Ontario igaming market set to launch on April 4

Ontario’s regulated igaming market has been given a revised launch date of April 4, according to iGaming Ontario.
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Ontario’s regulated igaming market has been given a revised launch date of April 4, according to iGaming Ontario.

Originally expected to be operational in December 2021, the launch will establish a new online gaming platform that is said to “help protect consumers and provide more choice”.

From April 4, private gaming operators that have registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and have executed an operating agreement with iGO, a subsidiary of the AGCO, can begin to offer its games to players within the region.

Martha Otton, iGO Executive Director, stated: “Consumers can be assured that companies who successfully enter the new Ontario market will have met rigorous standards of game and operator integrity, fairness, player protection, and social responsibility, allowing all players to play with confidence.

“Prevention of underage access, ensuring compliance with applicable laws including anti-money laundering rules and regulations, and measures to enable more responsible gambling are just a few of the assurances consumers can expect in the new market as of April 4.”

“Today, most internet gaming by Ontarians takes place on websites not conducted and managed by the province. Our new internet gaming market will give consumers enhanced entertainment choice, support the growth of a new, legal market and generate revenue that can help fund programs and services that benefit all of us.”

Penn National Gaming’s President and CEO, Jay Snowden, congratulated the Ontario government for its “dedication” to creating a “modern open and regulated” sports betting and igaming market.

He stated: “Our team at theScore has been hard at work preparing for the Ontario market opening, which presents a significant business opportunity.

“As Canada’s preeminent digital sports media brand, theScore is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the introduction of the open and regulated internet gaming market in Ontario, its home territory.

“Launching theScore Bet in Ontario will mark an exciting expansion of our online gaming business into a major new market where we already have an established mobile sports media product in theScore app and a wide base of loyal users.

“Today’s news is very exciting, and I would like to recognize and congratulate the government of Ontario and the AGCO and iGaming Ontario for their dedication to creating a modern open and regulated sports betting and igaming market.”

Echoing the thoughts of Snowden, theScore’s CEO, John Levy, also commended the Ontario government’s “tireless efforts” throughout the regulation progress.

“The AGCO and iGaming Ontario have been thoughtful and collaborative in their approach to creating and managing this new industry, and the result is a soon-to-be-launched framework that will bring widespread benefits to Ontarians and establish Ontario as one of the biggest and most important regulated gaming markets in North America,” praised Levy.

“We will be ready to launch theScore Bet in Ontario on April 4 and could not be more excited to finally offer our best-in-class mobile sports betting and igaming experience to customers in our home province.”

theScore Bet previously announced that it received Gaming Labs International certification for Ontario, evidencing gaming platform compliance with the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming which satisfied a key pre-launch requirement.

However, The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) has strongly condemned the Ontario government’s plans to launch igaming.

The MSIFN stated the decision will “devastate” its economy and “set back decades of community development efforts”, adding that contrary to section 35 of Canada’s Constitution, the Ford government “utterly failed to hold formal consultations with indigenous governments – a violation of its duty to consult and accommodate impacted indigenous groups”.

Kelly LaRocca, Chief of MSIFN, commented: “Today’s announcement by the Ford government is a slap in the face of First Nations, and reduces their promises of reconciliation to a joke.

“The government completely and utterly failed to consult our First Nation – leaving their igaming launch open to constitutional challenge. We intend to challenge the province’s igaming scheme in court.”

The MSIFN noted that, according to research by gaming experts, the government’s decision will “strip millions of dollars from municipalities and First Nations across Ontario as well as the province’s own coffers” and puts more than 2,500 well-paying jobs at risk.

LaRocca added: “The Ford government has recklessly ignored our concerns and has not offered any strategies to address the impact that their inadequate plan will have on our First Nation, our culture and our ability to provide services to our community.

“It is a real and significant threat. It will not stand. If the Ford government is not willing to address the harms caused by its decision, we will have to make them accountable, in an election year.”