Since April 2019, the province of Ontario has been working on new legislation that will break the government’s monopoly on the online gaming industry. Until the new legislation was passed, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC) was the only entity providing online games, but now private providers will be able to launch their own alternatives.
As the first province in Canada to legalise online gambling, the Ontarian government is being hailed for its innovative by some for the foundation of iGaming Ontario (IGO). This will operate as a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and allow Ontario casinos to operate online for those gamers that want to enjoy digital gaming.
Ontario-based computer companies are welcoming the news, having missed out on the Ontario online gaming market which is thought to be worth around $500 million per year. Until now, gamers had to use offshore sites that didn’t fall under the legal jurisdiction of the Ontario government but now gambling sites need to register with the province and be assessed for tax to be able to offer online gambling services in Ontario.
What does this mean for local gambling sites?
One of the major players in the Ontario gambling market is a local business called ‘Rivalry’, a business co-founded by Steven Salz who is an Ontario native. They are hoping to leverage their local advantage to encourage Ontarian gaming fans to choose their site and use the increase in regulation to offer a safer gaming experience.
Companies wishing to operate in this new territory will need to conform to the standards expected of licensing authorities such as the Malta Gaming Authority or the UK Gambling Commission. These include security measures such as ‘Know Your Customer’ identity checks, including:
Credit file – New players signing up for accounts with gaming sites based in Ontario will be subject to robust credit checks. Recognised Canadian credit bureaux will be required to verify the credit details of players opening new accounts and check their details against independent sources to ensure that each player is legitimate.
Dual Source – Operators must ensure that the information they store about their players is consistent across two different sources, but details must match in order for the financial account to be verified.
Document Verification – To meet the iGaming criteria, players will be required to upload their government-issued ID to their site of choice.
Operators will also have to conform to Anti-Money Laundering regulations, requiring players to update their details annually and monitoring players’ gaming habits and circumstances. Operators such as Penn National Gaming and the Score Bet both completed their accreditation in advance of the law changing to be among the first to offer online gambling in Ontario.
Operators have praised the Ontario authorities for their proactive and pragmatic approach to the new gaming legislation. Their aim is to establish a well-founded gaming market that will be able to capitalise on the rise of the industry and dominate the North American marketplace.
The rise of online gambling in Canada
Despite the legal position regarding gambling sites based in Canada, many gaming fans have found ways to play online that have allowed the online gaming market to thrive. Experts believe that nearly two-thirds of all Canadians of legal age will place a bet in the coming year, and a quarter play a lottery game on a weekly basis.
Sports betting is also a big market in Canada, attracting wagers of more than 15 million dollars across the country. The existing enthusiasm for online gambling is expected to give the newly established gaming industry a boost as new providers are able to appeal to that market.
Traditional casinos have always had their fans in Canada, but the convenience of gaming from home is likely to appeal to those that might not otherwise attend a casino in person. Many people prefer online gaming, for a variety of reasons, including:
- The convenience of playing whenever and from wherever they are
- Special offers and promotions available to online players
- Social media sites provide an online community for gamers that want to share hints and tips and post news of their biggest wins
- A wide variety of games to choose from that’s not limited by the space available as it is in a traditional casino
- Casino fans can enjoy live-streamed games to give the authentic casino experience
- New gamers can learn how to play the various games available without the pressure of onlookers
- A choice of payment methods including funding their balance from international accounts or using cryptocurrencies
- Online casinos offer enhanced security and provide players with additional protection through their customer service programmes online authentication processes
Online casinos have also embraced the variety of new technology available, offering players the latest in immersive and interactive gaming. From Artificial Intelligence to Virtual Reality, the world of gaming has adapted to give players the chance to experience cutting edge technology from the comfort of their own homes.
Games developers are working with top graphic designers, illustrators, and musicians to provide studio-quality sound alongside hyper-realistic images that make gameplay more exciting than ever. There are games that are suitable for playing on the go, with friends or squeezing into a few moments whenever the opportunity arises.
With so many opportunities for gaming companies to develop their online presence in Ontario, the legalisation of online gambling is likely to contribute to a thriving market. With so many players keen to make the most of the change in law, the industry is likely to experience swift growth throughout the country.