Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission (AGCO)
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is the government agency responsible for controlling the alcohol and cannabis trade and the gambling industry in Ontario.
This regulatory body is subordinate to the Ministry of the Prosecutor General, and also regulates all departments that oversee the gambling market.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario began operations in 1998. In its activities, this body is guided by the Law “On Public Protection”. It is on the basis of this legal act that the activity of the gambling market in the province of Ontario is regulated. In 2021, a new bill called the Ontario Commission on Alcohol and Gambling came into force.
This Commission is governed by a board of directors. It consists of six people, as well as a chairman who oversees their activities. This regulatory body also includes an executive director who oversees the activities of a large team that ensures the smooth and legal functioning of the gambling industry.
Spectrum of action The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is engaged in a variety of socially important tasks. This organization is responsible for regulating the retail sale of alcoholic beverages, cannabis, as well as managing gambling activities. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has the following important functions:
- Development of regulatory standards and assistance in the drafting of legislative acts;
- Registration of casino operators and software providers to ensure fair relations between participants in the gambling entertainment industry;
- Supervising the work of independent testing laboratories that conduct regular quality checks of software and gaming equipment in accordance with accepted international standards;
- Monitoring compliance by licensees with regulatory obligations and laws of the province of Ontario;
- Imposing sanctions and other legal penalties on licensees who do not comply with the requirements and rules of this regulatory body. Possible progressive penalties include a warning, monetary fines, or even license revocation;
- Constant informing of all software licensees and suppliers in order to make business relations as clear and comfortable as possible;
Principles of operation of the Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission
In its activities, the Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission (AGCO) adheres to the following principles:
- Compliance with the fair play policy and guaranteeing the safety of each player;
- Implementation of a system of critical regulatory controls in order to minimize the negative impact of the alcoholic beverage and gambling industry on the public;
- A client-oriented approach in all areas of the commission’s activities, which must ensure the safety of users, as well as without fail consider and analyze all complaints from players;
- Development of partnerships between AGCO’s entire licensees, software vendors and other stakeholders;
- Creation of comfortable favorable conditions for gambling business, where everyone will have opportunities for development and new achievements.
Summing up all of the above, we can conclude that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario regulates and manages the retail sale of alcohol and cannabis, as well as the gambling industry. To this end, the Commission monitors compliance with all provisions of the current legislation, as well as provides support and advice to all AGCO licensees.
At the legislative level, the gambling entertainment industry in Canada is prohibited by the Federal Criminal Code. Any gambling activity in the territory of this jurisdiction is illegal.
But some provinces have changed their local laws. Due to this, gambling business development is possible on their territory. This process takes place according to “lottery schemes”, which are in great demand in this country. Let’s take a closer look at their mechanism of action. Any games and slot machines are classified as games of chance or skill games. Depending on this division, gambling entertainment can be either illegal in a certain province or subject to licensing. Each Canadian province has the right to create its own legislative framework for regulating the gambling industry.
Canada’s legal framework can vary significantly from region to region. This is due to the fact that each province can independently adopt ordinances and regulations. Therefore, each province can simultaneously be both a regulator and an operator in the gambling industry. But, nevertheless, state legislative acts highlight a number of mandatory aspects:
- Permissible area and location of gambling establishments;
- The procedure for conducting financial control over the activities of gaming platforms;
- Compliance with the rules and principles of responsible gambling;
- A variety of available gambling entertainment that is subject to licensing;
- Guaranteed safety for every player.
Peculiarities of licensing horse racing and lotteries
Horse racing is regulated by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. As part of this ministry, there is a special department that regulates bets on horse racing. This agency is called the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, CPMA. The main goal of his activity is to create an effective legislative framework for the regulation of horse racing throughout the state.
Almost every province has its own lottery commission, which is created by local authorities. Examples of such lottery commissions include The Western Canada Lottery Corporation or British Columbia Lottery Corporation. Some provinces put the regulation of horse racing on The Alcohol and Gaming Commission. In addition, this task may rely on law enforcement agencies, such as the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch in British Columbia.
Conditions for obtaining a license
The concept of a gambling license as such does not exist in Canada. There is a state monopoly in the gambling entertainment industry. The main providers of services in the field of gambling entertainment here are the Royal Corporations.
The Royal Lottery Corporations may legally enter into contracts with private operators. Thus, they provide them with permission to conduct gambling activities in the province. Since the activity is carried out on the basis of the signing of an agreement, the need for a gambling license is automatically eliminated.
Gambling operators and software providers have the opportunity to cooperate with both private companies and government agencies. They may be engaged in the supply of equipment, services, software and other goods. The main condition is to pass the registration procedure with the local regulatory authorities of the province without fail. Each Canadian province has its own requirements for gambling permit holders.
