2018-2019 Annual Report

Coat of Arms and AGCO logo

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

90 Sheppard Ave E., Suite 200

Toronto, ON, M2N 0A4

(416) 326-8700




ISSN: 1911-9038 (Online)

© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2019

Memorandum to The Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General

Memorandum to: The Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General

From: Lalit Aggarwal, Chair, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

I am pleased to present the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s Annual Report covering the period April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.


<Original signed by>

Lalit Aggarwal

Chair's Message

In the face of change, it is those who tackle challenges with great optimism that are able to produce even greater successes.

Another wonderful year has come and gone in my tenure as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). For the agency, it has been another exciting period of growth and development and of responding and adapting to change. As always, the AGCO has exceeded its expectations and proven itself to be the world-class regulator it is known to be. It is a visionary, strong, innovative and resilient agency that I am very proud and honoured to lead.

Over the past two decades, the AGCO’s creative and effective response to the drivers of change and the shifting needs of its stakeholders has allowed it to pursue an aggressive, progressive and forward-looking agenda. In the face of constant change, the agency has repeatedly risen to any challenges thrown its way. Ongoing operations were maintained while new initiatives were embarked upon. The success of the transformative changes was assessed and tweaks to agency policies and programs and/or day-to-day operations were made as necessary. The health of internal relations (with staff/OPSEU and the Board) and of external ones (with government, industry and the public) were always nurtured, and are strong and positive as a result.

This fiscal year, the terms of two Board members, Linda Nagel and Jane Holmes, expired (in December 2018 and January 2019, respectively). Both Linda and Jane were extremely talented, diligent and responsive Board members. Their strong contributions to the Board’s work will be missed and they are wished the very best in their future endeavours.

In turn, the Board saw two new Board members enter its ranks: Dave Forestell and Philip Leong (also in December 2018 and January 2019, respectively). Both Dave and Philip possess extensive and skilled backgrounds and have quickly become highly engaged and involved Board members. They are welcomed as they assume the important responsibilities of an AGCO Board member.

I cannot close without thanking everyone at the AGCO for their continual and invaluable support to me and the Board. As I have written about and said many times before, ultimately, the strength of the AGCO is its people. You are Simply. The. Best!


<Original signed by>

S. Grace Kerr

Chief Executive Officer’s Message

A Year of Change and Transformation

The AGCO is Ontario’s regulator for the sale and service of alcohol, for lottery and gaming, for horse racing and most recently for the private retailing of cannabis. Like other government services, we are living in a time when industry and citizen expectations for sensible, responsive and digitally enabled government services continue to grow. The AGCO has long been at the forefront of modern industry regulation and, over this past year, we were well positioned to regulate new and rapidly evolving sectors.

This 2018-2019 annual report details the efforts of this agency over the past fiscal year, during which we reached several milestones in our continual approach to modernize our business processes and optimize service delivery.

  • As of January 2019, AGCO customers now conduct all of their liquor, cannabis, lottery and most of their gaming-related transactions online. Our iAGCO online service delivery portal provides a quicker, easier, more convenient way to apply for and manage licences, authorizations, registrations and permits, anytime from anywhere. Over this last fiscal year, a rapidly growing number of customers conducted their transactions with the AGCO online, with many experiencing quicker turnaround times through automatic approvals and renewals. iAGCO survey respondents reported a 93% satisfaction rate with this online channel.
  • Ontario’s horse racing participants are now better protected thanks to new health and safety measures introduced by the AGCO this past year, including a race-day medication ban for horses and the launch of a pilot protocol to ensure jockeys diagnosed with a concussion are fully recovered before they return to racing. These measures, based on ongoing engagement with horse racing stakeholders, demonstrate our commitment to modern industry reforms.
  • We also launched new reforms to electronic raffles, providing Ontario charities with greater flexibility and increased opportunities to raise funds for their important causes.

Our partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Bureau (through the Bureau assigned to the AGCO) continued to build on the effectiveness of investigations and collaboration with law enforcement across the province. Having the provincial police service directly embedded within the AGCO’s operations is unique to these sectors in North America, helping to streamline, standardize and improve our investigative response while strengthening our efforts to ensure integrity and public safety in the sectors we regulate.

In our commitment to reducing the regulatory burden for customers, we began a transformation to improve outcomes that has already shown results. Our newly-created Value Task Force is refocusing and broadening our red tape reduction initiative to help us align with the government’s overall agenda. Its mandate to drive value, disrupt and remove obstacles is leveraging opportunities and accelerating work already underway in three major streams: regulatory burden, external services and internal services. We also continued our work towards our AGCO 2020 agenda, to accelerate efforts to modernize our compliance approach, the customer service experience we provide, and our people management approach while allowing us to maintain a meaningful regional presence and streamline the delivery of digital services. Customer service is a priority for the AGCO and we are committed to continuously improving the customer experience. For example, we have transitioned away from paper-based manual processes, to online digital channels that are quicker and more convenient for customers, as evidenced by our high satisfaction rates. In March 2019, we established a new Service Strategy and Experience Branch to further prioritize customers in our policy development, service design and delivery, and to drive higher rates of satisfaction. Also in development is the option to add a web chat channel to contact the AGCO.

In addition to all of this, over the past year we’ve continued to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our regulatory oversight through the use of data analytics and regulatory intelligence to support evidence-based policy and program design.

The AGCO’s new role in the regulation of private cannabis retail became a key priority this year. We were able to quickly adopt this new line of business thanks to our experience working closely with government on public policy implementation, risk-based and outcomes-focused regulation, and established licensing and compliance monitoring processes.

2018-2019 was year of change and transformation for the AGCO, one in which staff responded to every challenge placed before them. I am proud of what we have collectively accomplished in such a short period. As I reflect on this agency’s efforts, it is only right to recognize the engagement, the dedication and the commitment of the entire AGCO team, from our Board of Directors to our front line staff and everyone in between. From the re-examination of our leadership culture, to the reimagining of our management approaches to the modernization of our service delivery, our journey continues. Along the way, we will continue to build this agency into the leading organization it needs to be in the future.

<Original signed by>

Jean Major
Chief Executive Officer

Board of Directors

The Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996 constitutes the AGCO as a corporation without share capital and requires that it have a Board of Directors of at least five members. Board members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, through Order-in-Council.

The Board is responsible for the overall governance of the AGCO and meets on a monthly basis. In exercising its governance functions, the Board sets goals and develops policy and strategic directions for the Commission to fulfill its mandate; this includes working with the Chief Executive Officer and Senior Management on Regulatory, Governance and Corporate Governance activities.

The list below reflects the members of the Board who served during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2019, including their original appointment dates.

Total per diems of all appointees for 2018-2019



First Appointed to Board

July 2007

Appointed Interim Vice-Chair (Part-time)

June 2013

Appointed Vice-Chair (Part-time)

December 2013

Acting Chair (Part-time)

February 2017

Appointed Chair (Part-time)

May 2017

Term Expires

May 2019




Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

July 2015

Term Expires

July 2020




Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

December 2018

Term Expires

December 2019


Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

January 2017

Term Expired

January 2019




Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

January 2019

Term Expires

January 2020




Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

December 2016

Term Expired

December 2018




Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

July 2015

Term Expires

July 2020


About the AGCO - Overview


A leader in the alcohol, gaming, horse racing and private cannabis retail sectors through effective regulation and services that are fair, responsive and in the broader public interest.


To regulate the alcohol, gaming, horse racing and private cannabis retail sectors in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and in the public interest.


The AGCO commits to conducting business in a manner that will:

  • Develop, implement and enforce fair policies and procedures
  • Establish a framework of critical regulatory controls in the public interest that are sensitive to the economic viability of the alcohol, gaming and horse racing industries
  • Be client focused in the way we respond to and manage client and stakeholder needs
  • Educate clients and stakeholders and develop partnerships
  • Create a supportive work environment that respects and values AGCO staff contributions and provides them with opportunities for growth and professional achievement

Governing Legislation

Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996, Regulations (141/01; 282/07)

Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, Regulation 468/18

Gaming Control Act, 1992, Regulation (78/12)

Liquor Licence Act, Regulations (58/00; 718/90; 719/90; 720/90; 70/09; 783/94; 389/91)

Wine Content and Labelling Act, 2000, Regulation (659/00)

Liquor Control Act, Section 3(1)b, e, f, g and 3(2)a Ontario Regulation 232/16

Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015

Order-in-Council 1413/08

Social Responsibility: Evolving Social Attitudes

With the evolving views of society and to better reflect the maturity of the industries it regulates, the AGCO continues to refine its role in the promotion of social responsibility in the alcohol, gaming, horse racing and cannabis sectors.

A focus on responsible gambling is a key factor in the public’s confidence in the gaming industry. The changing views of the liquor industry place a greater emphasis on responsible use and enjoyment. With the legalization of cannabis, the AGCO’s focus is to ensure that the retail sale of cannabis in Ontario is carried out with honesty, integrity and in the public interest.

