In May 2022, the province of Ontario finally put into effect last summer’s decision to legally regulate the private igaming sector. Online gambling in Canada has been around for years now, of course, but this is the first major push towards an open market.
Dozens of online casinos in Canada have launched throughout April, backed by licenses issued by a new regulatory body. Here’s a rundown of everything you need to know about this new development.
iGaming Ontario and Licensed Canadian Casinos Online
The timeline of this new legislation is still a bit unclear, but a distinct push to legalize and regulate online gambling in Ontario goes back years. Online casinos have already started acquiring the proper licenses to operate, hoping to get an early start in this potentially massive market.
iGaming Ontario was established as a provincial agency tasked with managing private igaming operators. As a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, this new agency will also deal with customer protection and revenue generation.
The way we see it, this can only be good for Ontarians and Canada at large. After all, a fairly robust online gambling market already existed in Canada. However, most customers were drawn to large international offshore casinos. These were not all that regulated nor taxed, so any sort of regulation is a clear improvement.
Moreover, Canadian online casinos are already quite familiar with the local market. Catering specifically to local demographics, they’ve had a lot of success in providing gaming services of all kinds. This includes online casinos, live dealer gaming, and internet sports betting. Considering the massive growth of the online gambling industry in recent years, it’s important to keep up with the times in these matters.
And while the focus remains squarely on Canada’s biggest province, the potential effects are much broader. The goal is for Ontario to serve as the foundation of the future of online gambling in Canada.
Growing Interest and Concerns
It’s worth noting that not everyone is happy about these new gambling laws in Canada. Specifically, classic brick-and-mortar casino operators aren’t too glad that the floodgates are open for massive international competition.
Moreover, First Nation communities had a sort of traditional presence in the gaming space. The Kahnawake Gambling Commission, specifically, regulated a sort of Canadian market since 1999. Notable Canadian betting sites such as Sports Interaction relied on the Kahnawake, whose license is suddenly a lot less important in Canada.
To be fair, growing competition is not the only concern. Specifically, online casinos in Canada will be taxed around 20% under this new law. This is an extremely low figure compared to the 55% rate of traditional, land-based casinos. The chief concern is that the numbers clearly favor online-only services.
On the other hand, a strong provincial agency means that operators will have clear-cut standards to uphold. Fans of casinos in Canada will have legal protection, preventing abuse in what is sometimes seen as a shady and predatory industry.
Specifically, problem gambling will be an issue every operator must directly address. Secondly, the ways in which gambling can be marketed and presented are now strictly controlled, especially when it comes to dealing with minors.
What This Means for Gamblers
One of the strongest arguments for legalizing online gambling in Canada is the simple fact that it already exists on a large scale. A regulatory body simply introduces checks and balances.
With that in mind, you may have already been gaming in Canada for quite a while. Sports betting had a certain legal status, but casino games like slots or blackjack did not. However, it is realistically impossible to completely shut off the country from offshore operators. The result was a grey market, which will now likely cease to exist.
Any betting or casino sites in Canada will now be obligated to secure registration with the AGCO. Playing strictly at licensed businesses is obviously a must. Not that you would be breaking any laws otherwise – these regulations target strictly operators instead of players. However, it’s important to have legal protection with a potentially addictive activity such as gambling.
According to the official AGCO website, over 20 operators are already licensed in the first month.
Sports betting alone is projected to grow into a $28 billion business in the first five years. It’s quite clear that the new remote gaming market will bring about more competition and choice. Moreover, the legislation can support the growth of a new, potentially massive industry.