3. Overview of Programs and Activities

The AGCO oversees, promotes and enforces compliance with its legislation while protecting the public’s interests in accordance with the principles of honesty, integrity and social responsibility, and in alignment with government and ministry priorities. The following core activities enable the AGCO to effectively fulfill its mandate in Ontario’s alcohol, gaming, horse racing and storefront recreational cannabis sectors:

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

Compliance Activities

  • Inspecting and monitoring licensed establishments to ensure compliance with the Liquor Licence Act and regulations.
  • Inspecting and monitoring authorized grocery stores for compliance with the Liquor Licence Act, Regulation 232/16 under the Liquor Control Act and relevant terms and conditions.
  • Inspecting and monitoring casinos, charitable gaming events/facilities and retail locations where OLG lottery products are sold for compliance with the Gaming Control Act, 1992 and its regulations, licence/registration requirements and standards and requirements established by the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing.
  • Testing, approving and monitoring slot machines and gaming and lottery management systems.
  • Proactively providing education to all sectors and to those who are regulated, to increase their understanding of regulatory obligations and to improve overall compliance.
  • Investigating alleged horse racing violations, horse abuse, race fixing or other racing and rule infractions, as well as investigating horse deaths.
  • Ensuring an Official Veterinarian is in attendance to supervise live racing and confirm that horses are healthy and fit to race.
  • Monitoring and enforcing the Equine Medication and Drug Control Program including identification and investigation of people and businesses involved directly and indirectly with illegal equine medication and drugs, as well as identifying new and unknown drugs and medication being used in horse racing.
  • Administering and overseeing the Human Alcohol and Drug Program for horse racing participants which is designed to detect and deter substance abuse and to offer programs of intervention, rehabilitation and support to those identified as having substance abuse problems.
  • Supporting the health and welfare of horses and horse racing participants.
  • Ensuring the safe, responsible and lawful sale of cannabis, consistent with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018.


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


  • Conducting arbitration of lottery disputes.