Ontarians woke up on Halloween to find out they had treats in their bags. The first goodie: Today is the deadline for gray market online casino and sports betting operators to meet regulatory requirements or face penalties. It’s also the first business day after the announcements that Ontario retail sportsbooks can begin populating the land.
As for the former, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) set today as the deadline for the province’s gray market iGaming operators to come into compliance. On Oct. 3, AGCO published new and amended “standards.” The primary change was that by today, “operators and gaming-related suppliers must cease all unregulated activities.”
It made sense that gray market Ontario online casino and sports betting operators would then seek regulatory approval. However, it doesn’t appear as though there’s been a rush to join the $1 billion legal Ontario online casino and sports betting marketplace.
Returning to the latter, Ontario retail sportsbooks are on their way. On Friday, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced that “select” retail casinos can launch retail sportsbooks.
Ontario Retail Sportsbooks Are Coming
When private online gambling operators joined OLG in the ranks of legal iGaming on April 4, a few items were noticeably lagging.
First, online gambling operators with OLG retail partnerships were having trouble joining the iGaming marketplace. That issue took months to resolve.
Second, Ontario retail sportsbooks weren’t yet included.
That second matter changed on Friday.
The OLG press release quotes Paul Burns, the president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association:
This ongoing collaboration will result in new and expanded options for sports betting – including some first-of-their-kind sportsbooks in Canada – which will attract more people to visit Ontario’s casinos and encourage continued growth across the industry.
Almost immediately on Friday, Great Canadian Entertainment (GCE) announced “guests can now make in-person sports bets” at 10 Ontario gambling destinations.
GCE referred to itself in the third person regarding the Ontario retail sportsbooks:
Four of its destinations, including Great Blue Heron Casino & Hotel, Pickering Casino Resort, Elements Casino Brantford and Shorelines Casino Belleville, have launched dedicated sportsbook lounges, called Great Canadian Sportsbooks, where sports enthusiasts can watch live games, enjoy their favourite game-day food and beverage options, and place bets at one of several available kiosks. The lounges will also have team members available at peak times who can answer any questions related to the new services and take wagers from customers.
Gaming floors at six more GCE locations house sportsbook kiosks:
- Casino Woodbine,
- Shorelines Casino Peterborough,
- Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands,
- Elements Casino Mohawk,
- Elements Casino Grand River, and
- Elements Casino Flamboro
Ontario iGaming Deadline
It doesn’t seem as though there’s been a rush to be regulated. The ACGO site shows it approved 10 Internet gaming operator registrations from Oct. 3 to today. That either means there aren’t many gray market online gambling operators left in Ontario, or some are still evading regulation efforts.
Meanwhile, iGaming Ontario (iGO), the entity that authorizes operating agreements, lists 58 regulated online gambling sites already. Some of those sites, like Coolbet and LeoVegas, are among the 10 on AGCO’s October approvals.
Others, such as BetMGM and FanDuel, launched on April 4. That was Day One of Ontario’s expanded online gambling marketplace.
OLG was the OG operator before being joined by private entities ranging from 888 to WSOP.
Any news coming out of the province after the Ontario retail sportsbooks launching will most likely be the trick portion of trick-or-treating. AGCO promises non-complaint gray market iGaming operators will soon be penalized.