Ontario Offers Unregulated Amnesty

Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission has unveiled its licence rules to operate in the province. Applicants must pay £58,000 to apply for a licence and commit to ceasing any grey market activity

Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission has taken a conciliatory tone towards operators in the grey market and has unveiled its licence application rules.

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Ontario Encourages Grey Market Applicants © Pixabay.

The regulating body will allow unregulated operators who have served the province to become regulated operators as part of a “fair” transition to the newly legalised market.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission has published its Gaming Operator Application Guide. It has confirmed it will allow those operators who have provided gambling services on an unregulated basis the opportunity to apply for a licence providing they cease their illegal operations.

“AGCO has developed a regulatory framework to ensure honesty and integrity for igaming in Ontario and to protect Ontario consumers while, at the same time, facilitating a business-like transition from unregulated to regulated igaming scheme that is fair for registrants,” the regulator said.

Any company, operator or supplier, must cease all unregulated activity once their application is approved and they have received a registration certificate from AGCO. Successful applications must also terminate any relationships they have with other companies or entities operating within the grey market.

“We will be as practical and pragmatic as possible and consistent with our regulatory mandate when engaging with applicants,” they explained.

Opening the application process to operate in the province will commence once the state-run operator, iGaming Ontario, completes its first commercial and data agreements.

The state-run iGaming Ontario is a subsidiary of Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission. This decision will see them compete with local suppliers and a host of international operators who see Canada as a country with potential. The regulated market will open this year. Those operators who register their application and are accepted by Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission can offer gambling services to their customers from December.

Operators who apply for a licence must pay an application fee of C$100,000 (£58,000) per site. They will also be liable for an annual fee of C$100,000 (£58,000), meaning they would need an outlay of £116,000 to enter the regulated market.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission has also stated that applicants would be liable to pay “reasonable” costs of an investigation into the applicant. The regulator has said these would be charged on an as-required basis, depending on the complexity and costs involved with the investigation.

Although the regulator has not disclosed what the investigation would look like, they likely would be assessing the operator’s performance whilst a grey operator. Customer feedback and the level of complaints are likely to be a factor.

The guidance section of the Gaming Operator Application Guide warns that any operator that has not applied for registration by the date of the launch of the regulated Ontario igaming scheme that continues to operate in the grey market risks not having their application approved.

To ensure that operators who transition from the unregulated to the regulated markets do not suffer any outages, the AGCO have said they will ensure the timing of the registration issuance with iGaming Ontario’s commercial contract signing will coincide with the transition to the regulated igaming scheme.

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