Overview

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is an Ontario provincial regulatory agency reporting to the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG).  It is a corporation under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act, 2019.

The AGCO is responsible for regulating the alcohol, gaming horse racing and cannabis retail sectors in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and in the public interest.  In so doing, the AGCO administers the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, the Gaming Control Act, 1992, and the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 and the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018. The AGCO also administers the charity lottery licensing Order-in-Council 1413/08.

View the Organizational Structure of the AGCO.

Background

The AGCO was established on February 23, 1998 under the Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996 (ACGRPPA). The AGCO assumed responsibility for the administration of legislation previously administered by the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Gaming Control Commission.

On April 1, 2016, the AGCO assumed responsibility for regulating horse racing under the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015.

On September 25, 2018, the AGCO assumed responsibility for regulating privately run recreational cannabis retail stores under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018.

On November 29, 2021, ACGRPPA was repealed and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act, 2019 (AGCO Act) was proclaimed into force, continuing the AGCO under a separate corporate statute.  

On November 29, 2021, the Liquor Licence and Control Act (LLCA) came into force to rationalize the regulatory framework found in the Liquor Licence Act and parts of the Liquor Control Act into a new and modern framework for the sale, service and delivery of beverage alcohol in Ontario.  

Regulatory bodies prior to the AGCO  

Liquor Licence Board of Ontario: Established in 1947 under the Liquor Licence Act, the Liquor Licence Board of Ontario was responsible for regulating the sale, service and consumption of beverage alcohol in Ontario to promote moderation and responsible use. 

Gaming Control Commission: The Gaming Control Commission was established under the Gaming Control Act, 1992 (GCA) in 1994. The Commission was responsible for the regulation of charitable and casino gaming, for ensuring that those people and companies involved in casino and charitable gaming satisfy high standards of honesty, integrity and financial responsibility, and that games of chance are conducted fairly.

Ontario Racing Commission: Originally established in 1950 under the Racing Commission Act, the Ontario Racing Commission was responsible for regulating the horse racing industry in the public interest and in accordance with the principles of honesty, integrity, and social responsibility. In 2000, the Government of Ontario passed new legislation called the Racing Commission Act, 2000, which converted the Commission to a self-financing regulatory agency with a governing board.

Key Activities

The AGCO conducts the following activities to fulfill its regulatory mandate:

Regulating Ontario’s Alcohol, Gaming, Horse Racing and Cannabis Retail Sectors

  • Licensing and regulating establishments that sell or serve liquor, liquor delivery services, liquor manufacturers, their representatives and representatives of foreign manufacturers, and ferment on premise facilities.
  • Administering the Special Occasion Permit program.
  • Licensing manufacturers’ retail stores, which includes retail stores on the productions sites of wineries, distilleries and breweries, off-site winery retail stores and Brewers Retail Inc. stores (“The Beer Store”).
  • Licensing grocery stores to retail liquor to the public.
  • Registering operators, suppliers, retailers/sellers and gaming assistants in the lottery and gaming sectors.
  • Administering, in partnership with municipalities and First Nations licensing authorities, the regulatory framework governing the issuance of charity lottery licences (e.g. bingo, raffle and break open ticket events).
  • Licensing games of chance at fairs and exhibitions.
  • Approving rules of play or changes to rules of play for games of chance conducted and managed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).
  • Excluding persons from accessing gaming premises in Ontario pursuant to the Gaming Control Act, 1992.
  • Regulating the conduct of horse racing conducted at Ontario’s licensed racetracks through the Rules of Racing for Thoroughbred, Standardbred and Quarter Horse breeds, and exercising authority for the overall governance of horse racing in Ontario.
  • Promoting safety and consistency for both horse racing participants and the equine athletes.
  • Licensing individuals and businesses involved in the horse racing industry, including the processing of applications from racing participants and for racetracks and teletheatre locations and conducting due diligence reviews and investigations of applicants for registration.
  • Licensing eligible Cannabis Retail Store Operators and Managers, authorizing Cannabis Retail Stores, approving Cannabis retail employee training programs and regulating the sale of recreational cannabis through privately run stores.

Compliance Activities

  • Inspecting and monitoring licensed establishments to ensure compliance with the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019 (LLCA) and its regulations, and standards and requirements established by the Registrar.
  • Inspecting and monitoring licensed grocery stores for compliance with the LLCA, its regulations, standards and requirements established by the Registrar and relevant terms and conditions.
  • Inspecting and monitoring casinos, charitable gaming events/facilities and retail locations where OLG lottery products are sold for compliance with the Gaming Control Act, 1992 and its regulation, licence/registration requirements and standards and requirements established by the Registrar.
  • Testing, approving and monitoring slot machines and gaming and lottery management systems.
  • Proactively providing education to all sectors and to those who are regulated, to increase their understanding of regulatory obligations and to improve overall compliance.
  • Investigating alleged horse racing violations, horse abuse, race fixing or other racing and rule infractions, as well as investigating horse deaths.
  • Ensuring an Official Veterinarian is in attendance to supervise live racing and confirm that horses are healthy and fit to race.
  • Monitoring and enforcing the Equine Medication and Drug Control Program including identification and investigation of people and businesses involved directly and indirectly with illegal equine medication and drugs, as well as identifying new and unknown drugs and medication being used in horse racing.
  • Administering and overseeing the Human Alcohol and Drug Program designed to detect and deter substance abuse and to offer programs of intervention, rehabilitation and support to those identified as having substance abuse problems.
  • Supporting the health and welfare of horses and horse racing participants.
  • Undertaking a range of compliance activities related to authorized cannabis retail stores to ensure their compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulation and the Registrar’s Standards.

Appeals

  • Hearing appeals of rulings made by Judges, Stewards and Racing Officials under the Rules of Racing (note this responsibility lies with the Horse Racing Appeal Panel, which is an independent adjudicative tribunal, the members of which are appointed by the AGCO Board).

Arbitration

  • Conducting arbitration of lottery disputes.

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