Ontario’s gaming regulator is targeting an October 31 deadline for grey market online gaming operators to complete their transition into the regulated market.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released proposed revisions to the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming on Monday (August 29) for stakeholder input.
One of the proposed revisions is the oft-discussed end to the transition period that has allowed companies that were operating in Ontario prior to the April 4 launch of the province’s regulated online gaming market to continue operations while their applications to enter the regulated market were pending.
Although iGaming Ontario, which manages sports betting in the province, has yet to release any data on market performance to date, some regulated operators have grumbled that gaining a foothold in the market has been difficult as a result of the policy.
The AGCO has consistently warned operators that the transition period will not be an indefinite one and that the regulator would eventually bring an end to the free transition, teasing a fall 2022 deadline.
“The proposed standard will create an obligation for operators and suppliers to cease any direct unregulated activities in Ontario, and to end any agreements or arrangements with third parties who are carrying out activities in the unregulated market,” the AGCO said in a discussion paper on the proposed standard released Monday.
During the Canadian Gaming Summit in June, AGCO CEO Tom Mungham said that the agency was reviewing more than 200 unregulated sites to determine if registered suppliers were continuing to do business with unregulated operators, which would be prohibited following the end of the agency's deliberately “seamless, business-like” transition.
“The implementation of this proposed standard may require some applicants to shutter their gaming sites in Ontario until they have satisfied the requirements of both the AGCO and iGaming Ontario (iGO),” the regulator continued in its discussion paper.
“If any registrant or applicant does not meet this standard (once in force), they will be jeopardizing their eligibility to obtain or continue holding an AGCO registration.”
The regulator said it proposed the October 31 deadline, rather than a more immediate one, “in order to provide affected operators and suppliers with sufficient time to comply with the proposed new standard.”
Meanwhile, a second new standard proposed by the AGCO on Monday would add new technical requirements for the operation of live-dealer online casino games related to the security of the physical equipment used in the games.
“The draft amendments … seek to ensure integrity of the gaming equipment and to expressly proscribe the live presenter from making determinative game-related decisions (i.e., the presenter is not able to make independent decisions to determine the outcome of the game),” the AGCO said.
Any comments on the two proposed changes must be submitted through the AGCO’s iGaming Engagement Portal by September 19.