It has been a privilege and pleasure to continue to serve as Chair to the Board of Directors of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. The agency’s achievements have been numerous, amidst a year of changes and challenges.
I’m pleased to point out that this Annual Report is being presented in a new format, which allows us to showcase the year in review, as well as our core business delivery initiatives, strategic direction, and risk management activities. As recommended in the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario’s 2020 Value for Money Audit, the AGCO’s 2021-2022 Audited Financial Statements are included which further reflects the AGCO’s dedication to open, honest, and transparent business practices to the province, our stakeholders, and the clients we serve. New to this year’s Annual Report is the inclusion of iGaming Ontario’s (iGO) Annual Report (see Appendix 3).
On that note, a major milestone was achieved in July 2021 when the Ontario government announced the creation of iGO under new legislation as a lottery subsidiary of the AGCO. With that in place, the AGCO Board took on the responsibility to oversee iGO’s conduct and management of prescribed online lottery schemes.
This fiscal year, the AGCO was focused on releasing the regulatory framework in September 2021 for the new internet gaming line of business ahead of the market opening, which is anticipated for April 4, 2022. The regulatory framework includes operators’ standards, eligibility, and compliance requirements that positively impact Ontarians providing more options for consumers to safely, and legally, access internet casino games and sports betting within Ontario.
I would like to acknowledge the committed staff and management teams of both the AGCO and iGO, who embraced the vision and saw the potential of this new line of business and made it a reality! I’d like to make special mention of the leadership and collaboration of the staff at the Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Finance and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, without which this successful accomplishment would not have been made possible.
I’d also like to take this moment to congratulate former vice-chair, and current AGCO Board member, Dave Forestell, who was appointed Chair to the interim iGO Board of Directors and will continue to lead the iGO Board with the launch of iGO. I have had the pleasure of working closely with Dave for the last few years and am excited to see iGO’s accomplishments during these formative years, under his stewardship.
In terms of board composition, we welcome Heidi Reinhart as the new AGCO vice-chair. Heidi was appointed to the AGCO Board of Directors in the autumn of 2020 and accepted the role of AGCO vice-chair in September 2021.
I would also like to welcome the newest member of the AGCO Board, Paul Stoyan, who was appointed in July 2021 and brings a wealth of knowledge in corporate finance and corporate governance. Prior to his appointment, he lectured on several programs for the Business Law Section of the Ontario Bar Association, including programs in relation to corporate board of director liability and conflicts. His experience and knowledge will be a huge asset to the AGCO Board.
The AGCO licences and regulates in the public interest, working to provide advice and guidance to support the sectors it regulates. Several notable achievements this past year demonstrated the AGCO’s unwavering commitment to its mandate of regulating in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and in the public interest. Of particular note, is that the agency worked with the Ontario government to deliver their priority of liquor modernization by implementing the new Liquor Licence and Control Act, 2019, which modernizes the rules for the retail sale and consumption of liquor in Ontario.
Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DI&A) continues to be a main initiative of the AGCO’s Corporate Plan and work is well underway to implement a strong and meaningful multi-year DI&A strategy. The Board continues to encourage, embrace, and support the agency in meeting its DI&A goals and implementing its strategy – one that ensures a culture of inclusion as an employer, and as an engaged and responsive regulator to the people of Ontario.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to the hardworking, dedicated executives and staff of the AGCO who have worked tirelessly to achieve all the agency’s undertakings and accomplishments in this last fiscal year.
2021-2022 was another transformative year for the agency and the Board of Directors is well- positioned to oversee the challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. We expect that the 2022- 2023 year will be another productive one as the AGCO continues to modernize its operations and regulatory frameworks in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and in the public interest.