Corporate Structure

The AGCO’s organizational structure is based on functional responsibilities and consists of six divisions, each led by a member of the Executive Committee that reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and Registrar. The Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) functions as an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Bureau assigned to the AGCO, and is headed by a Chief Superintendent of the OPP. The IEB is responsible for regulatory and criminal investigations, as well as sharing its expertise and information with external law enforcement and other regulatory and industry stakeholder agencies.

Organizational chart displaying the AGCO's divisions and Bureau.

Organizational Structure of the AGCO

  • Chair and Board of the AGCO                ■    Horse Racing Appeal Panel
    • Chief Executive Officer and Registrar
  • Communications and Corporate Affairs Division
    • ​Communications
    • Corporate Affairs and Governance
    • Corporate Secretariat
    • Service Strategy and Experience
  • Corporate Services Division
    • Finance and Administration
    • Human Resources
    • Information Technology
    • Risk Management, Internal Audit and Information Security
    • AGCO Next
  • Investigation and Enforcement Bureau
    • ​Investigations
    • Intelligence and Investigative Support
  • Legal Services Division
    • ​Litigation Services
    • Corporate Services
    • Advisory Services and Legal Drafting
  • Operations Division
    • ​Compliance Services
      • ​Audit and Financial Investigations
      • Regulatory Compliance
    • Licensing and Registration
      • ​Regulatory Assurance
      • Technical and Laboratory Services
  • Strategy and Policy Division
    • ​Change Management
    • Policy and Planning
    • Portfolio Program Management
    • Strategic Engagement
    • Regulatory Intelligence and Innovation


Brief Description of Corporate Structure and Function of AGCO Divisions

Operations Division

The Operations Division is responsible for licensing, registration and overall compliance for the liquor, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis sectors regulated by the AGCO under the Liquor Licence Act (LLA), the Gaming Control ActHorse Racing Licence Act (HRLA) and the Cannabis Licence Act.

The Division includes Compliance Services, which consists of the Audit and Financial Investigations Branch and the Regulatory Compliance Branch . These branches conduct regulatory compliance activities including education, planning and inspections along with audits and financial investigations across all lines of business. Equipping front-line staff with the knowledge and skills to deliver services to all sectors, Compliance Services is made up of regional, cross-functional Regulatory Compliance Teams who take a comprehensive, risk-based, outcomes-focused approach to regulatory compliance as well as centralized support for compliance programs and administration. Inspectors respond to compliance concerns when and where they occur, taking a multi-sector approach and maintaining a focus on supporting desired regulatory outcomes.

The Regulatory Compliance Branch also provides Racing Officials (Judges and Stewards) who supervise races conducted at Ontario’s licensed racetracks, as well as Veterinary Services which oversees the health and welfare of horses during racing. Veterinary Services work with the Official Veterinarians who work for the racetracks but are supervised by the AGCO.

The Division’s Technical and Laboratory Services staff assess and approve electronic games, systems and equipment against Ontario Technical Standards and assess supplier and OLG quality assurance and testing procedures.

The Regulatory Assurance Branch leads the development and implementation of tools, strategies and frameworks that drive the AGCO’s compliance-focused approach.

Strategy and Policy Division

The Strategy and Policy Division coordinates and supports a variety of strategic functions and informs regulatory direction through evidence-based policy making. Through the use of leading practices, it helps to ensure that major projects stay on track and outcomes are aligned to strategic goals. The Division implements a change management framework for the agency and supports the AGCO’s strategic goal of being a rewarding workplace. This Division also provides leadership for the execution of a dedicated, strategic approach to stakeholder engagement and for developing the AGCO’s Strategic and Corporate Plans.

Corporate Services Division

The Corporate Services Division provides strategic advice and guidance and is responsible for providing key support services such as Human Resources, including Labour Relations and Collective Bargaining, Information Technology, Finance and Administration, Information Security, Internal Audit and Enterprise Risk Management.

Communications and Corporate Affairs Division

The Communications and Corporate Affairs Division provides strategic communications advice and services, manages media relations and the AGCO’s public reputation, and oversees the development of internal and external communication materials and publications. It builds understanding and acceptance of organizational objectives and policy priorities through regular communication with staff and stakeholders. It also serves as the primary liaison with government to support government initiatives and to manage issues.

The Division also includes a newly formed Service Strategy and Experience Branch, which has initially been tasked with building off of, and seeing through, the objectives of Service Experience 2020. The Branch is focused on enhancing the AGCO’s service to its customers, across all lines of business and at every agency touchpoint.

The Corporate Secretariat responsible for Board support resides within this Division and assists the Board of Directors in fulfilling its policy and governance responsibilities. This includes ensuring that key corporate accountability measures are completed within government timelines and monitoring compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between government and the AGCO. Staff also provide administrative support to the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP).

Investigation and Enforcement Bureau

The OPP Investigation and Enforcement Bureau assigned to the AGCO is comprised of approximately 160 OPP Officers, fully integrated within the AGCO. OPP Inspectors and the AGCO Director of Intelligence and Investigative Support report directly to the Chief Superintendent. The Bureau’s branches conduct investigations across all lines of business regulated by the AGCO. It also provides investigative expertise and information sharing to other law enforcement services, regulatory and industry stakeholder agencies, and to ensure integrity and public safety within these regulated industries.

Legal Services Division

The Legal Services Division provides a broad range of legal services. It reviews Notices of Proposal, represents the Registrar and Deputy Registrar at hearings, provides advice and opinions to AGCO staff on corporate issues (e.g. privacy, freedom of information), drafts legislation and contracts, and assists in policy development. Counsel represent the Registrar at hearings before the Licence Appeal Tribunal and the Horse Racing Appeal Panel and prepare appeals to the Divisional Court and to the Court of Appeal.


AGCO Licensees and Registrants

AGCO licensees and registrants pie chart. Total number = 63,095. Gaming & lottery registrants = 29,829 or 47%. Alcohol licensees = 19,508 or 31%. Horse Racing licensees = 13,758 or 22%.

Approximately 64,200 Special Occasion Permits were issued by the AGCO in 2018-2019.

Strategic Direction

The AGCO has developed a Strategic Plan to support its role as an effective and modern regulator through an increasingly complex operating environment. The Plan acts as a blueprint to help the AGCO address the regulatory challenges and opportunities within the liquor, gaming, horse racing and cannabis retail sectors.

The AGCO Strategic Plan identifies the following five strategic goals:

  1. Modern Regulator
  2. Value for Money
  3. Strategic Engagement
  4. Quality Service Experience
  5. Rewarding Workplace

This diagram displays the AGCO's vision, mandate and five strategic goals.

Strategic Goals and Planning Themes

Vision:  A leader in the alcohol, gaming, horse racing and private cannabis retail sectors through effective regulation and services that are fair, responsive and in the broader public interest.

Mandate:  To regulate the alcohol, gaming, horse racing and private cannabis retail sectors in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and in the public interest.

Modern Regulator

  • Strategy driven organization   |   Risk and outcomes-based
  • Regulatory assurance strategy   |   Compliance-focused
    • Data and intelligence used
    • Effectiveness as a regulator demonstrated

Value for Money

  • Modern, integrated and streamlined organization
  • Accountable:
    • Clear board governance role
    • Robust performance measurement
    • Financially sustainable
  • Robust IT infrastructure

Strategic Engagement

  • Meaningful engagement to understand stakeholder perspectives and inform policies and programs
  • Strong and valued partnerships and alliances to improve regulatory outcomes 

Quality Service Experience

  • Strong service culture   |   Effective use of technology
    • Service experience is benchmarked and measured
    • Continuous improvement encouraged
    • Modern, responsive, streamlined service delivery approaches and channels

Rewarding Workplace

  • Top Employer
  • A diverse and inclusive workplace and workforce
  • Leadership, management, and professional skills are developed
  • Increased workforce mobility and flexibility

​The AGCO’s strategic goals are aligned with and support the achievement of key government objectives for enhanced accountability, efficiency and value for money in the delivery of public services. The goals also support evidence-based decision-making and policy development, and focus on minimizing the administrative burden, where possible, on those regulated by the AGCO. During 2018-2019, the AGCO made measurable progress towards achieving its strategic goals.

1. Modern Regulator

  • The Ontario provincial legislature passed the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, giving the AGCO the authority to license, regulate and enforce the sale of recreational cannabis through privately run stores in Ontario. For an update on this new AGCO role, see: Licensing and Regulation of Recreational Cannabis.
  • The AGCO worked with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) to implement the overall gaming modernization strategy, including transitioning new Casino Operators, and supporting key components of the OLG Player Platform and Lottery Modernization Strategy.
  • The AGCO amended policy in support of liquor modernization, including the harmonization of Sunday hours for liquor retailers to sell beverage alcohol from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. Ongoing strategic and operational advice was provided to government on proposed reforms to the liquor regulatory framework.
  • As part of the “Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario” project, and following consultation with Ontario’s horse racing industry, the AGCO implemented changes to the Equine Drug Program process and changes to the Rules of Racing, including the introduction of a Temperature Standard for Racetracks. The updated rulebooks were published in fall 2018. A Concussion Management standards-based rule is being piloted during the 2019 racing season.
  • The AGCO broadened the Electronic Raffle Regulatory Framework as part of the launch of Phase 2 in November 2018, to reduce the administrative burden on Ontario charities and religious organizations and provide them with greater flexibility when conducting and managing raffles.

