If you keep up with the gambling industry news, then you’ve probably heard that Ontario became the first province in the Great White North to legalize and regulate private gambling markets for online bettors. The change went into effect on April 4, 2022, and many experts saw this as a move to turn Canada into one of the biggest gaming markets in North America.

While many have welcomed the legalization of online gambling in Canada with open arms, some are concerned it may negatively impact society. Even though it’s already been a few months since the legalization, the emerging Canadian iGaming market is still all the rage worldwide, surpassing all expectations.

Legal iGaming in Ontario — What Are the Benefits?

Online gambling in Ontario has been legal for a few months now, and we can already spot a few benefits it has brought to the province. One of the main reasons why the Canadian government legalized online gambling in the first place was the safety of passionate players from this country. 

Namely, with no legal websites for betting and gambling, players from Canada had no choice but to visit offshore online gambling sites. Although many trustworthy websites accept Canadians, there are still numerous platforms ready to take advantage of players’ wallets and give nothing in return.

Online gambling legalization enabled the government to come up with strict rules for gambling operators and ensure that Canadian players have safe iGaming options. Additionally, Ontario’s legal gambling sites have been a good idea profit-wise since players stopped leaving tons of money on offshore sites and funnelled the cash into the province.

Will the Rest of Canada Follow Ontario’s Lead?

At the moment, all eyes are on Ontario, as this province first implemented the legal online gambling model in the country. Although it’s still too soon to tell, Ontario is doing just fine after a couple of months of legalization. The positive development has been enough for a few other provinces to start thinking about moving the boundaries for online gambling.

For instance, the province of Saskatchewan signed a Gaming Framework Agreement with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations to make the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) the province’s online gambling operator. Gambling in this province should be available on desktop and mobile devices sometime in 2022, and it’s up to SIGA to choose the service provider for this project.

Simultaneously, the news about online gambling came from Alberta, where Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) called potential vendors to action. AGLC directed them to bid for their place in the upcoming sports betting market through the Alberta Purchasing Connection. Currently, there are two spots for operators that can feature both retail and online sports betting and make it available in Alberta by the end of the year.

Other Side of iGaming Legalization in Ontario

Canada has undoubtedly flourished with the legalization of online gambling. However, not everyone shares the excitement about legal gambling sites and their availability.

The first ones who had a word or two against legal online gambling were the First Nations communities and several brick-and-mortar casino operators. Their concerns pertained to the financial side of the business and, more importantly, profit, which was likely to drop after the launch.

The operators that raised their voices against legalization were afraid that residents of Ontario might completely turn to online gambling and stop visiting legal land-based gambling hubs in the province. Furthermore, this wouldn’t only affect the operators’ financial gain but also the province itself, as the lack of business in land-based establishments would mean fewer jobs available.

Another potential problem was the possibility of a higher percentage of gambling addiction within the province. The legal websites would make gambling available to almost everyone and wouldn’t properly protect players from overspending and bankruptcy.

What Does It Take to Enter Ontario’s iGaming Market?

Even though online gambling is now legal in Ontario, this doesn’t mean just anyone can offer its services on the web to Canadian players. Before launching a website, every online gaming operator must first register with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Yet, this isn’t as simple as it sounds since this process requires several steps. The first thing an operator should do is to check the AGCO’s iGaming operator application guide, which includes a list of all the documents applicants must prepare and deliver to the commission.

Then, the provider must sign an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of the AGCO, which is in charge of internet gaming in the province. In addition, there’s a non-refundable annual regulatory fee of $100,000 per gambling website the operator must pay when it applies.

Moreover, the operator must cover any extra costs determined by the regulatory body provided that the AGCO decides to investigate the operator’s application further. Finally, the AGCO will process the registration application, go through the submitted documentation and determine whether the operator can join Ontario’s online gaming market.

This entire process has been intentionally created in this way so that only serious businesses can apply for a licence to offer services in Ontario. Needless to say, the biggest names in the industry like DraftKings, FanDuel, and 888 have met the criteria and entered the scene along with dozens of other perspective operators.

Final Thoughts

Canada’s province of Ontario has recently legalized online gambling — a move met with both support and criticism. Those in favour of legalization argue that it will provide a much-needed boost to the provincial economy and allow people to gamble in a safe and regulated environment. 

Critics, on the other hand, argue that online gambling would lead to an increase in problem gambling and reduce the revenue currently collected by the legal land-based gambling venues, thus costing the province more money than it brings in. 

Only time will tell whether or not online gambling is a good thing for Ontario. For now, the province seems to be doing fine, and the first statistical reports are expected soon. Also, other Canadian provinces have shown interest in expanding their gambling options to the online world, meaning that Ontario has, in fact, had an impact on online gaming in the country.

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Joel Levy