 budget, Ontario’s Government committed to regulating the existing provincial gaming market and the new iGaming framework.

As noted above, over the next several months, AGCO will undertake a series of public engagements. These engagements will examine crucial technical components of the iGaming model. This will permit AGCO to establish (in concert with the subsidiary) reasonable and streamlined requirements for the industry.

Although the Ontario government has yet to table legislation that will end Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s (OLG) monopoly on iGaming, that could happen as early as this fall. Though, if everything goes to plan, the new iGaming sector could launch before the end of the year.

However, the breadth of Ontario’s iGaming market will be radically different if Bill C-218, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Sports Betting), passes through Senate and becomes law. The bill, sponsored by Conservative Member of Parliament, Kevin Waugh, would legalize single-event sports betting (except for horse racing). 

The bill, which passed third-reading on April 22, is now in the hands of the Senate.

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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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