Chapter 1: Regulatory Framework

1.1.0. Introduction

The lottery licensing policies in this manual were developed by the Registrar, based on authority and direction flowing from:

Each type of licensed lottery is governed by a specific set of rules known as “terms and conditions.”


In Canada, all authority to license gaming activity flows from provisions in the Criminal Code (Canada), which makes it possible for eligible charitable and religious organizations to conduct and manage lottery schemes under a licence issued by the appropriate provincial authority.

Based on the authority conferred by the Criminal Code, the Government of Ontario has passed an Order- in-Council 1413/08, delegating its authority to license charitable gaming events to:

  • the Registrar, and
  • municipal councils.

The Registrar has the authority to license all types of approved lottery events. Municipal councils may license certain types of approved lottery events.


The responsibility for gaming in Ontario has been divided into three main areas: regulation, licensing of charitable gaming, and conduct and management.

(A) Regulation

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for regulating:

  • commercial gaming (including casinos and internet gaming);
  • charity casinos;
  • slot machine facilities at racetracks; and
  • charitable gaming.

(B) Licensing of charitable gaming

The Registrar as well as municipal councils may issue charitable gaming licences, as outlined in this manual.

(C) Conduct and management

The Ontario Lottery Gaming Corporation (OLG) is responsible for the conduct and management of:

  • commercial casinos;
  • internet gaming;
  • charity casinos;
  • electronic bingo centres; and
  • slot machines at racetracks.

Where a charitable or religious organization is licensed, it too may conduct and manage a lottery scheme.

1.2.1. The Regulatory Framework

The current regulatory framework is based on six key elements :

  1. the Criminal Code (Canada)
  2. the Gaming Control Act, 1992 and its Regulations
  3. the Order-in-Council 1413/08
  4. the terms and conditions
  5. Standards and Directives issued by the Registrar
  6. the Lottery Licensing Policy Manual, together with all updates and information bulletins.

1.2.1 (A) The Criminal Code (Canada)

Eligible charitable and religious organizations may conduct and manage lottery schemes under a licence issued by the appropriate provincial authority under an exception to the Criminal Code (Canada) general prohibition on gambling.

In this manual the term “charitable” includes both “charitable and religious” organizations as referred to in the Criminal Code (Canada).

1.2.1 (B) The Gaming Control Act, 1992

The Gaming Control Act, 1992 regulates the commercial sector of the charitable gaming industry. Among other things, the Act details:

  • the requirement to register individuals, corporations, organizations, associations and partnerships that supply gaming services or goods to licensed charitable organizations
  • the registration process
  • the types of goods and services that may be provided
  • the manner in which goods and services may be provided
  • reporting responsibilities
  • the Registrar’s authority to establish standards and requirements for the conduct, management and operation of gaming sites or lottery schemes under the Act; and
  • the registration appeal process.

The Lieutenant Governor in Council may make Regulations prescribing anything required under the Act. For example, the Regulations currently in force establish such things as exemption from registration, classes of registrants and terms of registration.

1.2.1 (C) Order-in-Council 1413/08

The Order-in-Council :

  • defines the roles and responsibilities of municipal councils and the Registrar; and
  • outlines the authority of the Registrar and municipalities to license and regulate certain lottery events.

It also provides broad policies for the administration of lottery events and general terms and conditions for the conduct of lotteries.

The Order-in-Council does the following:

  • stipulates that proceeds from licensed lottery schemes must be used only for a charitable or religious object providing a direct benefit to the residents of Ontario
  • outlines certain standard licence requirements
  • gives the Registrar authority to attach terms and conditions to any licence
  • ​gives a municipal council authority to attach terms and conditions to any licence it issues, provided these do not conflict with those of the Registrar
  • gives the Registrar and municipal councils authority to refuse, suspend or cancel a licence, under specified circumstances.

(You can review the Order-in-Council in its entirety on the AGCO website.)

1.2.1 (D) Terms and conditions

The Registrar issues a specific set of rules, known as the terms and conditions, to regulate each type of licensed lottery event. The terms and conditions provide detailed instructions for the conduct and management of licensed lottery events. For example, the terms and conditions govern:

  • the role of the licensee
  • the types and amounts of prizes to be awarded
  • rules of play
  • licence fees
  • banking guidelines
  • reporting requirements.

The Registrar may impose additional terms and conditions on any lottery licence, as necessary. A municipal council may impose additional terms and conditions on any lottery licence it issues, provided they do not conflict with those of the Registrar. Licensees must observe all the terms and conditions of their lottery licence.

