The AGCO is Ontario’s regulator for the sale and service of alcohol, horse racing, retail cannabis, and lottery and gaming, including the expanded provincial internet gaming (igaming) market. The AGCO has long strived to be at the forefront of modern industry regulation, and over this past year, it was well positioned to regulate effectively and respond to industry needs during the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
The AGCO is required under the Agencies and Appointments Directive to annually provide a multi-year Business Plan to the Attorney General. This Business Plan sets out AGCO’s core strategy for the next three fiscal years, including the initiatives for the upcoming year that will be undertaken toward this strategy.
The AGCO’s Strategic Plan sets out the following three strategic goals: Modern Regulator, Service Excellence, and People First. These goals align with and support the achievement of the AGCO’s mandate and key government objectives for enhanced accountability and efficiency in delivering public services; evidence-based decision making and policy development, reducing the administrative burden on businesses; and increasing consumer choice.
As the AGCO enters the third year of its five-year Strategic Plan, the organization remains focused on its strategic goals while continuing to evolve its regulatory and business functions in support of government objectives. The AGCO continues to strive to successfully meet its expanding regulatory mandate within Ontario’s complex alcohol, lottery and gaming, horse racing, and retail cannabis sectors.
For 2022-23, the AGCO’s strategic corporate projects will include continued modernization of its regulatory frameworks for gaming and liquor, completing its work to address the 2020 Value for Money Audit of AGCO by the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario and implementing a focussed diversity, inclusion and accessibility strategy.
The AGCO will continue to apply its risk-based, outcomes-based, and compliance-focused approach to regulation. This provides greater flexibility for regulated entities in terms of how they achieve regulatory compliance and enables the AGCO to more effectively manage risks while prioritizing resources to ensure its approach to regulation is fair and responsive to sector needs while protecting the public interest.
In July 2021, the government announced that iGaming Ontario, a new subsidiary of the AGCO, will conduct and manage the new online gaming (igaming) offerings in the province. It will also help establish Ontario as an international leader in online gaming while ensuring robust measures are in place to protect consumers. iGaming Ontario anticipates that it will be fully operational in early 2022. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) will continue to conduct and manage its own igaming offerings through OLG.ca.
iGaming Ontario’s principal activities will be the conduct and management of igaming offerings and revenue generation for the province. To achieve these, iGaming Ontario will enter into an operating agreement with private operators on behalf of the province and determine which types and categories of games are permitted to be offered to players. This will enable private operators to offer a version of their games to consumers within Ontario’s regulated framework in exchange for a defined revenue share paid to the operator. This model is intended to bring operators and suppliers currently operating outside of Ontario’s regulated igaming market into it.
The igaming model was developed by the provincial government based on various considerations, including the need to be compliant with the Criminal Code (Canada), as well as experience and feedback from stakeholders and private operators potentially interested in participating in Ontario’s new regulated market. iGaming Ontario will begin to produce a Business Plan in fiscal 2022-23 once it is operational.
The AGCO’s role as regulator for all legal gaming activities in Ontario will remain the same and will be kept separate from the subsidiary’s role.