Section 3: Overview of Regulatory Activities

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The AGCO promotes compliance with relevant legislation, regulations, and Registrar’s Standards to protect the public interest in alignment with government and ministry priorities. The following core activities enable the AGCO to fulfill its mandate effectively. 


The AGCO licenses and regulates establishments that sell, serve, or deliver liquor. In addition to establishments, it also licenses and regulates alcohol manufacturers, including by-the-glass, retail store, delivery, and temporary extension endorsements. The AGCO administers the Special Occasion Permit (SOP) program, allowing for the sale and service of liquor at special occasions. In terms of compliance activities, the AGCO inspects, monitors, including through the Mystery Shopper Program, and educates licensed establishments to ensure compliance with the Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, its regulations and Registrar’s Interim Standards and Requirements.


The AGCO licenses Cannabis Retail Store Operators and Managers, authorizes Cannabis Retail Stores, approves Cannabis retail employee training programs, and regulates the sale of recreational cannabis through privately run stores. Cannabis compliance activities include monitoring, inspections, audits, mystery shoppers, and providing education to authorized cannabis retail stores to ensure compliance with the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, its regulation, and the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores.

Horse Racing

The AGCO regulates horse racing in Ontario through the Rules of Racing for Thoroughbred, Standardbred, and Quarter Horse breeds. It licenses individuals and businesses involved in the horse racing industry, including racing participants, racetracks and teletheatre locations, and promotes safety and consistency for horse racing participants and horses.

The AGCO ensures compliance with the Rules of Racing by having Racing Officials present to officiate races and investigate alleged rule infractions. It has dedicated inspectors and an Equine Drug Unit that includes membership from the Ontario Provincial Police that conducts out-of-competition drug testing and inspections to ensure appropriate use of therapeutic drugs. The AGCO collaborates with the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency which oversees the post-race equine drug testing program to prevent the misuse of equine drugs. It conducts inspections and/or investigations of positive tests, and subsequently holds reviews to determine penalties as per the Rules of Racing.

The Horse Racing Appeal Panel, an independent adjudicative tribunal, the members of which are appointed by the AGCO Board, hears appeals of rulings made by Racing Officials and AGCO Deputy Registrars under the Rules of Racing.

Lottery and Gaming

Licensing and Registration activities for lottery and gaming, including charitable, commercial land-based, and internet sectors involve registering operators, suppliers, retailers/sellers, and gaming assistants. The AGCO administers the regulatory framework governing the issuance of charitable lottery licences (e.g., bingo, raffle, and break open ticket events). Additionally, municipalities as well as First Nations with an Order In Council are authorized to issue charitable lottery licenses The AGCO also approves rules of play or changes to rules of play for games of chance conducted and managed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), and licenses games of chance at fairs and exhibitions. In addition, the AGCO has requirements to ensure excluded persons (i.e., minors and self-excluded individuals) are not permitted access to gaming premises or online operator platforms in Ontario pursuant to the Gaming Control Act, 1992.

Compliance activities for the lottery and gaming sector include ongoing regulatory assurance activities including inspecting, monitoring, and conducting regular audits of casinos, internet gaming, charitable gaming events/facilities, and retail locations where OLG lottery products are sold. This is done to ensure compliance with the Gaming Control Act, 1992 and its regulation, the Registrar’s Standards, and licence/registration requirements established by the Registrar. The AGCO ensures the safe, responsible and lawful operation of the expanded internet gaming market, consistent with the Gaming Control Act, 1992. It also arbitrates lottery disputes.

In the commercial land-based gaming sector, the AGCO is responsible for ensuring the integrity, security, fairness and audit capability of all electronic gaming hardware, software, associated equipment and gaming systems, including slot machines.  

In terms of internet gaming, the AGCO:

  • Conducts eligibility assessments to determine whether applicants are suitable to be registered as operators or gaming-related suppliers, which includes independent testing labs (ITLs) and independent integrity monitors.
  • Outlines technical standards that are used by ITLs to test and certify, among other things, online games available for Ontario players.
  • Conducts ongoing regulatory assurance activities, including regular audits, testing, and site visits, to assess compliance with the Gaming Control Act, 1992 and the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

Educational Activities

The AGCO proactively provides targeted education to those who are regulated to increase their understanding of regulatory obligations and improve overall compliance. AGCO staff regularly attend industry events and conferences to provide in-person education and support to stakeholders via panel presentations, keynote speakers, and trade show booths. As appropriate, multi-disciplinary teams from across the organization, including individuals from the AGCO’s licensing and registration, policy, and compliance teams, attend these events to offer holistic, direct, and timely education.