Although it already feels like a lifetime, it's been only one month since Ontario regulated online gambling; the first province to do so in Canada. Here's a brief look into what has changed for operators and players alike and what gamblers can expect from the months to come.
The Removal of Grey Markets
Up until last year, online casinos and sports betting sites were technically illegal in Ontario and all of Canada. Still, players could access a wealth of real money gambling sites with ease; all operated from overseas and without any control over oversee of the Canadian government.
For Ontarians, this all changed as of April this year. Just as the Senate passed a new bill legalizing single-game betting last Summer, the largest Canadian province by population went one step further. It paved the way to make online betting and online casinos, to some degree, legal.
To operate legally in Ontario, gambling firms have to obtain a license from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which basically details a revenue-share agreement with the province. Once granted, bookmakers and Internet casinos can operate with the province's blessing.
So far, big names in the gambling industry have obtained the said license, including names such as:
Other major players such as DraftKings and Betway are said to follow but haven't been granted the Ontarian license just yet. Surprisingly, none of the leading firms that exclusively operate online casinos are on the list of licensees. This might be because the new iGaming regulations don't allow casino sites to promote bonuses and incentives other than on the homepage.
One can only speculate that this makes it hard for gambling firms to run their online casinos profitably. They often use different welcome bonuses as a distinguishing factor between their sister sites. Not being able to cross-promote various offers shortens the player's lifespan in the firm's ecosystem.
Benefits of a Regulated Market
So why did Ontario decide to regulate online gambling anyway? What are the benefits to the province, operators, and players?
In fact, as it stands now, the benefits of a regulated market greatly outweigh the risks.
The province's incentive to grant licenses to gambling operators is clear. Sharing revenue with the firms means a sudden and significant new income stream, which otherwise would have vanished entirely.
For operators, possessing an Ontarian license means they operate fully compliant with the law. These firms, therefore, can invest in innovation and grow their business without having to fear that a complete and sudden ban will put their operation at risk.
And for players, the biggest benefit of a regulated market is safety and security. As iGaming executive director Martha Otton said in a statement, the core goal of this move is to introduce rigorous standards to ensure fairness of games and player protection. Players, therefore, can be sure that games are not rigged, deposits are held securely, and win payouts are honored and calculated correctly. On top, for those players at risk of developing a gambling addiction, additional funds and resources will be available to offer support and future prevention.
All of this is true as long as Ontario continues its open-minded path of iGaming regulation. What happens when rules become too tight shows the examples of Great Britain, Sweden, and Germany. All three countries introduced extreme restrictions for online casinos and sports betting sites, which caused an increase in grey market gambling in the past year.