An Ontario regulator says 30 operators of online sportsbooks and gambling websites have applied thus far to do business in the province, which is on track to become the most competitive market for internet-based betting in Canada.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) began issuing its first operator registrations for Ontario’s new internet gaming market last week, starting with bookmakers PointsBet, Rivalry Corp., and theScore Bet.
Those registrations are “a significant milestone” for the AGCO as it prepares for the scheduled launch of the market on April 4, the regulator said.
Registering with the AGCO is also one of two key steps for private-sector operators of online sportsbooks and casinos if they want to legally take bets in Ontario. The second is the execution of an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario, a government agency and AGCO subsidiary.
“The AGCO vets all operators who wish to participate in the Ontario market to ensure the integrity of gaming and of sector participants,” the regulator’s communications team told Covers in an email on Friday. “There are currently 30 operators that have applied and the AGCO is working closely with all applicants to help them prepare for the opening of the market.”
From one to 30
Thirty more operators in Ontario would be a major increase from the number of companies that are currently allowed to offer iGaming in the province, which is one: government-owned Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. OLG runs the only legal online sportsbook in the province at the moment, PROLINE+.
The addition of 30 new and legal options for internet-based sports betting and casino gambling would allow players to shop around for the best odds and sign-up bonuses. It would also allow operators to try to cash in on the market potential of Canada’s most populous province, with some of the biggest names in online gaming expected to try their hand.
“The first of its kind in Canada, Ontario’s new igaming market will allow Ontarians to play on some of the world’s leading gambling sites, with the assurance those sites are being closely monitored for game integrity, player protections and responsible operations,” the AGCO said.
A few clouds on the horizon
Ontario residents will have to be 19 years of age and older to bet at the province’s online sportsbooks and casinos. The AGCO has a long list of other standards that operators must abide by as well, in addition to the obligations companies will have as part of their agreements with iGaming Ontario.
There are other potential issues on the horizon, such as possible legal challenges. One Ontario First Nation has already vowed to contest the iGaming scheme in court.
But if there are serious concerns about the legality of the iGaming market, operators have yet to show them. Thus far, the attitude from the bookmakers aiming to take bets in the province has been one of excitement as they prepare to tap into one of the biggest consumer markets in Canada and the U.S.
“We’ve been and will continue to be at the forefront as regulated internet gaming is introduced in Ontario and are beyond excited to be able to bring theScore Bet to our home market on April 4,” said John Levy, CEO of theScore, in a February 3 press release. “Finally, the countdown to launch has begun.”