2. Value for Money

  • The AGCO continued to focus on measuring performance and ensuring value for money in all programs implemented over the past year. For instance, overall customer satisfaction with iAGCO, the AGCO’s new automated online licensing and registration solution has exceeded the target, with 93% of customers indicating they are satisfied with the new system of contact. The AGCO’s efforts to reach out to stakeholders has also exceeded expectations, with a clear majority feeling engaged or highly engaged. For more information, see Table 3 – AGCO Performance Measures 2018-19.
  • Ongoing monitoring of the progress of the current Strategic Plan performance measures continued, with insights employed to better evaluate business performance and regulatory effectiveness.
  • A new Regulatory Intelligence and Innovation (RII) strategic framework was developed to further the AGCO’s capacity to generate and use data insights across the agency. As a result, the AGCO is now redesigning and implementing a comprehensive data-driven strategy to strengthen our regulatory approach towards impaired driving.
  • A renewed Education, Training, and Awareness (ETA) strategy was launched in 2018-19. This program supports AGCO’s regulatory assurance activities and fosters a proactive, compliance-focused culture within the industries it regulates by enhancing its planning and delivery of educational opportunities to support their compliance with relevant laws and regulations. As part of this renewed strategy, the AGCO has approved some 13 ETA projects, including a new initiative and partnership with Equine Guelph to develop online training in the area of horse welfare.
  • The AGCO leveraged risk management methodologies through the continued use and enhancement of an Enterprise Risk Management Framework.  Risks continue to be routinely identified, analyzed, addressed, and monitored across the AGCO.
  • The AGCO continued to conduct internal audits and evaluations based on a Board-approved three-year rolling Strategic Audit and Evaluation plan. The plan ensures key risk areas and priorities are examined for alignment with the organization’s strategic objectives and for compliance with applicable requirements. A number of audits and evaluations have been conducted and recommendations have been implemented, leading to strengthened internal controls and improved governance and accountability.
  • Enhancement of the AGCO’s Emergency Management Plan Framework continued, including the creation of business continuity plans for new lines of business and modifications to infrastructure to ensure critical systems and information are protected and available in the event of an emergency.

3. Strategic Engagement

  • The AGCO continued to implement a strategic engagement approach across the organization as a staple component of its business process. This strategy has resulted in the delivery of a series of engagement-driven activities aimed at raising stakeholder input and awareness about major corporate initiatives.
  • A comprehensive strategy was developed to engage the AGCO’s municipal partners in a focused and coordinated manner. In the first year of the strategy, a municipal webinar series was undertaken to strengthen and formalize the AGCO’s relationship with municipal partners by creating a platform for dialogue and education. Three webinars were held, focusing on the AGCO’s role, charitable gaming and cannabis.
  • A number of educational webinar sessions were successfully delivered for industry stakeholders including: Beer, Wine and Cider in Grocery Stores, Horse Racing Integration and Catch the Ace.
  • The AGCO continued to collaborate with the OPP, as well as regional and municipal police services currently participating in the Last Drink Program through the ongoing review of program reports and analysis of program data.
  • Collaboration and close partnerships with police services, other regulators and municipalities continued to enhance regulatory compliance through the sharing of information and resources.
  • The AGCO continued to maintain a collaborative relationship with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, College of Veterinarians, Canada Border Services Agency, Regulatory Compliance & Enforcement Council, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, and the Canadian American Law Enforcement Organization.

4. Quality Service Experience

  • The continued modernization of the AGCO service delivery model through the phased implementation of the iAGCO web-based portal included the implementation of Phases 2 and 3 in 2018. The transition period from paper to online transactions for Phase 2 ended in January 2019, meaning that all liquor-related transactions with the AGCO, including for Liquor Sales Licences, Manufacturer’s and their Representatives, Ferment-on-Premises and Liquor Delivery services, are now exclusively conducted online. Phase 3 went live in November 2018 and included services for Gaming Site Operators, Gaming Assistants, Gaming and Non-Gaming Related Suppliers and Lottery Retailers. All cannabis-related tranactions were immediately launched as digital by default in January 2019 and are conducted exclusively through the online portal.
  • A new Complaints and Inquiries Handling Policy was launched in January 2018 to clarify procedures and affirm the AGCO’s intention to use information from complaints and inquiries to support continuous business improvement. 
  • As part of the Strategic Communications Plan, and in support of transformation initiatives, the AGCO expanded the reach of its social media activity on Twitter, using that channel for important updates and engagement with the public.
  • A new Service Strategy and Experience Branch was established in March 2019, to elevate the agency’s service to customers, across all lines of business.

5. Rewarding Workplace

  • Under its organizational design initiative, the AGCO continued to examine the optimal structure for the agency and identified a number of opportunities to be more flexible, dynamic, and agile. These efforts will help to ensure the organization is eventually structured to support the best possible delivery of services and strategic priorities while being able to anticipate and respond to future disruption and change.
  • The first stage of a Remote Work Arrangement program was launched to provide a flexible structure for employees to occasionally work from an alternate work location, when appropriate to their duties and functions.
  • The AGCO NEXT initiative continued to focus on organizational engagement through activities such as NEXT Talks, which were modeled after the popular TED Talks and invited employees to create and deliver a presentation to all staff related to a specific theme.
  • In response to recent Employee Engagement Survey results, the AGCO committed to developing action plans to build on two corporate themes: opportunities to have ideas adopted and put into use, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of work structures and processes.
  • The AGCO held its first-ever virtual Town Hall series. Taking a modern, cost-effective approach, the series connected with AGCO staff across the province over the course of one week through a combination of live streaming interactive sessions, themed days with customized content, recorded presentations and an employee social media platform to respond to questions.

Government Initiatives and Priorities

As an agency of the provincial government, the AGCO supports the Ontario government’s public policy priorities and fiscal objectives. The AGCO continued to review its priorities and its operations to remain consistent with government direction and to ensure cost-effective and customer-focused service delivery. Examples of government initiatives which have had a direct impact on AGCO internal operations from strategic, structural and financial perspectives include:

  1. Licensing and Regulation of Recreational Cannabis
  2. Modernizing the Retail and Consumption of Beverage Alcohol
  3. Open For Business
  4. OLG Gaming Modernization
  5. Open Government

1. Licensing and Regulation of Recreational Cannabis

The Ontario Legislative Assembly passed the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act on October 17, 2018, setting out the legal structure for private cannabis retail in Ontario and providing the AGCO with the authority to license, regulate and enforce the sale of recreational cannabis through privately run stores in Ontario. 

The Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and its regulations came into force on November 16, 2018.

On December 13, 2018, the Government of Ontario imposed a temporary cap of 25 Retail Store Authorizations across five regions, and as set out in Ontario Regulation 468/18, gave the AGCO the mandate to hold an Expression of Interest Lottery to determine who may apply for a Retail Operator Licence, tied to one of the 25 Retail Store Authorizations. The lottery covered the period of time from January 2, 2019, when the Lottery Rules were published, to December 13, 2019, when Ontario Regulation 468/18 is scheduled to be amended.

The AGCO’s internationally accredited in-house Gaming Laboratory developed a lottery software program for the selection of the lottery applicants. Using state-of-the-art equipment to test and analyze the integrity of all lottery, casino and internet gaming systems used in Ontario, the Laboratory was well positioned to develop this program. It also submitted its software program for independent testing and certification from accredited, independent testing laboratory Gaming Laboratories International.

The AGCO retained the services of KPMG to act as a fairness monitor to oversee the lottery and ensure it was conducted fairly and according to the established Lottery Rules. On January 11, 2019, the AGCO held the lottery. There were approximately 17,000 entries. On February 21, 2019, KPMG issued its report regarding the first phase of the lottery, concluding that the process during that phase was fair to applicants and potential applicants. 

On February 7, 2019, the AGCO Board of Directors approved CannSell as the authorized cannabis retail employee training program for all employees of cannabis retail stores in Ontario.

The AGCO developed a regulatory framework, compliance and audit processes and Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores to ensure that stores operated in the public interest. In addition, the AGCO prepared its iAGCO online portal to process all applications for cannabis-related licences and authorizations.

Ten cannabis retail stores were licensed and scheduled to open on April 1, 2019, in support of the Government of Ontario’s objective of having licensed cannabis retail stores beginning to operate on that date. The AGCO continues to work with, and support the Government of Ontario on the regulation of cannabis, including the opening of additional licensed stores.

The AGCO’s Changing Public Profile

AGCO Website

Average monthly traffic to the agco.ca website increased considerably following the announcement of the AGCO’s role as the provincial regulator for retail cannabis. In the six months before the announcement, the AGCO had a total of 230,000 visitors on its site. In the six months after the announcement, the number of visitors more than doubled to 480,000.

During the peak months following the Expression of Interest Lottery (Dec 2018 – Feb 2019) the AGCO site experienced a 240% increase in average monthly visitors over the same period a year prior. Nearly half of those visitors were seeking information about cannabis. 

