iGaming Ontario is one step closer to achieving its long-standing goal of improving player protection with a centralized self-exclusion program.
On Tuesday, the province’s online gambling regulator announced that it will enter the request for proposal phase in early 2024. The news marks a significant step forward in the organization’s objective to create a streamlined and ubiquitous self-exclusion solution.
The plan, which has been in motion for about eight months now, resurfaced at the most recent Canadian Gaming Summit in June. There, iGO executive director Martha Otton addressed the state of Ontario’s burgeoning market and the subsequent need for enhanced player safety measures.
“In addition to that requirement for operators to spend a certain percentage of their gross gaming revenue on responsible gambling messaging and education, we are working towards a centralized self-exclusion, which will be the first of its kind in the province,” Otton said. “It will allow players to self-exclude on all products across the province. But there’s more work, certainly, that needs to be done.”
According to iGO, players will soon be able to self-exclude from all 70-plus regulated Ontario operators in a single registration process. Notably, this one-stop solution also includes Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation‘s online gambling site.
iGo sets six principles to guide new centralized system
With the application process on the verge of opening, iGaming Ontario is setting a few ground rules first.
In addition to developing and implementing a universal system that supports players’ self-exclusion registration, renewal, and reinstatement, the winning bidder must also follow six founding principles. Specifically, the new program needs to be:
- Player Focused – an intuitive overall experience with minimal barriers and challenges, and seamless access to support services.
- Supportive – delivered in an approachable, non-judgemental way that also encourages players to feel confident in their decision to register.
- Transparent – clearly defined expectations and consequences for both players and operators; information is expansive and visible.
- Secure – ensuring player information is protected and only shared with relevant employees to aid in administering the program.
- Robust – support player goals with a comprehensive set of procedures and processes backed by secure, responsive, and accessible technology.
- Viable – a practical system that is seamless for operators to manage and implement.
Per its press release, the successful bidder will work alongside iGaming Ontario on a multi-year program to “develop best-in-class user experiences by leveraging modern, innovative technology.”
Increase in problem gambling calls during first year of Ontario market
Earlier this year, Connex Ontario reported a noticeable increase in calls related to problems with online gambling.
Anne Counter, the director of system navigation and information services for Connex Ontario told PlayCanada that the organization has seen an increase in contacts over the last few years. In particular, Connex has experienced an uptick in calls of approximately 40% over the previous two fiscal years.
What’s more, it has received over 2,000 calls about problem gambling activities since Sept. 1, 2022. Some of the calls were self-reported. However, the majority came from concerned family members, friends, or co-workers.
It was around the time of these findings when murmurs of a potential province-wide self-exclusion program came to light.
Where to find help in Ontario
With Connex Ontario, problem gamblers can expect confidential help available on multiple platforms 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You can call toll-free (1-866-531-2600). You can also text (247247). There are also chat and email options available. Connex Ontario is not a counselling service. However, it does connect you to appropriate treatment options in your nearby community.
If you or anyone you know is dealing with a gambling problem and needs help, PlayCanada also has a list of responsible gambling in Ontario resources.
Help, support and education can also be found at:
Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare – Centre for Problem Gambling and Digital Dependency
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.
Responsible Gambling Council
Phone: +1 (416) 499-9800