TORONTO — Sports betting in Ontario will see some definitive changes by month's end.
On Tuesday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced it has set Oct. 31 as the deadline for illegal sports-betting platforms to become legal in the province. The agency added it will take action against operators that don't comply but didn't provide specific details regarding what those penalties might be.
Ontario's fledgling legal sports-betting industry opened fully April 4. But operators that had their applications into the AGCO before then received a grace period to continue doing business here while their submissions were being considered.
In its statement, the AGCO also stipulated:
- Registrants are expected to know, understand, and comply with all applicable regulatory requirements, including this standard upon its effective date (Oct. 31).
- Registered operators that have yet to transition from the unregulated market to the regulated market once the Standard comes into force, the registrant will be required to end its unregulated operations within Ontario pending the registrant’s entry into the regulated market.
- The AGCO will continue to work closely with registered operators and gaming-related suppliers to help them understand their compliance obligations.
It also outlined stipulations for igaming applicants. They include:
- Applicants must ensure they comply with this Standard once it comes into force. This will require that applicants end their unregulated operations within Ontario if they have not yet acquired their AGCO registration by the time the Standard comes into force.
- Applicants that are non-compliant with this Standard, once it comes into force, risk having their application for registration refused.
- The AGCO is providing a reasonable notice period to support further transitioning to the regulated market, including making their customers/players aware of potential blackout periods due to pending registration.
It's been an uphill trek for the province since the market fully opened. The much-anticipated iGaming Ontario (iGO) first public report for the first full quarter of market operations (ending June 30) wasn't released until Aug. 30.
For many, the wait was somewhat anti-climatic. The report stated Ontario online gambling platforms took in $4.076 billion in total wagers over the first three months, excluding promotional wagers (bonuses). That produced a total revenue of $162 million from 492,000 active-player accounts, with 18 operators and 31 igaming websites active during that time.
But the numbers don't include figures from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp's online operations, which are reportedly at record levels. And there was the matter of many grey-market operators being able to do business here while working to gain government approval.
Ontario's first-quarter revenue converted to roughly US$125 million. That was much lower than second-quarter reports in comparable American gaming jurisdictions like New Jersey (US$557 million), Pennsylvania ($521 million) and Michigan ($466 million), which all have both online sports betting and online casinos.
And that was considering Ontario having a bigger population (roughly 15 million people) than Pennsylvania (13 million residents), Michigan (10 million) and New Jersey (nine million).
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 4, 2022.
The Canadian Press