Social Media 

As a result of intense interest in cannabis regulation, the AGCO has significantly increased its outreach. For example, in just under three months between October 2018 and January 2019, the AGCO received 1,020 cannabis-related mentions on social media. In comparison, the AGCO received 400 social media mentions in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

Email distribution list

In order to keep interested parties informed of developments in cannabis retail regulation, the AGCO invited people to subscribe to receive email alerts. From October 2018 to March 2019, the AGCO sent nearly 100 email messages in both official languages to its cannabis distribution list, which grew to over 11,000 subscribers by the end of the fiscal year. The average open rate of these emails was 59% - twice as high as the government benchmark average open rate of 26.5% (according to Mailchimp).

AGCO Media Requests

One of the AGCO’s objectives when taking on the regulation of private cannabis retail was to develop an accurate and common understanding of the key regulations and their objectives. Working with media outlets to share this information became a priority over the year. The AGCO saw a 311% increase in contacts with media outlets this year, with cannabis-related media requests spiking from December 2018 to February 2019.

Table 1 – Media Requests by Month




Percentage Increase





























Outreach to Cannabis Stakeholders

AGCO Webinars

The AGCO hosted three cannabis-related webinars to support the April 1, 2019 roll out of private retail cannabis stores. These webinars provided an opportunity to educate potential licensees on what would be their regulatory responsibilities and also on AGCO’s approach to selecting cannabis licensees and the AGCO’s standards-based approach to regulation and compliance. The overall satisfaction rate from participants to these webinars was 88%.

TABLE 2 – Webinar Participants


Private Retail Part 1

Municipal Webinar

Private Retail Part 2

Private Retail Part 3

Total Webinar



Nov 27, 2018

Nov 27, 2018

Dec 14, 2018

Jan 4, 2019



Number of












Information Onboarding

On March 4, 2019, the AGCO hosted an information onboarding session for the 25 selected Expression of Interest Lottery applicants to build relationships between the AGCO and cannabis retail store operators and managers, and to provide additional information on the AGCO’s reporting requirements and approach to compliance and regulatory assurance. In total 45 cannabis retailer participants attended the session with an overall satisfaction rate of 100% for this session. 

Municipal Conferences

The AGCO also participated in several municipal conferences, including the Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs Northern Clerks Forum, to provide information on the newly regulated cannabis retail industry. These were opportunities for the AGCO to answer questions from municipal stakeholders such as city councilors, local police forces, municipal licensing and bylaw officers.

2. Modernizing the Retail and Consumption of Beverage Alcohol

The government has committed to modernizing the rules for the retail and consumption of beverage alcohol in Ontario, and in November 2018, announced that it would develop options to let corner stores, big-box stores, and more grocery stores, sell beer and wine.

Shortly thereafter, the government launched a public consultation on the sale and consumption of beverage alcohol. Over 33,000 consumers, businesses, beverage alcohol producers, public health and safety organizations, retailers, restaurants and bars provided feedback that will inform the government’s plans for liquor reform.

Consistent with the government’s objective of improved consumer choice and enabling opportunities for businesses, in December 2018, the AGCO began allowing the Beer Store, the LCBO, off-site winery retail stores and authorized grocery stores to sell beverage alcohol from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Prior to that change, alcohol could only be sold between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition, as of March 31, 2019, the AGCO has provided 363 grocery stores across Ontario with authorizations to sell beer, cider and/or wine. Of these:

  • 70 are authorized to sell beer and wine only
  • 293 are authorized to sell beer and cider only.

Of these stores, 68 also have a wine boutique authorization, which allows an independent wine boutique to operate within a grocery store.

 As the government implements its plan for alcohol reform, the AGCO will continue to work with the government and stakeholders on these alcohol modernization initiatives. 

3. Open For Business

The government has emphasized the need for Ontario to be ‘Open For Business’ and instituted a government-wide red-tape and burden reduction initiative to support economic growth and foster enhanced interaction between government and business.

The AGCO already has a long history of working to support these goals by continually searching for ways to reduce administrative burdens for businesses and by deploying regulatory approaches to support responsible economic development. The shift towards a more risk- and outcome-based regulatory framework in the gaming sector, for example, is intended to allow operators and businesses more flexibility to adapt to marketplace changes and ultimately to increase their competitiveness without compromising the AGCO’s regulatory work.

In 2018-2019, the AGCO designed and implemented a similar approach for the retail sale of cannabis in Ontario, assuring effectiveness but avoiding unnecessarily burdensome regulatory oversight from the outset. The AGCO also continues to build strategic partnerships and share information with other government ministries and agencies to strengthen collaborative and streamlined approaches. This includes effective relationships with the Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Finance, Ontario Cannabis Store, OLG and the LCBO.

The concept of reducing ‘red tape’ and burden has been a driver for many of the regulatory and internal reforms implemented at the AGCO over the last 15 years. ‘Value for Money’ is embedded into the organization’s fabric and strategic plan. The AGCO continued to work with stakeholders on a number of initiatives in 2018-2019 as part of its ongoing regulatory modernization efforts, including changes to enhance the benefits of charitable gaming. In addition, the AGCO has launched an internal Value Task Force to explore ways to work Better, Faster, Smarter by reducing the regulatory burden for our regulated entities, provide flexibility and enhanced service delivery to our customers and create efficiencies to support the government’s regulatory burden reduction targets. 

4. OLG Gaming Modernization

In March 2012, the OLG initiated a plan to modernize lottery and gaming in Ontario, which included three key priorities:

  • Becoming more customer-focused
  • Securing qualified service providers for the day-to-day operation of lottery and gaming
  • Renewing OLG’s role in the conduct, management and oversight of lottery and gaming.

The AGCO also embarked on a path to modernize its approach to regulating, which complements the OLG’s plan to modernize the lottery and gaming sectors in Ontario. The AGCO has been taking a modern and progressive approach to regulation, based on risk, the achievement of outcomes and providing a degree of business flexibility and efficiencies for the lottery and gaming industries. These efforts support and align with key government objectives for enhanced efficiency in the delivery of public services and reducing regulatory burden and increasing consumer choice. In addition, the AGCO’s outcomes-based approach to regulation has resulted in significant cost avoidance annually for the AGCO, as well as cost savings, avoidance or additional revenue for Casino Operators.

OLG Casino Modernization

The OLG started modernizing commercial gaming operations by inviting private sector casino companies to become the new Casino Operators. The OLG divided Ontario casino sites into eight gaming bundles and released Requests for Proposal for private sector Casino Operators for each bundle. On May 1, 2018 and July 18, 2018, the West GTA Bundle and Central Bundle respectively transitioned to new private sector Casino Operators. To date, seven bundles (East, Southwest, North, Ottawa, GTA, West GTA and Central) have transitioned to private sector Casino Operators, and the remaining Niagara Bundle is scheduled to be transitioned in 2019. The AGCO has played a key role in supporting this transition. For starters, the AGCO conducts comprehensive due diligence and eligibility assessments to ensure that all operators meet standards of honesty and integrity and to ensure that all casino gaming will be operated within the law. The AGCO also undertakes a number of key activities during the transition process. For example, the AGCO works with the Casino Operator and OLG to monitor transition activities, assess the sites’ readiness, and ensure casino operations comply with all gaming-related legislation and the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming. Once transitioned, many private sector Casino Operators are choosing to build new casinos or expand and relocate existing ones in their respective bundles. Numerous expansions and new builds have taken place over the past year, many with plans to build hotels and live entertainment venues, as well as expand gaming facilities to include ‘live’ table games. The AGCO enhances the operators’ understanding and compliance to AGCO/OPP regulatory requirements by providing them with a Building, Expanding and Relocating Casinos guide, and participates in activities such as pre-opening compliance inspections and ‘mock’ casino exercises.

OLG Player Platform and Lottery Modernization

Under OLG’s Lottery Modernization Strategy, and in accordance with AGCO standards, OLG is also modernizing key components of its lottery and iGaming business including a new OLG Player Platform, the replacement of Lottery Terminals, an enhanced Sports Betting solution, a new Web and App presence as well as new games.

The goal of the OLG Player Platform and Lottery Modernization Strategy is to expand the customer base by ensuring technology and product solutions are responsive to changing customer needs. OLG intends for all lottery modernization initiatives be released at the same time, with Phase 1 releases planned for later in the coming fiscal year and the integration of all systems to be part of future phases. The AGCO is working to educate new Gaming-Related Suppliers on the regulatory requirements and expectations as well as to assess technical solutions in accordance with Registrar’s Standards, and principles of integrity and public interest. 

The OLG and the AGCO continue to work together to implement the overall modernization strategy. AGCO’s approach, both in its day-to-day role, as well as in modernization, is to be standards and risk-based, as well as outcomes-focused. The agency has successfully transitioned to a standards-based approach in casino gaming, lotteries, charitable gaming and iGaming.

See OLG Lotteries for information on how the AGCO conducts audits and reviews of OLG lottery management functions, processes and systems.

