Sources Confirm Ontario iGaming Market Launch Delays

There have been rumours online for the past few weeks that that launch of Ontario's online gambling market will be delayed. Now, several industry insiders have confirmed to the Toronto Star that the Ontario regulated online gambling market may only be ready to launch in February 2022.

Initially, we were expecting to see regulated Ontario slots sites opening for business by the end of 2021. According to the Toronto Star's sources, delays in finalising the policies around data management and security (among others) have created a knock-on effect for potential operators. The operators would need time to adjust their internal systems to comply with the policies, so delays in finalising the policies mean additional delays for the online casinos who wish to apply for a licence.

Aside from bureaucratic snags, there may be some tangles in the legal framework that would support the regulated gambling system too. The Auditor General of Ontario released a report last week that highlighted its three main concerns:

  • Too much "decision-making power" in the hands of private operators could mean that iGaming Ontario is not meeting its obligations to manage the online gambling industry as set out in the Criminal Code;
  • The fact that iGaming Ontario, a profit-making organisation, falls directly under the regulator AGCO in terms of governance could mean that AGCO has a conflict of interest;
  • The AGCO and iGaming Ontario need to step up their measures to protect the public from unfair gaming practices. According to the report, "key responsibilities to maintain integrity and fairness have been entrusted to the private sector such as direct testing of internet gaming systems, game design, gaming systems, determination of payouts, and odds-setting."

Ontario's move to regulate its online gambling industry is a first for the country, and with the amount of money at stake, as well as the protection of the province's gamblers, it is important that Ontario gets it right. While delays are frustrating for people who want to play the best slot games online at a safe, regulated platform, launching a flawed system may lead to serious repercussions down the line.


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