A key stated objective of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has always been to move Ontario online casinos and suppliers into the province’s regulated market as seamlessly as possible.
Registration with the AGCO happens first, then operators need to execute an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario before they go live and take bets.
The application process opened in September 2021, and the market went live in April. Yet there still are a number of operators who didn’t make the AGCO’s Oct. 31 deadline to join the regulated market.
The AGCO confirmed to Ontario Bets that 28 of the 36 operators currently live and regulated were previously active in the unregulated space, or gray market, for casino apps Ontario.
AGCO: 17 Operators Leave Unregulated Market
The AGCO also confirmed that 17 additional operators exited the unregulated market in response to Standard 1.22, which ends the transition period for unregulated operators and suppliers.
That means their sites went black.
Those operators who didn’t comply with Standard 1.22 risk the AGCO taking “appropriate regulatory action when dealing with non-compliance, including enforcement measures when appropriate.”
Operators still working through the application process would certainly put those applications at risk if they stayed live.
That brings us to BetRegal, one of the operators still working through their application with the AGCO. They took their Ontario site down, so they are one of the 17 who left the unregulated market.
What makes the BetRegal situation interesting is that they are the official sports gaming partner of the CFL, as well as having a sports betting partnership with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as well as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Since the operator has not been able to offer live betting to CFL fans, and with the CFL playoffs about to happen, it makes one wonder about the solidity of those relationships. A key term there is: The BetRegal deal with the CFL is two years plus an option, and the deals with the Ticats and Bombers are each for three years.
Process for BetRegal in Ontario Gaming
Ontario Bets reached out to BetRegal CEO Mike Mirtl. He said in a statement:
“Our application with the AGCO is active and pending, as we have been required to complete and provide additional requirements prior to approval. We anticipate that our approval into the market will allow us to build upon the great relationships we have already established with key partners in Ontario.
“For context, we restricted customers inside and from Ontario as requested by the AGCO and their compliance standard for pending applicants,” Mirtl continued. “The rest of Canada remains available and has not affected those in other provinces. Upon registrar approval we expect to be back in the Ontario market with a bigger presence and eager to bring a truly Canadian sports betting solution to Ontario.
“Our CFL partnership remains a cornerstone of our strategy in Canada. We made an early commitment and have been steadfast in our support of the CFL in the midst of the pandemic and before legal sports betting framework was in place. We have terrific relationships with club partners and expect to continue along with our league agreement into next season, while under license.
“We’re excited to be in Regina and will have a presence at the Grey Cup as part of our exclusive partnership. We look forward to our go-live date to continue our growth under license, and to continue building our uniquely Canadian footprint in Ontario and beyond.”
Hamilton Tiger-Cats Seek Better Fan Experience
The CFL did not return a request for comment regarding the Ontario sports betting front. TigerCats president and COO Matt Afinec said:
“As we entered the 2022 CFL season we were looking for a strategic long-term partner in the sports gaming category. With BetRegal we share the commitment to finding new innovative ways to enhance the fan experience and deliver our fans more unique content.
“While some of the concepts have been put on hold as they work under BetRegal.net and both parties ensure we operate under AGCO guidelines, we are looking forward to fully activating the partnership in 2023 including investments in gameday experiences and community.”
If there’s one thing about the Ontario iGaming market: It’s huge and it’s fluid.
To compare Ontario sportsbook apps for yourself, bookmark OntarioBets.com before placing a wager.