5. Open Government

The AGCO continued to support the Open Government initiative, which aims to create a more open and transparent government by sharing data and information, and consulting with the people of Ontario.

In accordance with the Open Data Directive, the AGCO has made available on its website an inventory listing data sets under its custody and control. The inventory identifies whether a data set is currently open, in the process of being opened, or exempt from being released as open data due to legal, security, privacy, confidentiality or commercially-sensitive reasons. The agency has also reviewed key data sets published on its website to ensure that open, machine-readable versions are made available. The AGCO has conducted an exercise to prioritize the data sets to be released under Open Data, and will continue to make priority data sets available to the public on its website under an open-by-default approach.

Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) was created with the goal of developing standards that would improve accessibility for people with disabilities across the province. The AGCO has developed accessibility standards in the areas of customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation, and the built environment.

The AODA requires all provincial agencies to provide updates to their Accessibility Plan and Policies on an annual basis. The AGCO is committed to meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in a timely manner, by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting accessibility requirements under the AODA. The AGCO has implemented the requirements outlined in the plan and participated in various activities to inform its plan and policies, including the review and update of its practices in the areas of training, information and communication, and employment.

All AGCO employees are trained on the requirements of Ontario’s accessibility laws, including the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR), and the Ontario Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities. This accessibility training has been built in to the employee orientation process to ensure that all new AGCO employees, as well as the Board of Directors and members of the Horse Racing Appeal Panel, have a better understanding of accessibility to perform their duties and provide services to the AGCO’s diverse stakeholders.  

The AGCO maintains a commitment to meeting all requirements under the AODA and the IASR and continues to refine its accessibility plan with a focus on ensuring its policies and practices remain accessible and meet the needs of all stakeholders, including persons with disabilities.

Performance Measures

The AGCO’s approach to performance measurement enables the agency to improve program effectiveness by promoting a focus on results, service quality and value for money through continued targeting, monitoring, and evaluation of results.

Performance measures are an integral component of the AGCO’s strategic planning process. Effective strategic planning requires continuous feedback on progress towards achieving stated objectives, through performance measures based on the five Strategic Goals identified in the AGCO Strategic Plan.

In keeping with the principle of a ‘critical few’ performance measures, the selected measures are intended to provide a broad overview of the AGCO’s activities, but are not intended to measure all facets of the agency’s operations. As part of the enhanced planning framework, the AGCO will continue to develop performance measures for its corporate and divisional plans.

The results from 2018-2019 performance measures that follow demonstrate that the AGCO has met or surpassed minimum agency targets in every respect. The achievement of these measures is the result of a number of overarching initiatives at the AGCO, including:

  • the introduction of additional business lines in iAGCO, the AGCO’s online licensing and registration system
  • a focus on stakeholder engagement and an enhanced approach to stakeholder education
  • a modern regulatory approach which is risk-based, compliance-focused, and outcomes-based
  • the introduction of numerous services to support a rewarding workplace for employees.

Operational Performance:  Table 3 - AGCO Performance Measures 2018-19

Table 3 – AGCO Performance Measures 2018-19


Goal Supported

Performance Measure

Five Year Planning

Cycle Target

Percentage of compliance matters resolved through the Letter of Incident (LOI) process without a request for hearing. Maintain the ratio of compliance matters resolved through LOI process without request for hearing at an average of 90%. 94% compliance matters resolved through LOI process exceeds AGCO target
Percentage of high-risk infractions following transition to a compliance-based operating model. Maintain an average 30% decrease in infractions compared to benchmark data. 85% decrease in high risk infractions compared to benchmark exceeds AGCO target
Value for
Average gaming and liquor application turnaround time. Average turnaround time meets or is better than AGCO Standard (30 days). Liquor: 13.25 days
Gaming: 12 days
is lower than AGCO Standard for turnaround.
Average electronic gaming lab testing turnaround time. Average turnaround time meets or is better than comparable jurisdictions (New Jersey = 53 days, Michigan = 52 days, and Nevada = 35 days). 20 days average turnaround, better than all comparable jurisdictions.
Percentage of stakeholders indicating a high level of engagement following AGCO consultations using a Stakeholder Engagement Plan. Percentage stakeholders reported feeling engaged/highly engaged during stakeholder consultations averages 80%. 88% of stakeholders participating in the Cannabis Webinar Series reported feeling engaged/highly engaged, exceeding AGCO target.
93% of stakeholders participating in the Municipal Engagement Webinar Series reported feeling engaged engaged/highly engaged, exceeding AGCO target.
Overall customer satisfaction with iAGCO, the AGCO’s new automated online licensing and registration solution. Percentage of customers reporting feeling satisfied with iAGCO averages 80%. 93% of customers indicate they are satisfied with iAGCO, exceeding AGCO target.
Percentage of gaming operators indicating excellent level of satisfaction with AGCO testing and lab services. Increase percentage of gaming operators indicating excellent level of service to 75%. 100% of gaming operators indicating excellent level of service exceeds AGCO target.
Time to Fill Vacancies (Weeks). Average time to fill vacancies meets or is better than AGCO internal target (8 weeks). 6.7 weeks average time taken to fill vacancies exceeds AGCO target.
Number of Training Hours Per Employee. Average number of training hours taken per employee meets or exceeds AGCO target (15.75 hours). 19.08 hours of training per employee exceeds AGCO target.


Operational Performance - IEB

The Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) is comprised of OPP Officers, fully integrated as a Bureau within the AGCO. The OPP Bureau is assigned to the AGCO and is fully integrated into AGCO operations, to streamline, standardize and improve investigative response. The IEB is comprised of the Investigations Branch (IB) and the Intelligence and Investigative Support Branch (IISB). These branches provide investigative expertise and effective information sharing to external law enforcement, regulatory and industry stakeholder agencies to ensure integrity and public safety within AGCO regulated industries.

IEB Investigation Branch


TABLE 4 – Number of IEB Investigations







Charitable Gaming



Liquor Licence Holders and Applicants



Lottery Insider Wins



Lottery Suspicious Wins



Other Lottery Investigations



Additional Investigations Reviewed and Referred to AGCO

 Regulatory Compliance for Follow Up




Gaming Enforcement Branch

Gaming Investigation Units

TABLE 5 – Occurrences at Casinos and Slot Machine Facilities




Total Investigations



Total Criminal Code Offences



Alleged Cheat-at-Play Instances



Cheat-at-Play Charges Laid



Total Non-Criminal Code Related Offences 

  • These occurrences involved provincial statute investigations or violations, such as the LLATrespass to Property Act, and Mental Health Act.
  • Not included are requests to assist local police with non-gaming related investigations. Only those events that result in a report being filed are considered to be reportable occurrences by the AGCO’s Investigation and Enforcement Bureau.



In 2018-2019, there were a total of 1,123 other calls for police assistance, including calls for medical emergencies, police information and abandoned children.

Eligibility Investigations Unit (EIU)

TABLE 6 – Eligibility Investigations




Investigations - Gaming

Include files on gaming related and non-gaming related suppliers, racing teletheater investigations, investigations on gaming site employees, and lottery retailer investigations



Outside Agency Assist Checks

These checks provide investigative assistance to external law enforcement agencies.




Strategic Partnerships

Compliance Services (CS) recognizes the benefits of collaborative working relationships with police services and other regulatory bodies. Throughout 2018-2019, CS continued to seek out new strategic partnerships and collaborative approaches to promote compliance among all sectors regulated by the AGCO

In this fiscal year, CS led the implementation of the Ottawa Compliance Project focusing on the ByWard Market area, in collaboration with municipal compliance bodies including by-law, public health, fire, and police. The project established baseline awareness seminars for front-line compliance personnel to increase their awareness of key compliance concerns for the participating agencies and established an efficient process to refer items of concern to the responsible agency. Based on the results of this pilot, further opportunities to partner with additional communities will be explored.

Operational Performance – By Sector

Service Strategy and Experience

In March 2019, the AGCO created a new Service Strategy and Experience Branch to initially build upon and complete through the objectives of Service Experience 2020, an agency-wide initiative to define and deliver an optimal service and regulatory experience to its customers. Service Experience 2020 plans to elevate the agency’s service to customers, across all lines of business, by enhancing the way the AGCO supports its customers at every point of interaction based on Guiding Principles to establish customer-centred services with clear service standards, offer multiple channels of contact, to be “digital by default,” and include self-help options.

iAGCO and Service Improvements

To create a more streamlined and digital experience for AGCO applicants and registrants, the agency continued its phased approach to iAGCO online services:

  • Phase 1 was launched on May 29, 2017 for SOP applications and Liquor manufacturers’ licensing
  • Phase 2: January 29, 2018 for all Liquor licences. Online submission of complaints and inquiries was also introduced in this phase
  • Phase 3: November 19, 2018 for lottery and gaming registrants and January 14, 2019 for cannabis applicants.

As of January 2019, the online submission rate for liquor applicants was 93%. In addition, 79% of gaming application were processed online. Low risk applicants now have quicker application turnaround timelines resulting from auto-issuance and auto-renewals of licences.

