Online gambling has been a hot matter of debate in the media, and Ontario in Canada is no exception. This article looks at the regulation of online bingo & casino games in Ontario, Canada, including how this gambling became popular and regulated and what other provinces have done about it.
Provincial Gambling Commissions
In Canada, provincial gambling commissions regulate all aspects of the gambling industry. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is responsible for this process in Ontario. They regulate lotteries and casinos as well as online gaming sites. Gambling on the internet has been legalized in Canada, but the provincial commissions must approve all online games before being made available to players.
Ontario has recently decided to apply additional licensing requirements, which have come into force as of April 4th 2022. Essentially they will provide a license to operate in the province, and there will be safeguards and rules for Ontario-licensed gambling providers and players.
At this point, there are 16 licensed gambling providers. It is still the early days for the licensing regime. From looking at the new Ontario licensed gambling brands, we can tell that they are very tilted toward sports betting and Poker games. There is currently one specific bingo-only operator. That is Delta Bingo which manages 18 land-based clubs and now offers Online Bingo to Ontarians. Given the popularity of online bingo in Canada, this is a bit sad to see. Canadians who want to play online bingo still need to visit unlicensed bingo operators.
Ontario Regulation of Online Gaming
Online gambling regulation in Ontario, Canada, has been debated for many years. All forms of gambling are illegal unless conducted by a provincial lottery or casino. On November 9th, 2017, the province passed Bill 174 with a six-month exclusivity clause prohibiting new online casinos from entering the market. This legislation was said to be put in place to protect consumers from fraudulent sites and keep money in the country. Despite the passing of this, it did not prevent players from accessing gambling sites that contravened this bill.
The recent Igaming licensing rules were passed to introduce safeguards and responsible gambling protocols in the province. It will prevent bad actors from participating in the Ontario market & ensure that players playing Ontario-licensed gambling products are protected. However, there are still unlicensed products; at this point, there is no move to block or restrict these actors from the market. At present, it appears that all Canadian Bingo-specific products are illegal.
History of Gambling Laws in Canada
In the early 1900s, gambling was illegal in Canada. It was seen as a form of vice and immoral behaviour. As time passed, there were more calls for a change in the law. Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government finally did away with these laws in 1969. However, until the 1980s, people started to see gambling as an accepted entertainment activity. After this point, gambling became widespread and was considered an industry contributing to the Canadian economy.
Online Gambling and the Law in Ontario
In Ontario, the provincial government is not in charge of regulating gambling. Instead, this responsibility falls to the Alchohol & Gaming Commission Ontario. Regarding online gambling, the AGCO has established licensing requirements that need to get adhered to facilitate the offering of gambling products to Ontario residents. The payment of license fees and taxes on gambling earnings on operators will all contribute to the Ontario Government coffers. These govern the types of games allowed on websites and age restrictions.
Online gambling has always been a contentious issue. However, the recent licensing by Ontario is the first step of a nationwide process in Canada by provincial governments. As it is not the Federal Government but the regional governments that take charge of this, we will likely see additional regulation and licensing by the different provincial governments in the coming period. View the current list of Ontario Licensed Online Gambling Providers here.