An important factor in Ontario’s public confidence in gaming is the integrity and fairness of the games and gaming systems in play. The AGCO, through its Technical and Laboratory Services Branch (i.e. “Gaming Lab”), is responsible for ensuring the integrity, security, fairness and audit capability of all electronic gaming hardware, software, associated equipment and gaming systems.
Assessment and Testing of Electronic Gaming Equipment and Systems
The AGCO Technical and Laboratory Services Branch conducts technical and regulatory assessments and testing of gaming equipment and systems against the Registrar’s Technical Standards and applicable Registrar’s Standards to ensure their technical integrity, safety, security, and accounting capability. This work is performed by our team of highly qualified and experienced experts in an in-house lab that is accredited to the international standard ISO 17025:2005, which is 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 AGCO Gaming Lab was created in 2004 and has been accredited to the ISO 17025:2005 standard since first pursing this accreditation in 2011.
Technical and regulatory assessments and testing of gaming equipment and systems cover a range of activities, including:
- Reviewing system architectures and game designs to identify areas of technical and regulatory risk;
- Assessing the impact of game designs on player fairness and responsible gambling;
- Evaluating sources of potential reliance, including our gaming-related suppliers’ software development processes and 3rd party certifications, to identify areas of greatest risk to focus assessment and testing efforts on; and
- Performing risk-based assessment and testing of gaming equipment and systems to ensure identified technical and regulatory risks have been mitigated.
The assessments and testing performed by the Gaming Lab involve many complex approaches, such as:
- Math: development of custom computer models to perform mathematical simulations and verification of game designs, including theoretical payback and award odds;
- Random Number Generators (RNGs): Statistical analysis of data sets with millions of data points to verify the randomness of both physical (i.e. hardware) and virtual (i.e. software) RNGs used to determine game outcomes and which are central to game integrity;
- Emulation: interrupting the computer programs during game play to force specific game outcomes and verify the accuracy of all game rules and prize payouts; and
- Interoperability: ensuring the interfaces and communication between different components of networked systems communicate and function properly, and are robust in real-world scenarios.
Technical and regulatory assessments and testing are performed for all gaming equipment and gaming systems in Ontario, including: Slot machines, electronic table games, card shufflers, random number generators, gaming management systems, including accounting and security systems, and cashless wagering systems.
Examination of Electronic Gaming Equipment and Systems
The AGCO Gaming Lab conducts technical examinations into suspect gaming equipment and systems by analyzing digital evidence from live games to determine the root cause of technical issues. The Gaming Lab is equipped with the same gaming equipment and systems used in gaming sites in Ontario, and is equipped with state-of-the-art test equipment that allows it to thoroughly analyze and examine all aspects of gaming equipment and systems.
Regulatory Approvals of Electronic Gaming Equipment and Systems
The Deputy Registrar’s Office issues regulatory approvals for gaming equipment and systems in Ontario based on the results of technical assessments and testing by the Gaming Lab. As part of issuing regulatory approvals, the office determines any necessary terms and conditions, field trials, and revocations based on risk.
Technical Standards and New Gaming Concepts Consultation
The Technical and Laboratory Services Branch continually innovates to stay abreast of rapidly advancing technology and game designs and uses this knowledge to evaluate and provide input regarding new gaming concepts, and develop and maintain the Registrar’s Technical Standards.
All gaming equipment and systems approved for use in Ontario must meet the following technical standards:
- Electronic Gaming Equipment Minimum Technical Standards
- Server-Assisted and Server-Based Gaming Minimum Technical Standards
(For information on these documents in French, please contact the AGCO’s Technical and Laboratory Services Branch at 416 326-5667.)
The Gaming Lab also consults with gaming-related suppliers and operators, providing advice regarding regulatory considerations for new gaming concepts, to help ensure regulatory compliance early in the development process of new gaming products. Gaming-related suppliers and operators are encouraged to reach out to the Gaming Lab with any concepts they wish to discuss or any questions they may have.
Costs and Service Levels
The Gaming Lab adheres to a self-funding model, recovering the staffing costs for its services by charging gaming-related suppliers for services it provides in assessing and testing gaming equipment and systems.
The Gaming Lab anonymously surveys gaming-related suppliers and operators regarding the level of service provided by the Gaming Lab annually. The results of this survey consistently demonstrate both gaming-related suppliers and operators are highly satisfied with the quality of service and professionalism they experience from the Gaming Lab.