In 2018-2019, 95% of Special Occasion Permits, and 41% of liquor licence renewals were issued automatically. The current auto renewal rate for gaming registrations is 60%.

iAGCO improves customer service by allowing those who do business with the AGCO to apply for and manage their licences, registrations and permits online, anytime from anywhere by accessing the iAGCO online portal. 93% of AGCO customers report satisfaction with their experience using the iAGCO portal.

The submission of regulatory notifications, liquor licence objections, cannabis public submissions, general inquiries and complaints are now conducted online through iAGCO

TABLE 7 – iAGCO & Service Improvements


iAGCO submissions

Regulatory Notifications


Liquor objections






Cannabis submissions

(from the public and municipalities)




Complaints & Inquiries

The AGCO’s updated Complaints & Inquiries Handling Policy focuses on complaints analysis and continuous improvement to improve evidence-based decision making. Through regular performance monitoring, the AGCO’s average turnaround for addressing complaints about regulated entity compliance and licensing and registration was reduced by 44% over the previous fiscal year from 69.9 to 39.3 days. 

TABLE 8 – Operational Performance by Sector: Customer Service

The AGCO is committed to supporting the public and stakeholders through effective front-line customer service support.




Number of telephone contacts



Walk-in customers (Head Office)



Self-Help (using automated voice messaging system)



iAGCO submissions



AGCO web site visits




The AGCO continued its commitment to improving the customer experience, with the launch of call-monitoring technology to monitor and improve the quality of customer calls. 

Strategic Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is a key component of the delivery of AGCO priority projects and decision-making. The AGCO shares information and educates stakeholders to ensure overall understanding of regulatory requirements and improve regulatory outcomes and compliance. This engagement supports the AGCO’s compliance-focused and risk-based regulatory approach with increased service quality and collaboration.

Stakeholder engagement, education, and training activities include hosting of webinars and national/international delegations, consultations and industry stakeholder information sessions as well as participation in industry related forums and conferences and facilitation of working groups.

TABLE 9 – Quarterly Strategic Engagement Activities

Engagement per Quarter

Total Engagement Activities

Q1 April – June 2018


Q2 July – September 2018


Q3 October – December 2018


Q4 January – March 2019





In addition to targeted industry outreach, the AGCO developed a comprehensive municipal engagement strategy to engage in a focused and coordinated manner with municipalities on its regulatory frameworks for liquor, cannabis and charitable gaming. The strategy included a municipal webinar series aimed at strengthening the AGCO’s relationship with municipalities by engaging on key AGCO regulatory activity topics and issues to address the interests of municipalities. Webinar topics ranged from explaining the role of the AGCO to education surrounding the charitable gaming regulatory framework and the newly regulated cannabis industry. Overall, there were over 900 municipal registrations for the four municipal webinars with an average participant satisfaction rate of 94%.

The 2018-2019 racing season also saw the first full year of implementation of two key reforms to the review of the Rules of Racing that arose out of the industry-wide “Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario working group activities that took place in 2017:

  • Measures to streamline the Equine Drug Program process, including changes to penalty guidelines so that they better reflect the severity of equine drug violations and better protect equine athletes. Preliminary results indicate that 94% of positive tests were resolved through a settlement process, and therefore without appeal to the Horse Racing Appeal Panel, compared to 31% in FY 2016/17; 17 of 18 positive tests from April 21 to Dec 31, 2018 were settled
  • Standards-based rules related to temperature, including requirements for race cancellation and other measures intended to ensure the well-being of horses and people who may be impacted by extreme temperature. Performance measures related to goals such as enhanced race horse welfare and increased transparency regarding race cancellations were designed, and data collection is underway. 

During 2018-2019, the AGCO continued its engagement with industry stakeholders as it worked toward implementation of other key reforms explored as part of AGCO’s review of the Rules of Racing. This included:

  • Receiving input from industry associations, racetrack management, veterinarians and other stakeholders to help inform new standards-based rules requiring that horses in Ontario are free of medications, as well as new provisions concerning the invalidating of claims in instances where a horse dies or is euthanized on the racetrack. Feedback received has informed the implementation and ongoing evaluation of these changes
  • Insights from jockeys, racetrack management and medical professionals contributed to the design of a Concussion Protocol Pilot that is to be held at thoroughbred racetracks for the duration of the 2019 racing season. This protocol is intended to safeguard jockeys and race horses, and raise awareness and understanding of concussions and associated health risks.

Compliance Services

Compliance Services combined Audit and Financial Services, Electronic Gaming, Gaming Compliance and Liquor and Lotteries inspections under one umbrella.

Compliance Services is responsible for conducting regulatory inspections and investigations across all lines of business regulated by the AGCO. The goal of this reorganization – to have a fully integrated role for all Inspectors – is consistent with the AGCO’s move to a risk-based and outcomes-based approach to regulation.

AGCO Audits

  1. Casinos and Slot Machine Facilities 
  2. Internet Gaming (iGaming)
  3. Charitable Gaming (cGaming)
  4. Other Charitable Gaming
  5. OLG Lotteries
  6. Horse Racing Audits
  7. Financial Due Diligence and Investigations 


1. Casinos and Slot Machine Facilities

In 2018-2019, the casino sector continued to transition to a private sector operated model under OLG’s modernization strategy. The sector also fully transitioned to a standards-based regulatory approach, under which the AGCO is establishing clear industry objectives and standards. Regulated entities then determine the most efficient and effective way to meet them. The AGCO assesses compliance by obtaining assurance these objectives and standards are being achieved. The approach benefits the AGCO and the operators by allowing for:

  • more operational flexibility while strengthening regulatory outcomes in a way that does not unnecessarily burden those we regulate
  • the AGCO to proactively manage the evolving nature of its regulated industries and provide flexibility to be able to assume new regulatory responsibilities.

In carrying out an audit at a casino facility, the AGCO auditor assesses the site’s compliance with the requirements under the Gaming Control Act (GCA), Registrar’s Standards for Gaming, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, 2001 and related regulations. The AGCO proactively helps regulated entities comply with regulatory requirements using a mix of education, collaboration and deterrence. During 2018-2019, the AGCO carried out four risk-based audits.

2. Internet Gaming (iGaming)

As part of its regulatory assurance activities, the AGCO conducts audits, compliance monitoring and reviews, technical monitoring of the iGaming platform and investigations of suspicious behaviour within the province’s PlayOLG.ca gaming platform. The AGCO applies a risk-based approach to its activities, including its eligibility assessment and registration process, technical assessment and approval of updates to the OLG iGaming solution and new games, and the application of regulatory assurance activities to assess compliance with the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming.  During 2018-2019, the AGCO carried out four risk-based audits and reviews.

3. Charitable Gaming (cGaming)

The OLG, in partnership with the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association and the Commercial Gaming Association of Ontario, embarked on a multi-year initiative to revitalize charitable bingo in the province by introducing electronic products into existing and future charitable gaming facilities. These products currently include electronic bingo, Play on Demand games, electronic Break Open Ticket dispensers, and Turbo Challenge. 

The AGCO continued to work with the OLG and industry partners to facilitate the introduction of electronic games conducted and managed by OLG in cGaming centres. Thirty-one cGaming centres are now regulated under the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming. During 2018-2019, the AGCO carried out one risk-based audit.

4. Other Charitable Gaming

In addition to cGaming operated by the OLG in partnership with charities, traditional paper-based bingo events conducted and managed by licensed charitable organizations continue to operate in Ontario. Charitable gaming revenues, including those that come from traditional bingos, are an important source of funding for a large number of not-for-profit organizations.

The AGCO continued to support the charitable gaming industry by supporting fundraising opportunities for charities and providing suppliers with opportunities for business growth through modernization initiatives. These included the bingo revenue model (BRM), changes to the break open ticket regulatory framework, launch of Catch the Ace as well as its works with the Charitable Gaming Strategic Working Group and Mega Raffle Working Group. The BRM applies to all pooling bingo halls. While the role of provincial and municipal licensing authorities remains in place, this model provides for flexibility in how charitable games are licensed, managed and conducted.

5. OLG Lotteries

The AGCO conducts audits and reviews of OLG lottery management functions, processes and systems. Applying a risk-based approach, the AGCO completed one technology-related audit of a lottery system and continued to monitor the implementation of OLG’s lottery modernization. OLG continued to modernize key components of its lottery and iGaming business including a new OLG Player Platform, replacement of Lottery Terminals, an enhanced Sports Betting solution, a new Web and App presence as well as new games. 

This is a time of significant change in people, processes and technology. During the year, AGCO has been monitoring the changes underway, assessing related risks, educating new Gaming-Related Suppliers on AGCO’s regulatory requirements and expectations, as well as to assessing technology-related readiness.

6. Horse Racing Audits

The AGCO conducts audits and reviews of Ontario racetracks to assess the effectiveness of governance structures and processes, the integrity of funds management, compliance with the licence to operate a racetrack and with the Rules of Racing. AGCO Audit also collaborates closely with OLG Horse Racing in areas of shared interest such as governance and integrity of purse account management. In 2018-2019, the AGCO carried out three audits and reviews of Ontario racetracks.

