The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s (AGCO) go-live requirements explicitly prohibit private Ontario retail sportsbooks. AGCO tucked this prohibition beneath its table of goals in section one of the go-live requirements:
“As part of promotional partnerships, igaming operators or other businesses cannot provide gaming devices or gaming equipment to players to access an igaming site at a physical premises.”
According to the go-live requirements, that includes “tablet[s] or kiosk[s].” Since those would create a “land-based gaming site,” licensed sports betting and igaming operators will be forbidden from offering them.
However, there’s one exception to this rule:
“In Ontario, OLG [Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation] conducts and manages lottery schemes offered at land-based gaming sites (including casinos, cGaming sites, and lottery), and on its own electronic channel, olg.ca. iGaming Ontario (iGO) conducts and manages the online lottery schemes that are not conducted and managed by OLG, and does not conduct and manage any land-based gaming sites.”
OLG operates Proline, the lottery-run retail product, and Proline+, the lottery-run online product. So, Proline is the only online sportsbook or igaming operator allowed to offer any retail channels to its online products. It’s how they’ll continue to be able to offer the retail parlay product that bettors 18 and older. (Ontario bettors won’t gain access to online products until age 19.)
Keeping Private Ontario Retail Sportsbooks Out
Ontario’s private sports betting and igaming industries will be entirely online. They also don’t have to secure partnerships with retail casinos to gain market entry.
Two American states, Tennessee and Wyoming, also operate on this model. (The lottery in those states don’t operate sportsbooks on the side.) It can work, but it makes the state gaming regulator the only industry gatekeeper.
Often, land-based casinos will only partner with the most reliable sportsbook operators. But in online-only markets like Tennessee, less reliable books can slip through the cracks. For example, Tennessee revoked Action 24/7’s sports betting license following its failure to act upon a credible case of credit card fraud. So, the state regulatory agency can work, but often not until after misconduct or control failures occur.
So, it’ll be interesting to see how AGCO’s regulatory approach works — especially as gray-market operators seek and receive online sports betting and igaming licenses.