Licensed gambling entertainment
The following types of gambling entertainment are subject to licensing in the province of Ontario:
- Poker rooms;
- Sports betting;
- Horse racing bets;
- Online casino;
- Slot machines;
- Terminals with games.
Other than the provinces themselves, only charitable or religious organizations can offer bingo and lotteries. Charities do not offer slot machines or casino games.
Legislation of the province of Ontario
The largest income from gambling comes from the province of Ontario – 35% of the total revenue structure of all provinces. The article goes on to look at Ontario law as a prime example of how Canadian gambling is regulated.
There are three regulators in the province of Ontario, all of them state-owned:
- Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is a provincial royal institution founded in 1998. The organization regulates alcohol, gambling and horse racing in the province. It also issues licenses for charity lotteries. Previously, there were two regulators: Liquor License Board of Ontario and the Gaming Control Commission;
- Provincial authorities;
- Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is a government agency that operates land-based gaming venues and websites in the province. Previously, there were two gambling operators: The Ontario Casino Corporation (OCC) and the Ontario Lottery Corporation (OLC). The companies merged in 2000.
Gambling in the province is regulated by laws:
- Alcohol and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act of 1996;
- Gaming Control Act of 1992;
- Horse Racing License Act 2015.
All laws have additional provisions on certain aspects of the gambling business.
The situation with the gambling business in Ontario
State-owned companies have been providing gambling services to residents of the province since 1975. An important part of their mission is the redirection of income to public tasks. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is now actively changing its structure and business model, trying to follow the trends.
Ontario players spend $400 million annually on unregulated online sites. Most of the revenue comes from slot machines – 88%. Over time, profits decline because new casinos open near the US border in Michigan, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, etc.
Accordingly, the provincial government is paying a lot of attention to modernizing its lottery scheme. Online casinos are opening, a responsible gambling program is being created specifically for the Internet space. A private gambling service provider will be selected and contracted.
Canadian legislation does not make significant distinctions between land-based and online gambling. Provinces offer online games as a variation of their lottery schemes.
So-called “legal representatives” often deal with online gambling issues. This role is usually played by the Royal Corporation. Thus, online gambling in Canada is a state monopoly.
At the end of 2014, the government of Quebec published a report that justified the need to change the Criminal Code regarding online games. The amendment to the Code should allow provinces to grant online gaming licenses to individuals. In 2016, Quebec banned access to illegal websites.
Features of the gambling business in the provinces of Canada
Since the legislative provisions of the provinces differ, the gambling business itself is characterized in different ways. In some provinces, you can play from the age of 18, in others – from 19. Somewhere only lotteries are allowed, and somewhere – full-fledged casinos, bets and horse races.
Below is a brief description of the gambling business in individual Canadian provinces:
- Alberta – the age limit is 18 years. Gambling in casinos, lotteries and bets are allowed;
- British Columbia – casinos, bets on horse races, bingo and lotteries, slot machines are available from 19 years old. There is a legal portal for BCLC – British Columbia Lottery Corporation;
- Labrador – games are available from 19 years old. Offline and online lotteries, as well as horse racing, are legalized. As for online lotteries, only the state lotteries, which are satisfied by the province, are allowed;
- Manitoba – the age limit is 18 years. The province has casinos, lotteries and sweepstakes at the races;
- Newfoundland – You can play from the age of 19 by betting on horse races. Offline lotteries are also allowed. Online lottery – only provincial;
- Northwest Territories – 19+ only and state lottery only;
- Nova Scotia – age limit from 19 years. Casinos, bookmakers, offline lotteries and the state online lottery are operating;
- Ontario – games are available from 19 years old, there are casinos, bookmakers, lotteries on the territory. Provincial internet lottery allowed;
- Prince Edward Island – can be played from 19 years old. An interesting feature is racino, a hybrid of a casino and a totalizator for bets. Private lotteries and government online lottery are allowed;
- Quebec – age limit from 18 years. There are several online and offline lotteries, poker rooms, casinos and sweepstakes at the races;
- Saskatchewan – games are allowed from 19 years of age. Legalized online lottery from the province, as well as offline lotteries, casinos, bookmakers and racinos;
- Yukon – gambling is available from 19 years old. Public and private lotteries are allowed, as well as non-profit casinos.
On this page, you can find a list of online casinos that operate on the basis of a license from the Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission. All these platforms adhere to the rules of responsible gambling, as well as guarantee fair payouts and transparent financial payments. Therefore, you can safely enjoy your favorite gambling entertainment!