While the first year of Ontario’s private online gaming market was the subject of praise last week at a Toronto event, top gaming officials did outline some of their priorities for improving the model going forward.
The top priority, said Martha Otton, executive director of iGaming Ontario, which manages the private operators, is improving responsible gambling efforts, including self-exclusion tools to include all of the province’s more than 40 operators.
“I think we all have a responsibility here to ensure that the right player protections are in place, that this entertainment comes with some risks that we need to ensure that we're addressing,” Otton said.
“We need to move towards a common self-exclusion registry, and we'll be working on that in the coming months,” she continued.
In addition, Otton said that iGaming Ontario can use data from operators to create new policy, when it comes to responsible gambling.
“We also get a lot of data from the operators and I think this gives us a very good opportunity to use that data to do what everyone says they want to do, evidence-based policy and research that can kind of advance a model that I believe that can be a model for the globe, that this expertise can be exported.”
The ability to extract data and use technology to identify and correct problem gambling behavior was also highlighted by Brent McCurdy, deputy chief operating officer of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which regulates gaming in the province.
“One of our big innovations in the standards was to require that kind of tracking and maybe understand their individual risk profile and whether or not they're doing things that flag what they may be experiencing, and then actually intervening to try to get that person to a better trajectory early,” McCurdy said.
“We don't have a full picture yet, we’re sinking a lot of time into that and will be going forward as well,” he added.
“We launched with what the IT guys call, charitably, minimum viable product. A lot of that means manual product, so we are working toward a number of systems,” Otton said, identifying anti-money laundering and contract management as systems that the province’s “conduct and manage” entity is looking to automate.
In addition, Otton said that iGaming Ontario wants to support innovation in the space in one of the few North American markets that supports both sports betting and online casino gaming.
“We want to be a site where you try it first in Ontario, of course assuming it’s all in compliance with the framework that’s here,” she said. “One of the things I hear that makes me proud is just how collaborative the province has been.”
“We want to continue that collaboration,” she added. “We have an opportunity here to make this a really great jurisdiction for iGaming, but also to be very innovative.”