Ontario’s government has officially launched its first phase of the province’s new regulation scheme for online gambling. In a news release, the government says the law will regulate online gambling in a manner similar to brick-and-mortar sites and will give “a safe and responsible path to a more dynamic industry.” The law allows commercial online gambling in the province for the first time. The Progressive Conservative government says it also has several announcements planned for the coming days, including details about the upcoming launch of an online games room, a new provincial licensing regime for casinos, and an investment agreement for an online poker site. Starting from April, gamblers can enjoy a safe and risk-free gambling experience at top casinos from CasinoLuck.ca ratings and reviews.
Government of Ontario Supports Growth of Industry and Protects Ontario Players
Gambling online has exploded in Ontario in the past two years, and the provincial government has introduced a system of regulation and oversight to ensure that consumers have a safe and responsible path to a more dynamic industry. The first phase of the law went into effect on April, 4 and allows licensed commercial online gambling.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan stated:
“This legislation will introduce significant new revenues into Ontario’s gaming and economic development strategy while protecting the integrity of Ontario’s gaming operations. Regulating online gambling in Ontario as it does in Ontario brick-and-mortar casinos will ensure that the government has the right tools to protect Ontario’s people from criminals and that gaming is conducted in a manner that is fair to all Ontarians. I thank all those who have worked hard to make this important and significant change in Ontario’s gaming policy.”
The legislation received Royal Assent will provide Ontario-licensed online gambling companies with a regulated business environment, which includes an independent regulator, licensing, taxation, and consumer protections. The new framework aligns Ontario’s regulatory policies and approaches with those of other jurisdictions. This is something that a well-versed casino veteran Mason Barrington believes to bring the online gambling segment in Canada to a new level. Being an experienced gambler, Mason knows what he is saying.
The government’s regulation of online gambling includes the following statements:
- A new independent Gambling Commissioner will be responsible for ensuring that the integrity of Ontario’s licensed online gambling activities is maintained and protected;
- The OAG (Ontario’s Anti-Gambling Enforcement Unit) will continue to investigate and prosecute those who attempt to use online gambling to commit fraud or money laundering;
- Regulations will ensure fair and consistent rules and policies are applied to online gambling and are administered independently from licensed online gambling operators;
- The government will invest $70 million annually into the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation for the next four years and will increase those revenues to $130 million annually;
- Revenues from the new online gambling system will be used for things like health care and education. Ontario is the only jurisdiction in the country to guarantee that revenue from a regulated online gambling system goes to health care and education;
- The province will collect at least $30 million annually from fees paid by online gambling companies;
- Ontario’s legal age to gamble online will be set at 18 years.
Starting from April, licensed online gambling companies are allowed to offer internet-based gambling activities in Ontario. Licensed online gambling companies can provide their products and services under the existing regulations set by the OLG and other gambling companies. They will need to comply with the existing rules which include:
- Minimum age of 18 years to gamble online;
- No player can receive the same cash payment for the same product more than once;
- Payment to players must be in accordance with a players bank account;
- Licensed online casinos must comply with the Gambling Bill and with the OLG Code;
- All online gambling services must be independently administered, regulated, and audited by an approved independent audit firm.
Gambling companies operating in Ontario must submit their application and receive their licenses prior to February 1, 2012.
Gaming Minister Christine Elliott noted:
“Since online gambling has grown into a $3.7 billion industry in Ontario, we knew we had to act to protect players and bring fairness and responsibility into Ontario’s online gambling industry. As a result of the extensive consultations, we have had with both industry players and gaming experts, and the careful considerations we have taken into account, the government has adopted the online gambling policy we believe is best in the province.”
Online gambling is the fastest-growing segment of the gaming industry in Ontario. As the government’s policy is consistent with similar legislation implemented by the government in other jurisdictions, this new legal framework will provide a safe and responsible pathway for online gambling in Ontario. This is the next phase of Ontario’s policy development for the emerging online gaming industry.
The government also is announcing several important announcements in the coming days:
In response to concerns from consumers and retailers, the government will be announcing a new initiative that will set a minimum retail price for video lottery tickets and online games in Ontario. This will allow retailers to offer the same price for their products, but with a minimum price to ensure consumers are able to access these games. Retailers have expressed concerns that the minimum price for games will not apply to brick-and-mortar casinos in the province. The government will be announcing a new voluntary agreement that allows brick-and-mortar casinos to sell products at a fixed price in a retail format.
The government will also be announcing plans to provide a safe environment for online poker in the province. A government-appointed Independent Advisory Board will be established and will conduct an independent review of the industry. The Board will examine issues, such as the regulation of online poker, gambling addiction, and the effectiveness of self-exclusion policies, and will make recommendations to the government on a regulatory approach for online poker, including the licensing of new companies and the continued operation of existing companies. The Advisory Board will also be developing a strategy for a new Ontario online games room, which is expected to be launched early next year.
Ontario’s new regulations for online gambling are consistent with those in place in other jurisdictions. In the province, revenues will be invested in health care and education. Gambling-related revenues will be collected and controlled by the Ministry of Finance and distributed as required by law. The government will maintain an annual review of the new system to ensure that it meets the needs of the Ontario economy and to protect the integrity of the gaming sector.
Ontario is currently one of the most competitive jurisdictions for online gambling in North America. The local government’s modernized gaming regulations will ensure that Ontario will continue to lead the way as the province that develops and regulates a safe and dynamic online gambling industry.