On March 11, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released its go-live regulations for private Ontario igaming operators. This guide is an overview of technical specifications that AGCO requires from online gaming operators before they can launch in Ontario.
This is separate from the Standards for Internet Gaming that AGCO released in February 2022. The Standards for Internet Gaming offer broad rules for online gaming operators. So they cover issues like Ontario’s marketing regulations, expectations for identifying and dealing with unlawful behavior, and maintaining gaming integrity.
Big Picture: Ontario iGaming Go-Live Requirements
Ontario’s igaming go-live requirements begin with the goal of the requirements. Therefore, it touches on issues the Standards for Internet Gaming go into detail about.
The most important part is the emphasis on outcomes. AGCO is saying that it cares more about the effectiveness of the protections than the actual protections sportsbook operators use. AGCO has certification agencies licensed with them. But igaming operators have some say in how they handle consumer protection.
The remaining four sections specify the forms to fill out and certain risk scales to use. But what ties them all together is the emphasis on not only testing but also retesting.
Online Gaming Testing And Retesting
Sections two through five go over required forms and performance standards for igaming technical areas:
- Technical documents operators must submit to AGCO, including previous security vulnerability assessments.
- Control Activity Matrix (CAM) requirements, which outlines the risks sportsbooks face and the controls they have in place to mitigate them.
- Independent Testing Lab (ITL) requirements, including the software that must be tested and certification conditions.
- How to report reports and certain data to AGCO.
Reviewing these sections, the common thread that runs through each of these sections is the idea of retesting. For example, if an igaming operator has to fix a security flaw, then it must undergo another security scan to confirm the fix.
A more drastic example would be if a previously undetected flaw ruined an online casino game or sports wager. If something catastrophic happened, then that igaming operator would have to reapply for certification. So, failing to adhere to Ontario igaming standards could kick an igaming operator out of the market.
What’s interesting is that operators can’t get back in without a follow-up screen. So this allows AGCO to learn from previous mistakes and discover what works and what doesn’t.
AGCO As Ontario’s Main Gatekeeper
Building the capability to learn is critical for Ontario. Ontario igaming operators won’t be required to be “tethered” to a land-based casino. Tethering is a common condition for igaming operators in the United States. For example, sportsbooks cannot enter the Colorado market without partnering with a land-based casino.
The partnerships only pacify land-based casinos that don’t want to lose business to online gambling. It also allows land-based casinos to act as gatekeepers to keep unsafe or amateurish igaming companies out of the market.
AGCO will have to make up for the protective layer that land-based casinos make in the United States. Subsequently, that responsibility undergirds AGCO’s go-live requirements and other igaming regulations.