The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), following a number of industry-wide consultations, have finalized a number of really important updates for the Registrar's Standards for Internet Gaming. These changes will ultimately hopefully support the overall aim of developing a well-regulated, safer, and competitive iGaming market in the province. We shall now take a closer look at some of the major updates, so please read on.
New Standard Ends the Transition Period for Unregulated Operators and Gaming-Related Suppliers
A main aim of the AGCO has been to move Ontario online casinos and gaming-related suppliers into the province's regulated market as fast and easily as they can. To support such an aim, the AGCO came up with a process that would enable those existing operators and suppliers currently in the unregulated market to enter the regulated market without causing any significant interruption to their customers in Ontario.
The AGCO had been accepting registration applications since September of last year in preparation for the market launch that happened on the 4th of April this year. Back then, gaming-related suppliers and operators were told that if their applications were not submitted by the market launch and they carried on operating in an unregulated market, they would run the risk of having their application denied.
"In meeting such requirements, operators will be accountable to the high standards that have been set out the iGaming regulatory framework of Ontario."
In order for an operator to operate legally in Ontario from the 4th of April onwards, operators need to meet two main requirements. Firstly, they have to secure registration from the AGCO, and secondly, they need to have an Operating Agreement with iGaming Ontario. In meeting such requirements, operators will be accountable to the high standards that have been set out the iGaming regulatory framework of Ontario.
Since the market launch was back on April 4th, it is fair to say that the AGCO has given operators a reasonable amount of time to sign up for the regulated market in a seamless and business-like fashion. Quite a large number of iGaming suppliers and operators have registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, entered an agreement with iGaming Ontario, and are now fully complying with the regulatory framework of the province.
The new standard dictates that gaming-related suppliers and operators that are still active in Ontario's unregulated market (or have some arrangements and agreements with those in the unregulated market), must swiftly end such activities if they do not want to jeopardize their eligibility to join the regulated market.
In order to give gaming related suppliers and operators enough time to comply with their new standard, the AGCO has decided that Standard 1.22 will come into action from the 31st of October 2022.
The relevance to registered gaming-related suppliers and iGaming operators:
- Registrants are fully expected to understand and comply with all of the applicable regulatory requirements as soon as it comes into effect on the 31st of October
- If there are any instances of non-compliance, then the AGCO will have no choice but to take the appropriate action against the registrant that is not meeting this standard
- Those registered operators that have not yet transitioned to the regulated market from the unregulated one when the Standard comes into effect will need to end their unregulated operations in Ontario pending their entry into the regulated market
- The AGCO will carry on working closely with registered gaming-related suppliers and operators to ensure that they fully understand the compliance obligations
Amended Standards for Live Games
The AGCO also still closely monitors Ontario's Internet gambling market and since this market was launched back in April, the AGCO noticed how popular Live Dealer games are becoming, which are games that are played with real-life dealers and players - the action is streamed to you via a studio that has been set up to look like a land-based casino, and you have the option of speaking to the dealers and your fellow players via a live chat.
The AGCO has decided that it was necessary to amend the Registrar's Standards in order to address the possible risks that are related to using physical gaming equipment, including the likes of playing cards and roulette wheels, alongside the risks that are related to using live presenters.
Once again, these live dealer game amendments will come into effect on the 31st of October, but there is an exception to the update of Standard 4.08 - this will come into affect on the 4th of April, 2023. The reason for this delay is so that gaming-related suppliers and operators will have enough time to get all of their equipment certified. Any gaming-related suppliers and operators that offer Live Dealer games will need to abide by these amendments.