1.2.1 (E) Standards and Directives issued by the Registrar

The Registrar may issue Standards and Directives that must be followed by licensees and registrants.

1.2.1 (F) Lottery Licensing Policy Manual (LLPM)

This Lottery Licensing Policy Manual (LLPM) contains the policies and some of the procedures licensing officers must use when issuing and administering lottery licences. The policies are derived from the legislation and regulations to address specific aspects of lottery licensing to ensure consistency throughout the province. The manual is updated to contain any policy matters addressed in relevant Information Bulletins, Standards and Directives.

The AGCO also uses the LLPM to communicate changes in the Registrar’s policies and in the regulatory structures for lottery licensing.

1.3.1. The Roles Of The Registrar

The AGCO was established under the Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996. Order-in-Council 1413/08 gives the Registrar authority to administer the lottery licensing provisions of the Criminal Code (Canada) for the Province of Ontario.

The Registrar’s areas of authority include such things as issuing registrations under the Gaming Control Act, 1992; the issuance, suspension and cancellation of gaming licences; conducting inspections; setting standards; requiring reporting for licensees; and setting fees and terms and conditions on licences.


1.4.1. The Roles of Municipalities

1.4.1 (A) Issuing lottery licences

Municipal councils have the authority to issue licences for most lottery events conducted in their communities, including:

  • bingo events with prize boards of up to $5,500
  • non-electronic raffles with prizes of up to $50,000
  • break open ticket events that are not conducted in conjunction with another licensed gaming event, and where the tickets are sold within the municipality
  • bazaar gaming events
  • media bingo.

1.4.1 (B) Municipal administrative responsibilities

As long as it does not contravene criteria established by the Registrar, a municipal council may develop additional criteria, through bylaws and policies, for making licensing decisions and administering lottery licensing in their municipality.

Municipalities must also:

  • report any information required by the Registrar
  • enforce licensing policies
  • ensure that licensees comply with the terms and conditions of their licences
  • investigate any breaches of the terms and conditions.

A municipal council may refuse, suspend or cancel licences, in accordance with the Order-in-Council and the Registrar’s policies. The AGCO is available to assist the municipality in any compliance and investigation matters.

Municipalities that issue licences also must ensure that applicants are eligible for lottery licences (see Chapter 2); be fair and equitable when issuing licences; and remain satisfied that licensees continue to meet the requirements of the Criminal Code (Canada), the Order-in-Council and the terms and conditions of their licences.

1.5.1. Refusing, Cancelling Or Suspending A Licence

The Registrar or municipality may suspend or cancel lottery licences where:

  • there has been a breach of any term, condition, Directive or Standard
  • there are reasonable grounds to believe that the applicant or licensee will not conduct and manage the lottery scheme in accordance with law or with honesty and integrity
  • in its opinion it is in the public interest to do so
  • an applicant or licensee fails to submit financial reports or other information in accordance with the Registrar’s requirements.

The Registrar also has the power to refuse to issue a licence for the grounds set out in section 5 of the Order-in-Council or to suspend or cancel a licence issued by a municipal council.

If an organization continues to conduct lottery events after its licence has been suspended or cancelled, the lottery events will be illegal pursuant to the Criminal Code (Canada).

See Order-in-Council 1413/08, as well as 3.4.1, “Suspending or cancelling lottery licences,” and 5.11.1, “Requests to cancel raffle licences.”   

1.6.1. Enforcement and Compliance

Each municipality has the responsibility to investigate any contraventions of the terms and conditions of a licence it issues. A municipality may request the assistance of the local police force or the AGCO.

Municipalities have the authority to:

  • investigate suspected contraventions of the terms and conditions of the licensed lottery scheme
  • investigate suspected financial and management improprieties of licensed organizations and persons
  • conduct audits of licensed organizations.

In addition to the above, the Registrar has the authority to:

  • conduct investigations under the Gaming Control Act, 1992
  • assist municipalities/local enforcement agencies in any investigation or audit of a licence.

1.7.1. Guiding Principles

In order to ensure that lottery licensing is administered fairly and consistently, lottery licensing decisions must be guided by the following fundamental principles:

  1. Consider the needs of the community as a whole. All eligible organizations must have fair access to gaming opportunities.
  2. Consider both the viability of a proposed lottery scheme and the applicant’s ability to execute the scheme.
  3. Lottery proceeds must only be used for the direct delivery of eligible charitable programs and services, as stated on the licence application and approved by the licensing authority.