7. Financial Due Diligence and Investigations

The AGCO conducts financial due diligence reviews to assess the ability of an entity applying for a licence or registration with the AGCO to conduct its business in accordance with the principles of honesty, integrity and financial responsibility. Financial Investigations Unit (FIU) reports are used to support the eligibility assessment process and licensing and registration decisions made by the Licensing & Registration Branch. During the fiscal year, the FIU completed 14 financial due diligence investigations, up from 12 in the previous fiscal year. The Branch also provided its forensic expertise to support investigations by the AGCO/OPP’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau of suspected misuse of funds. 

With respect to the tables which follow: comparing 2018-2019 statistics with 2017-2018, the actual number of alcohol, gaming or horse racing inspections has dropped given that the focus of inspections is now less about numbers and more about compliance with governing legislations.

Compliance Services Inspections

In 2018-2019, Compliance Services achieved a milestone in its modernization, transitioning away from having sector-specific Inspectors for the alcohol, gaming and horse racing lines of business to fully trained, multi-sector Inspector roles. This change provides the AGCO with increased flexibility to monitor compliance more efficiently. For example, only one Inspector is needed to inspect a grocery store that sells both alcohol and lottery tickets, rather than formerly needing to send an inspector from each line of business. The Inspector model continues to focus on risk as the key factor in planning regulatory assurance activities. This supports the AGCO’s focus on the desired outcomes of its regulation.

TABLE 10 – Compliance Services Inspections – Cannabis





Cannabis Pre-Opening




Spot Inspection





TABLE 11 – Compliance Services Inspections – Raffles





Infractions cited



In addition to commercial gaming inspections, (see second paragraph under “3. Charitable Gaming (cGaming)”, the AGCO continued to conduct inspections at sites that fall under O.Reg 207(1)(b) of the Criminal Code. These sites are conducted and managed by the OLG.

AGCO Inspectors also provide education and outreach to the charitable gaming sector to ensure continued compliance. In 2018-2019, Inspectors 81 Inspections and found 2 Violations.



The Liquor Licence Act and its Regulations provide the Registrar with the authority for regulating and licensing liquor sales licences, ferment-on-premise facility licences, liquor delivery service licences, manufacturer’s licences and manufacturer’s representative licences.

The AGCO is also responsible for overseeing the administration of Special Occasion Permits (SOPs), which are required for occasional private events (such as weddings and receptions) or public events (such as community festivals), where beverage alcohol will be served and/or sold to the public. As of May 29, 2017, the AGCO began moving away from paper-based applications and SOP applicants were able to apply online, directly from the AGCO’s iAGCO online portal. As of April 1, 2018, paper was eliminated and all applications for a SOP are made online through the iAGCO online portal. 

TABLE 12 – Total Number of Liquor Licences and Special Occasion Permits




Liquor Sales Licensed Establishments



Ferment-on-Premise Facilities



Liquor Delivery Services






Manufacturers’ Representatives



Total liquor licences



Special Occasion Permits issued





TABLE 13 – Compliance Services Inspections – Alcohol




Inspections of licensed premises



Contraventions of Ontario’s liquor laws



Serious occurrences escalated for further review




VQA Wine Sales at Farmers’ Markets

As of March 31, 2019, there were 133 wineries selling their fruit wine, honey wine, maple wine or VQA wine at 207 Ontario Farmers’ Markets.

TABLE 14 – Notices of Proposal (NOPs) and Orders of Monetary Penalty (Alcohol)

If the Registrar proposes to refuse, revoke or suspend a licence, the Registrar must serve an NOP on the applicant/licensee outlining the reasons for the proposed action. Applicants/licensees who dispute an NOP issued by the Registrar may appeal the proposal to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT).




Notices of Proposal

  • - Applications (new, change, transfer)
  • - Disciplinary (suspend and/or add conditions, revoke)
  • - Premises closed (revoke licence)
  • - Other









Orders of Monetary Penalty




TABLE 15 – Alcohol Advertising Complaints Reviewed




Alcohol advertising complaints reviewed




OLG Lotteries

With respect to the table that follows: comparing 2018-2019 statistics with 2017-2018, the actual number of infractions cited and warnings given has dropped given that the focus of inspections is now less about numbers and more about compliance with governing legislations.

TABLE 16 – Compliance Services Inspections - Gaming




Inspections of registered retailers



Infractions cited






Gaming Registrations

Gaming registrations must be obtained by individuals or businesses wishing to:

  • Provide goods or services to charitable or religious organizations to assist with the conduct and management of their licensed lottery event, or any business that manufactures bingo paper or break open tickets
  • Sell lottery products on behalf of OLG, or provide goods or services to OLG related to lottery products
  • Provide goods or services to, or work for a casino, slot machine facility, or charitable Gaming (cGaming) site.

In reviewing applications, an eligibility assessment is carried out by the Registrar concerning the character, integrity, financial responsibility and competence of those persons or businesses and their suitability for registration.

TABLE 17 – Total Number of Gaming & Lottery Registrations



Gaming Assistant


Gaming-Related Supplier - Manufacturers


Gaming-Related Supplier - Lottery


Gaming-Related Supplier - Other


Non-Gaming-Related Supplier


Operator - Charitable - 4 or more events per week


Operator - Charitable - 3 or less events per week


Operator - Commercial




Trade Union




Charitable Gaming Licences

The AGCO administers the charitable lottery licensing program in Ontario. This includes lottery events conducted and managed by charitable or religious organizations (i.e. bingo, raffles and the sale of break open tickets). The AGCO also issues registrations to individuals or businesses that wish to provide goods or services to the charitable gaming sector, and carries out inspection and compliance assurance activities to ensure that charitable gaming licensees and registrants are operating in accordance with the law and in the public interest.

The issuance of charitable lottery licences continues to be a shared responsibility with the AGCO and local municipalities. The AGCO licenses raffle prizes over $50,000 and bingo prize boards over $5,500. Municipalities have the authority to issues licences less than these amounts.

TABLE 18 – Lottery Licences Issued







Charitable Gaming (Bingo Hall)



Break Open Ticket (BOT)






Special Occasion Gaming Event









Electronic Raffle Regulatory Framework

In November 2018, the AGCO launched the second phase of its Electronic Raffle Regulatory Framework to reduce the administrative burden on Ontario charities and religious organizations, and to provide them with greater flexibility when conducting and managing raffles.

Providing charities and religious organizations with more options for raffles, including electronic, online and paper-based raffles, the launch streamlined the administration of charitable raffles while increasing fundraising opportunities for the charitable gaming sector.

By taking a phased approach to electronic raffle regulation, the AGCO is ensuring that charitable raffles are conducted and managed in accordance with the principles of honesty, integrity and in the broader public interest.

Working collaboratively with the charitable gaming sector, the AGCO will continue to examine opportunities to permit a wider variety of raffles in future implementation phases of its electronic raffle framework.

Electronic Gaming Equipment and System Approvals

Technical and Laboratory Services Branch

Ontario’s public confidence in gaming is largely based upon the integrity and fairness of the games and gaming systems in play. The Technical and Laboratory Services (T&LS) Branch supports the regulation of gaming technology by providing expert technical assessments, services and approvals to ensure the technical integrity of gaming products and systems.

The games and technology that T&LS assesses, tests and approves are played throughout the province in all gaming sectors regulated by the AGCO including casino gaming, charitable/raffle gaming, lotteries and iGaming.

Gaming Laboratory

The AGCO Gaming Laboratory (Gaming Lab) is composed of a team of highly qualified and experienced experts in an in-house lab that is equipped with the same gaming systems used in gaming sites in Ontario. Using state-of-the-art test equipment, the team thoroughly analyzes and examines all aspects of the gaming systems.

The Gaming Lab and team are accredited to the international standard ISO 17025:2005 for testing laboratories, considered the international benchmark for excellence in testing laboratories. This achievement sets the AGCO apart as the only known gaming regulator with an in-house accredited gaming lab. The Gaming Lab’s accreditation status is reconfirmed annually through internal and external audits that validate the ongoing quality of the assessments and testing performed.  

In 2018-2019, the Gaming Lab received feedback through its anonymous survey of operators, with respondents indicating excellent (89%) or good (11%) ratings for customer satisfaction areas surveyed, including approval turnaround times and supporting the introduction of new technology.

TABLE 19 – Gaming Laboratory




Electronic gaming-related products requested for approval



Products with regulatory issues discovered by the AGCO that
were consequently not approved



Note: The average turnaround time for approval was 19 days, which is industry leading according to gaming-related suppliers and 21% faster than in 2017-2018. The goal is to maintain or further improve the turnaround time in the upcoming fiscal year.


Horse Racing

Horse Racing Licensing

In 2018-2019, the AGCO continued its efforts to implement a regulatory framework that supports a modern, efficient, and consumer-focused racing industry. AGCO Licensing Agents work at racetracks and at its head office in Toronto. The AGCO licenses participants in the horse racing industry (i.e. jockeys, trainers, drivers, veterinarians), racetracks (i.e. associations) and teletheatres.

