The Canadian Criminal Code forbids all gambling in the Great White North. However, section 207 of this law allows provincial governments to conduct and manage gaming within their territories as they see fit, with a few restrictions.
These mainly refer to horse racing getting addressed separately in the Criminal Code, banning provinces from exploring it in its entirety. Furthermore, until recently, there was also a nationwide constrain on parlay betting, which has since gotten lifted.
As a rule of thumb, most Canadian provinces give their Lottery Corporations carte blanche regarding them allowing various gaming types within Canada’s territories/provinces. These entities have approached online gambling super cautiously only in the last decade, building their gaming systems, which are sadly uncompetitive with those from offshore operators.
Nonetheless, all that may likely change soon as the country’s largest province, Ontario, launched its regulated online gambling market on April 4th, 2022, permitting residents to bet on sports and play casino games for real money online.
iGaming Ontario is the province’s internet gambling regulator, a subsidiary of the Alchohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The body will license and oversee suppliers and operators in this market, as Ontario hopes to see over 1,300 jobs created relatively soon due to this novel sector debuting. The AGCO recently allowed a slew of interactive gaming suppliers to start offering their products and services in Ontario instantly when online gambling went live in this province. These included Rush Street Interactive, Kambi, Play’n Go, BetMGM, 888 Holdings, Leo Vegas, Bragg Gaming, Inspired Entertainment, Kindred, Pariplay, BetMGM, Fan Duel, Gaming Realms, and others.
In total, sixteen operators have set up shop to operate in Ontario. Many more have registered with the AGCO but have yet to secure agreements with the province’s newly-formed regulator. Note that before Ontario moved to legislate online gambling, its residents were still free to play casino games at offshore sites, as no law exists that outright prohibited this option.
According to analysts, Ontario’s population of fifteen million should generate around $800 in gross gaming revenues in 2022. For comparison, Pennsylvania, one of the US’ most gambling-friendly states, boasting a population of 12.8 million, pulled in $500 million in gaming revenues last year.
Per a report from PointsBet, less than a minute into the launch of Ontario’s market, the renowned sports betting company headquartered in Denver, Colorado, announced that someone had placed their first sizeable ($500) wager with them. It was a two-leg parlay on the Maple Leafs over Tampa Bay and North Carolina to beat Kansas in the NCAA.
It is also worth noting that in September 2021, Ontario published its standards on online gaming and betting. In large part, these mirror many player-safety innovations pioneered by the UK Gambling Commission. Notable examples are the removal of the autoplay function and the implementation of 2.5-second spin timers.
iGaming Ontario has not yet set up a nationwide self-exclusion system akin to the UKGC’s GamStop. But the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation has such a program allowing players to take a break from their gaming activities.
Casino-style and charitable gambling at physical venues is legal in Ontario, with persons over the age of nineteen being able to enjoy the first gaming category and individuals eighteen or over, the second. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, better known under its acronym OLG, owned by the Government of Ontario, is responsible for the provinces, commercial and Aboriginal casinos, lotteries, charitable gaming, and slot machines at its horse-racing tracks.
As mentioned above, the AGCO regulates these spheres that the OLG operates, an organization that posted annual revenues of $8.3 billion in 2019.
The most famous casinos in Ontario include the Fallsview Resort, the Caesars Windsor, the Rama Resort, Casino Niagara, the Hard Rock in Ottawa, and Rideau Carleton Casino.
While most within the gambling sphere cheered on Ontario finally establishing an online gaming market, not everyone is overly excited about this occurrence.
Those operating in the horse-racing industry worry that the sports betting expansion could severely impact their sector, particularly since Woodbine Entertainment, Canada’s largest betting company, cannot incorporate pari-mutuel horse racing into its internet sportsbook.