Online gambling in Canada has come a long way since its introduction in 1994, when the first casino website went live. General provisions in the law don’t strictly prohibit gambling online. While some provinces aren’t keen on allowing it, others have welcomed it and have put much effort into growing the industry.
Ontario is the forerunning province falling into the latter category. Recognizing the incredible revenue generated by iGaming, the province has made leaps and bounds in establishing a strong and dynamic industry that caters to various operators, making online gambling fun for all residents and even those just visiting the area.
When iGaming Ontario (iGO) was founded in 2021, online wagering in the province underwent a massive change. Where there was already a strongly structured framework for online operators, Ontario is now a hub for gambling activity and businesses catering to players.
Although iGO has helped evolve gambling in the region, it is changing the gaming experience and the industry in a few specific ways. Below, we’ll examine these changes and the impact that the governing body has had.
What is iGaming Ontario?
Before delving into how iGaming Ontario is changing the gambling landscape, let’s look at what it is. As mentioned, iGO was founded in 2021 as a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The ACGO is the government agency regulating all gambling activity and is responsible for licensing any online casino or gambling websites in Ontario.
Although any gambling company that wishes to offer its services in the province needs to be registered and licensed by the AGCO, iGO acts as an intermediary between the AGCO and private operators. It is responsible for the formation and execution of agreements with these operators—leaving the AGCO free to ensure regulations are being followed and to issue and revoke licenses.
iGaming Ontario is also responsible for establishing guidelines, policies, procedures, and programs that enhance the province’s industry while ensuring that government objectives are met. These include having proper frameworks to assist those with gambling addictions and protecting all gamblers in the province.
Finally, the body is responsible for reducing the logistics and red tape required for a provider to launch their services in the region. In doing this, iGO has helped establish an incredible industry in the territory that is by far the most advanced and sophisticated in the country.
Now, let’s look at how iGO is changing gambling in the province.
More Options With More Ease
iGaming Ontario makes it easier for new operators (those located within Canada and abroad) to enter the province’s gambling market. The body is helping bring many new providers to the region through operating agreements with these operators.
This is good news for providers, who are almost always looking to expand into new territories, and for players because it means more options. With each new site launching services in the province, local players have a greater selection of Ontario casinos. This means access to not just more games but also more bonuses, which are usually quite generous to attract new players.
One of the most significant benefits that iGO adds to the industry is greater transparency between the government and operators who provide their services to players. Providers must abide by all regulatory requirements through this working relationship between the two parties.
Gamblers know that each operator available is above board and safe to gamble with. While the best online casinos can easily be distinguished from scams, this adds another level of security to gambling in the province and provides players with additional peace of mind when gambling.
With tax applicable to operators set at just 20% of their revenue, Ontario is one of the cheapest regions to provide online gambling services. This attracts many operators and has inspired the launch of many websites in the local industry.
These operators agree to a revenue-sharing agreement as part of their operating agreement with iGO. This helps generate massive revenue for the local government, which is invested in local communities, government initiatives, and infrastructure.
Proof of this success can be seen in the revenue reports from the governing body. In the first quarter of 2023, sports betting alone generated more than $2 billion. In 2022, gamblers in the province wagered an estimated $35.6 billion.
More Accurate Statistics
As with any industry, market research, statistics, and information are the lifeblood that allows operators in the sector to make informed decisions on what new services to offer, products to launch, and changes to implement in their operations. For this, iGO has changed gambling in the region in a significant manner.
An additional function of iGO is to record and report all provincial gambling activity. Keeping tabs on what is spent by whom allows the body to accurately report players’ gambling habits and help the industry experience more growth.
Shaping the Market
Using the above strategies, iGaming Ontario is shaping a strong market within the province. Although many international regions have similar governing bodies, iGO has helped direct the province’s growth of the iGaming industry.
This guidance is done without heavy-handed regulation. Working alongside operators and helping them launch in an already competitive market, iGO has enabled the Ontario gambling industry to experience explosive growth. This growth has been another factor attracting international operators and, in turn, has inspired substantial investment in the sector.