TABLE 20 – Horse Racing Licensing

Licensing (Number of licences issued)






Quarter Horse









Ontario Racetracks



  • Fort Erie Race Track, Fort Erie
  • Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto
  • Clinton Raceway, Clinton
  • Dresden Raceway, Dresden
  • Flamboro Downs, Dundas
  • Georgian Downs, Innisfil
  • Grand River Raceway, Elora
  • Hanover Raceway, Hanover
  • Hiawatha Horse Park, Sarnia
  • Kawartha Downs, Fraserville
  • Lakeshore Racing, Leamington
  • Woodbine Mohawk Park, Campbellville
  • Rideau Carleton Raceway, Ottawa 
  • The Raceway at Western Fair, London
  • Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto
Quarter Horse 
Ajax Downs, Ajax 

Racing Inspections

The following tables highlight AGCO horse racing-related inspection and investigation activities.

TABLE 21 – Compliance Services Inspections - Racing

Investigations Unit Statistics



Compliance Activities



Due-Diligence Activities



Medication Control Activities



Regulatory Activities




Rulings are written decisions by AGCO Judges and Stewards that relate to violations of the Rules of Racing, 2018. The decisions can be appealed to the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP), an independent and impartial adjudicative body. 

TABLE 22 – Rulings by Racing Officials







Stewards’ Rulings



Live Race Dates






Judges’ Rulings



Live Race Dates



Quarter Horse



Stewards’ Rulings



Live Race Dates




TABLE 23 – Number of Notices of Proposed Order or Immediate Suspension 

With respect to the table that follows: 2018-2019 statistics have changed from previous years given that some conduct related matters previously dealt with by way of a Ruling under the Rules of Racing may have been considered from an eligibility perspective, resulting in the decision to issue a Notice of Proposed Order.




Notice of Proposed Order

To suspend, revoke or immediately suspend a licence



Hearings, Appeals, Dispute Resolution and Settlements

The Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) is independent of the AGCO and is an adjudicative tribunal that is part of Tribunals Ontario. LAT is responsible for adjudicating appeals regarding decisions on licensing and registration matters made by different regulators. If a person who receives a Notice of Proposal (NOP) or Notice of Proposed Order (NOPO) about a liquor, gaming, horse racing or cannabis licensing matter and wishes to request a hearing, it will be held before LAT. Those liquor, gaming, or cannabis licensees who are assessed an Order of Monetary Penalty by the Registrar can appeal the Order to LAT. Horse racing licensees can appeal the Order to the Horse Racing Appeal Tribunal (HRAP).

LAT hearings are related to:

  • Registrar’s refusal to licence or register under the Liquor Licence Act (LLA), Gaming Control Act 1992 (GCA), Horse Racing Licence Act 2015 (HRLA) and Cannabis Licence Act 2018 (CLA)
  • Other proposed actions by the Registrar under the LLA, GCA, HRLA and CLA
  • Public interest hearings to determine if issuance of a liquor licence, or changes to liquor licensed premises is in the public interest; and
  • Conducting appeals of orders of monetary penalty assessed by the Registrar.

The following settlements were reached without a LAT hearing:

TABLE 24 – Alcohol-Related Settlements Without a Hearing




Number of Settlements agreed to without a hearing

(Notices of Proposal and Orders of Monetary Penalty)



*These settlements are negotiated by the AGCO’s Legal Services Division, based on instructions from the Registrar.


TABLE 25 – Alcohol-Related Public Meeting Conference Calls

If the AGCO receives a written objection to the issuance of a liquor sales licence, a decision is made to either set up a public meeting at the AGCO or issue a Notice of Proposal to review the Licence Application which can be appealed to the LAT. A public meeting is an alternative dispute resolution process and is an informal meeting between the liquor licence applicant, the objectors and a Deputy Registrar of the AGCO. This meeting may be arranged as a telephone conference call.




Number of Public Meeting Conference Calls





TABLE 26 – Gaming-Related Settlements Without a Hearing




Number of Settlements agreed to without a hearing

(Notices of Proposed Order and Orders of Monetary Penalty)



These settlements are negotiated by the AGCO’s Legal Services Division, based on instructions from the Registrar.

Operating Budget – 2018-2019 Fiscal Year Revenue and Expenditures

The AGCO receives its annual budget from the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Printed Estimates, as approved by the Legislature. The AGCO’s budget is made up of 30 percent base funding from government and recovers most of its regulatory costs, 70 percent, directly from the industries it regulates.

AGCO’s mandate expanded in 2018-19, to include the regulation of private cannabis retail.

TABLE 27 – 2018-19 Fiscal Year Revenues and Expenditures





Fees and Levies*









Salaries and Benefits

Other Direct Operating Expenses










Total Program Expenditures




Less Recoveries








*The increase in Fees and Levies relate to an increase to Special Occasion Permit (SOP) fees in 2018 and the Expression of Interest fee charged to applicants entering the lottery for the legalization of Cannabis.

Overall savings in expenditures are due to total number of vacancies and overall reduction in discretionary spending.

Horse Racing Appeal Panel

Horse Racing Appeal Panel

Established through the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015, the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP or Panel) is an adjudicative body that is mandated to consider appeals of decisions made under the Rules of Racing.

The HRAP was established as an institutionally-independent and impartial adjudicative body that operates at arm’s length from the AGCO. Members are appointed to the HRAP by the Board of the AGCO. The HRAP is also provided operational and administrative support by the HRAP Secretariat, which is a unit within the Communications and Corporate Affairs Division of the AGCO. The HRAP Secretariat is operated as a standalone unit and is segregated from other parts of the AGCO organization to support the institutional independence of the HRAP. Although the HRAP Chair and Panel members are appointed by the AGCO Board, the AGCO has no oversight role or involvement in adjudicative matters overseen by the Panel and has no authority or jurisdiction to intervene in individual cases.

Panel Members

All HRAP appointments are made through a competitive, merit-based process, with the intent to employ a broad cross-section of individuals with horse racing experience and ideally with one or more of the following qualifications: legal experience; scientific or medical/pharmacology expertise; governance background; experience in sport disputes; and knowledge of administrative justice principles.

The appointments process helps to ensure that the HRAP operates and conducts appeals with integrity, and that the parties before it have confidence that they will be treated fairly and by an impartial panel.

Stanley Sadinsky


First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 21, 2022

Brian Newton


First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2020

Sandra Meyrick


First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2020

Bruce Murray


First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2020

John Charalambous


First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2020

Dr. Bernd Kretzschmar


First Appointed: March 6, 2017

Resignation Effective: March 5, 2019

Dr. John Hayes


First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2020

Julie Jamieson

Bilingual MEMBER

First Appointed: March 6, 2017

Term Expires: March 5, 2021


Dale Downey


First Appointed: March 6, 2017

Term Expired: March 5, 2019


Year in Review - HRAP

This report marks the end of three years in operation for the HRAP. The focus of the Panel continues to be to ensure a fair and accessible adjudicative process for all participants, and ensuring that it has procedural rules in place to support an efficient and responsive appeal process.

Education and training for Panel members continued to be a high priority during the past year. Recurring meetings of the Panel were held to discuss emerging issues and support information sharing and professional development among the Panel members. The HRAP Secretariat also refreshed its hearing process guidelines to include techniques used in the examination of witnesses and to support better understanding of the rules by self-represented appellants.

The HRAP also made efforts to enhance its stakeholder outreach and education. In June 2018, Secretariat staff reached out to key industry associations and parties/representatives who appear frequently before the tribunal to offer one-on-one information sessions, in the interest of helping parties better understand and comply with the HRAP’s adjudicative framework. The HRAP also began posting educational material at the Panel’s hearing space at 10 Carlson Court for reference by parties before and after their hearings.

As part of its ongoing work to enhance accountability and monitor effectiveness, key performance indicators (KPIs) were established and implemented by the HRAP to help monitor quality service objectives. Other continuous improvements were made to streamline and simplify key Panel documents, such as its notice of hearing and the template used for stay decisions.

The expiry of appointment terms over the year led to a focus on Panel member performance and clarification of roles and responsibilities. Job descriptions were developed to clarify expectations, and formal performance assessments of the Panel members were led by the Chair. A Panel profile was also developed to identify the skill sets required for the ongoing operation of the tribunal and to assist with long-term succession planning.

The Rules of Procedure will be a key focus and priority area for the Panel in the coming year. For the first time, the Panel will be formally consulting with stakeholders on its procedural rules, the idea being that there are a number of parties and individuals who have developed extensive experience appearing before the Panel, and who might therefore have some feedback on how the process can be improved. The objective of this consultation will be to leverage the insights of these parties to ensure that the HRAP’s process remains efficient and effective and continues to meet the needs of the horse racing industry.

HRAP Statistical Report for 2018-2019


Number of Notices of Appeal filed with HRAP in 2017-2018

Number of Notices of Appeal filed with HRAP in 2018-2019



Appeals, by type of infraction



Human Alcohol or Drug


Equine Drug or Medication




Other Racing Violation



Number of in-person hearings

Total hearing days



Appeal hearings

Motion hearings




Number of motions


Stay Motions

Other Types of Motions