Ontario to launch legal igaming market on April 4

| By Robert Fletcher
The Canadian province of Ontario will open its legal igaming market on April 4, iGaming Ontario (iGO) the subsidiary of Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) that will oversee the market has announced.

This will conclude a process that dates back to April 2019, when the province’s government announced plans to end Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s monopoly on igaming, opening up the market to private operators. It then moved forward with these plans in November 2020, with legislation introduced and passed in 2021.

AGCO released its final igaming sports and event betting regulatory standards in September of last year, including changes to advertising standards and integrity rules.

Single-event sports betting officially launched in Canada on August 27, but is currently only offered by provincial lotteries.

The rules were integrated into AGCO’s existing Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, which was published on July 14 last year, and will now come into effect on April 4.

From this date, private gaming operators registered with the AGCO and have in place an operating agreement with iGO can begin offering their games to players in Ontario.

“Consumers can be assured that companies who successfully enter the new Ontario market will have met rigorous standards of game and operator integrity, fairness, player protections and social responsibility, allowing all players to play with confidence,” IGO executive director Martha Otton said.

This will see measures to prevent underage gambling, ensure compliance with all applicable laws, and responsible gambling safeguards introduced from April 4.

“Today, most internet gaming by Ontarians takes place on websites not conducted and managed by the province,” Otton added. “Our new internet gaming market will give consumers enhanced entertainment choice, support the growth of a new, legal market and generate revenue that can help fund programs and services that benefit all of us.”

Penn National Gaming president and chief executive Jay Snowden, together with John Levy, chief executive of its subsidiary theScore, welcomed the news.

Last week, Penn National Gaming and theScore Bet venture became the first prospective private market operator in Ontario to secure the Responsible Gambling Check iGaming Accreditation from the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) ahead of the market opening.

“Launching theScore Bet in Ontario will mark an exciting expansion of our online gaming business into a major new market where we already have an established mobile sports media product in theScore app and a wide base of loyal users,” Snowden said.

“Today’s news is very exciting, and I would like to recognize and congratulate the government of Ontario and the AGCO and iGaming Ontario for their dedication to creating a modern open and regulated sports betting and igaming market.”

Levy added: “The AGCO and iGaming Ontario have been thoughtful and collaborative in their approach to creating and managing this new industry, and the result is a soon-to-be-launched framework that will bring widespread benefits to Ontarians and establish Ontario as one of the biggest and most important regulated gaming markets in North America.”

He said theScore Bet “could not be more excited” to bring its sports betting and igaming offering to customers in its home province.

In December, affiliate Bonusfinder said the Canadian province of Ontario could become the most attractive online gambling market in all of North America when it launches. It cited factors such as the size of the population – which will be the second largest market on the continent after New York – the number of brands competing, and the potential size of bonuses on offer to consumers.

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