Why Does Ontario Require a Separate Gambling License From the Rest of Canada?


Gambling has been a popular pastime in Canada. The fun activity was introduced in the country by its first settlers. Since then, it has been in an unbelievable evolution.

The Canadian government has made efforts to legalize gambling. Thanks to this, the gambling arena in the country has been rapidly growing. From land-based casinos to online platforms, player options are increasing every year..

However, while Ontario is part of Canada, running an iGaming site here requires a separate license. Thus, the province has a commission that regulates iGaming platforms. Why is that so? We’ll see that soon.

Ontario is an independent province with its government. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario licenses and regulates gambling here. Hence, you will need a license from AGCO to enter the Ontario market.

History of Gambling in Canada

Gambling in Canada started decades ago. Canadians would use sticks for gaming and betting. However, in 1497, settlers on transit introduced playing cards. 

This move played a crucial role in the development of gambling in the country. After their introduction, early versions of card games like poker and blackjack developed. As the evolution of gaming continued, dice and barbotte came up.

Government’s intervention

All this time, gambling was free-style in Canada. But the government focused more on the gambling industry in the late 1900s. The intention was to regulate the industry and limit it somewhat.

This brought about complaints from players who wanted unlimited gaming freedom. Luckily, in 1970, the government delegated the regulation roles to provinces. Each province was given the power to craft its own rules.

The move allowed many investors to launch as many casinos as they deemed fit. Besides, punters in the country could frequent the betting spots. The first casino was built in 1989 in Winnipeg. 

After that, many other casinos followed in other provinces. Racetracks continued growing and became the most popular betting form. Note that many racetracks had been built before that. 

Most provinces allowed the installation of video lottery terminals to generate revenue. Also, horse tracks and live casinos were allowed to operate.

However, the gambling industry remained primarily land-based. With the advancement in tech, there was a need to shift focus. Hence, individual provinces worked on legalizing internet gaming.

Ontario Internet Gaming Launch and Regulation

In April 2022, Ontario launched the first internet gaming market in Canada. Following the launch, iGaming Ontario (iGO) was introduced. Simply put, iGaming Ontario is a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO).

Together with the government, the commissions seek to promote responsible gambling. Any investor seeking to operate in Ontario must get a license from the iGaming Ontario Commission. 

Notably, this commission is guided by four main objectives:

  • Consumer choice
  • Legal market growth
  • Consumer protection
  • Provincial returns

iGaming Ontario Licensing Requirements

Like international gambling licenses, the iGaming Ontario license has its demands. All operators must undertake a know your customer (KYC) verification. In addition, they should adhere to all anti-money laundering requirements. 

To satisfy identity verification, investors can use credit files. The information should originate from a certified credit bureau in Canada. Moreover, the bureau should have been in operation for at least 3 years.

Further, the information gathered for KYC checks should come from two sources. You must also match the name and address or birth date.

Alternatively, current authentic government documents can work. But the provided name and image must match the government document.

Ontario License Application and Fees

Ontario is the first province to establish its iGaming platform. The iGaming market in the province is regulated by AGCO. But the commission has delegated iGaming Ontario with management of the iGaming market.

Potential operators are therefore required to acquire licenses. Applications can be submitted through the regulator’s online portal. To prepare themselves for registration, operators can access application guidelines from AGCO.

With the application, prospective gaming operators should submit the following official documents:

  • Entity level and personal disclosures
  • Constituting files
  • Diagram displaying all shareholders and the applicant corporation. 
  • Tax assessments and returns
  • Financial statements
  • The gaming site wireframe
  • Financial statements. 

Moreover, site operators are required to pay $100 000 every year. The sum is a regulatory fee and is paid per site. If you hold more than one site, you will incur more costs.

The regulatory fee is paid when submitting the application at AGCO. In addition, operators are not entitled to offer players gaming hardware. These include tablets giving access to the betting site at physical premises. 

Top 3 iGaming Sites with Ontario License

Regulation of igaming allowed private entities to enter the Ontario gaming market. Since then, the market has experienced a surge. Below are some of the top casinos in Ontario.

BetMGM Casino Ontario

BetMGM has been at the top of the market in the US for long. It is operational in several states, including New Jersey and West Virginia. All across, the site is trendy. 

Entain and MGM Resorts International jointly own BetMGM. The joint owners operate other top sites independently. Interestingly, BetMGM has enlisted Wayne Gretzky as its brand ambassador in Ontario.

Apart from the casino, BetMGM has also launched a sportsbook in Ontario. To that end, the platform is the biggest and most popular.

When it comes to game selection, BetMGM stands out. You will have access to over 700 games. Without a doubt, the catalog is well packed to keep you entertained all day long.

The games are sourced from top software providers in the market. Besides, they are well sorted for a hassle-free experience.

Talking about customer service, you will experience greatness. The site’s FAQ section is well loaded, so you rarely miss a solution. What’s more, the site features an ever-ready support team.

Dream Vegas Casino Ontario

If glamor and class are your thing, Dream Vegas is perfect. Owned by Malta-based White Hat Gaming, the casino is simply magnificent. Besides Dream Vegas, the operator runs other reputable sites. 

Dream Vegas is not new in Ontario. Before the launch of the iGaming market, the casino was existent. Hence, the casino relaunched after the market formation. 

Dream Vegas stands out for its game variety. You will have access to an impressive games catalog with over 1000 games. For diversity, the casino features a mix of software providers. It is rare to miss your favorite title here.

888 Casino Ontario 

888 Casino was one of the first gaming sites to launch in Ontario. Like many other casinos, 888 was operating in the gray market. The site just relaunched after the iGaming market launch.

The company is Ontario-based and was launched in the 1990s. Besides the casino, the brand also operates an online sportsbook. 

The games catalog is a key attribute for the casino. You will find an impressive list of over 2000 games. What’s more, the games are sourced from the best software suppliers.

Talking about banking, you will like it. Players have access to multiple banking methods. In addition, payments are processed fairly.

Final Words

Canada is one of the major online gambling markets. New casinos launch every year, so the market is rapidly growing. However, each new online casino in Canada must comply with the regulations of the particular province it’s launching.

In Ontario, for example, a casino must acquire a license from the AGCO. And since Ontario launched internet gaming in the province officially, the casino must comply with all established rules. That’s why Ontario requires a separate gambling license from the rest of Canada.


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