The news this month that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) fined PointsBet Canada $150,000 for failing to meet Ontario’s responsible gambling requirements certainly set off alarm bells.
The penalty related to several alleged violations of the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, including “failing to appropriately intervene and provide assistance to a player who was potentially experiencing gambling harms.” In this case a player lost over $500,000 in under three months.
Those in the middle of Ontario’s iGaming regulatory regime have said all along that player safety has been a bedrock concern. Capturing the revenue that was lost for decades to the grey market was one thing. Getting players who might be losing control some help was another priority.
Province Seeks ‘Centralized Self-Exclusion Solution’
So news this week that iGaming Ontario, the subsidiary of the AGCO that conducts and manages Ontario online casinos, was requesting proposals in early 2024 for a “centralized self-exclusion solution that will enable a player to self-exclude from all Ontario regulated iGaming operators in a single registration process,” according to a statement, was the next chapter in all this.
The successful bidder will be expected to develop and implement a system that integrates with all operators’ systems, including Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s online gaming site, that supports players’ self-exclusion registration, renewal and reinstatement.
According to a statement, iGO said the core principles for such a program will include providing options to players to support their commitment to take a break from Ontario casino apps. The stated aim is to create a program that is non-judgmental and supportive, with clear, comprehensive information to help ensure expectations and consequences for players and operators. Ensuring that player information is protected is also key, with strong processes and procedures bolstered by secure, responsive technology. Systems and procedures must be manageable for operators to implement.
Those companies interested are asked to register on iGaming Ontario’s MERX platform in early 2024 to review the RFP and participate in the bidding process. The nation’s largest province launched legal, regulated online casinos as well as Ontario sports betting in April 2022.
What Other Provinces Are Doing
Other provinces have similar self-exclusion programs in place. British Columbia Lottery Corporation announced last May that it was enhancing identification requirements for individuals enrolled in its self-exclusion program. The province provides the opportunity to voluntarily and confidentially take a break from bricks and mortar gambling facilities and/or online gambling (which in B.C. is the PlayNow.com website).
Those that enroll in Game Break are self-excluding. The objective is for people to feel more in control by taking extended breaks from gambling if they feel gambling is bringing too much stress on finances or relationships, or if individuals simply want to change their gambling habits.