The Standards-Based Approach
Under the Gaming Control Act, 1992 (GCA) the Registrar is authorized to establish risk-based standards to regulate Ontario’s gaming sector. The objective of a standards-based regulatory model is to shift the focus from requiring registrants to comply with a specific set of rules or processes, which tend to be prescriptive in nature, towards the broader regulatory outcomes or objectives they are expected to achieve. These regulatory outcomes are reflected in the “Standards” established herein.
In most cases, these Standards are drafted at a high level of generality, with the aim being to capture the purpose behind the rule. This offers greater flexibility for regulated entities to determine the most efficient and effective way of meeting the outcomes required, which in turn helps reduce regulatory burden and support market innovation. Since there may be many ways for a registrant to meet the Standards, they have the flexibility to determine what works best for their business, thereby strengthening regulatory outcomes without needlessly burdening regulated entities. Further, the flexibility inherent in a Standards-Based model allows the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to focus its resources on key risks and to deliver a modernized approach to gaming regulation in a rapidly evolving industry.
OLG (Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation), iGaming Ontario, Operators, and gaming-related suppliers are required to comply with the GCA and Regulation 78/12. Specifically, Sections 3.8 and 3.9 of the GCA require registrants, employees and other persons retained by OLG and iGaming Ontario to comply with the Standards and Requirements established by the Registrar. The GCA provides the Registrar with the authority to establish Standards and Requirements for the conduct, management and operation of gaming sites, lottery schemes or businesses related to a gaming site or a lottery scheme or for related goods or services.
To Whom the Standards Apply
Standards and Requirements established by the Registrar will apply to OLG with respect to its internet gaming site, to iGaming Ontario with respect to its activities, and to all registered internet gaming Operators in Ontario. Additionally, certain Standards and Requirements also apply to registered gaming-related suppliers.
Operators are expected to ensure that the Standards related to the operation of their gaming site are met, regardless of the entity that is carrying out the related activities. Depending on the circumstances, the Registrar may hold an Operator, a gaming-related supplier, or both, accountable for meeting a particular Standard.
The Registrar may direct any registered supplier to comply with any additional Standards and Requirements, as considered necessary to enhance and preserve the integrity of and public confidence in gaming in Ontario. The Registrar may also propose additional terms of registration specific to an Operator or other registrant to give effect to the purposes of the GCA.
Standards and Requirements for Sport and Event Betting
The AGCO recognizes that sport and event betting is an integral part of internet gaming. The AGCO has taken an integrated approach where the standards and requirements for sport and event betting are embedded within the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming. This integrated structure means that the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming will generally apply to sport and event betting. The standards and requirements apply to all sports, esports, novelty, betting exchange, and fantasy sports products, and includes various bet types such as single-event, in-game, pool, parlay, and exchange bets. Virtual sports are not a type of sport and event betting, thus standards specific to sport and event betting do not apply.
The Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming — Composition
This document includes only the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, applicable to regulated internet gaming sites in Ontario.
The “Standards and Requirements” are divided into the six identified risk themes, under which theme-specific Standards and Requirements are provided. The six identified risk themes which make up the “Standards and Requirements” include:
- Entity Level
- Responsible Gambling
- Prohibiting Access to Designated Groups and Player Account Management
- Ensuring Game Integrity and Player Awareness
- Information Security and Protection of Assets
- Minimizing Unlawful Activity Related to Gaming
For certain Standards, further and more explicit direction is provided through one or more specific “Requirements”. These Requirements establish the minimum obligations a registrant must achieve to fulfill the corresponding Standard.
Included as part of a number of the Standards and Requirements is a corresponding section which provides regulatory guidance specific to the given standard or requirement. Guidance serves to provide registrants with greater clarity as to the purpose or intent behind a given Standard or Requirement.