21 Mar

Local iGaming Touted as the ‘Safer Choice’ for Ontarians

Province Encourages Locals to Gamble Safely Online from Ontario

Province Encourages Locals to Gamble Safely Online from OntarioThere are two very good reasons why the government of Ontario is choosing to regulate internet gambling. The first reason – the one their touting the most heavily – is that it offers locals a safer way to bet on the web. The second one – discussed primarily behind closed doors – is that it generates a great deal of money for the provincial tax coffers. Keep Ontarians safe, and collect money – what’s not to like about that?

In the following paragraphs, we’ll tell you just how Ontario intends to keep players safe through its iGaming Ontario campaign. We’ll also compare the impending “local” market to the well-established international market Canadians have been accessing for the last 25 years. Consider it an exercise in the proliferation of the public’s right to know.

Gamble Safely Online at Ontario iGaming Sites

According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), public safety is primary catalyst behind the province’s expansion of internet gaming (aka iGaming) regulation. Ontario has been hosting its PlayOLG iGaming website since 2015, but with no competition to spur competitive marketing promotions, it hasn’t been all that successful. Now, with private operators vying for licences, the government is hoping its “safer choice” campaign will appeal to more iGamers.

Make the safer choice and play on sites offered by fully registered and authorized Operators in Ontario.”

This is the statement highlighting the main page of the AGCO’s iGaming Ontario website. Short and to the point, it impresses upon visitors how local authorization ensures safety. But how exactly does it do it?

Bolstering the Benefits of a Regulated iGaming Market

On its iGaming Ontario website, the province details exactly what makes regulation so important to players. Regulation of iGaming “means that the provincial government has instituted rules to determine what organizations may operate legally” within the market. The iGO compares this to the alcohol and cannabis industries. They also require authorization and licensing to operate and ensure the safety of their products.

Sideline Note: In part, the iGO’s comparison is valid. Without regulatory compliance, there’s no way to ensure that moonshine or cannabis from an unauthorized source is safe to consume. Judiciously, however, the comparison is fallacious. Selling alcohol or marijuana without a license is expressly illegal. International websites that accept Canadians player deposits and wagers are not breaking any laws. But I digress…

In order for any private company to receive a license to operate in Ontario’s upcoming iGaming market, that company must first undergo and pass “rigorous standards of game integrity, fairness, player protections and social responsibility”. Compliance with regulatory laws requires integration of tools to prevent access by minors, and additional measures to promote responsible gambling, including anti-money laundering policies and procedures.

Are Ontario’s Laws Stricter than International Laws?

No. As a matter of fact, no jurisdiction enforces greater player protections than the UK. Ontario’s laws are similar. However, the UK Gambling Commission has a proven track record for identifying and heavily fining any operator that fails to pass compliance testing.

This fact was proven on March 1, 2022, when the UKGC penalized the 888 online casino company £9.4m (CA$13.06m). The reason for the fine – 888’s second since 2017 – was defined as, “social responsibility and money laundering failings”. On top of the levy, the UKGC gave 888 an “official warning”, and ordered the operator to undergo “extensive independent auditing”.

Just two days later, 888 was granted a license to operate in Ontario.

The point isn’t that Ontario won’t do a good job. It’s that Ontario claims international casinos aren’t able to protect players. This simply isn’t the case. However, there are some good point made by iGO in regards to its effort to help Ontarians “play with confidence”.

No Due Diligence Required

As a long-time promoter of global gambling websites, the authors of this very website have many times iterated the importance of due diligence in selecting a safe, secure website to gamble at. We understand as well as anyone how important it is to gamble with reputable operators. We’ve gone to great lengths to teach our readers how to determine the safety of online casinos before signing up, and how to spot a rogue operator before making a deposit.

What the regulation of a competitive iGaming market in Ontario brings to the table is the ability to forgo due diligence. The fact that these websites have authorization from Ontario means the province has already done the leg work. They are safe. The games are fair. Your personal and financial information will be secure. And your winnings will arrive in a timely manner.

This is most definitely the top reason for supporting Ontario’s home-grown iGaming market. You have nothing to fear when choosing any Ontario licensed gambling websites. If anything does go wrong, your very own provincial government will be there to crack the whip and set things right.

The government of Ontario is confident that its competitive market will finally accomplish one very important goal; attracting the majority of the province’s iGamers, and that it will benefit both the province, and the players themselves. A statement on the iGaming Ontario website encouragingly reads:

The province will greatly benefit from more players choosing to play locally rather than in the grey market. Players will appreciate the knowledge that strict measures are in place to protect their finances and personal information.”

Ontario’s “Safer Choice” Coming April 4, 2022

iGaming Ontario is set to launch the services of at least a dozen online gambling operators exactly two weeks from now, on April 4, 2022. Operators that have already been approved to participate in the market (and are expected to launch on day one) include 888 Casino, Poker, and Sportsbook, Bet365, BetRivers Casino & Sportsbook, GGPoker, WSOP, among others.

Note that Ontario’s iGaming market is ring-fenced in nature. That means only residents of Ontario (of legal age, of course) can participate. No foreign customers or Canadians outside of Ontario can join, deposit, or play for real money. Should other Canadian provinces choose to follow Ontario’s footsteps and open a competitive market, there is potential for player sharing down the road. Until then, it is for Ontarians only.

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