The Criminal Code (Canada) establishes what types of gaming activities are permitted, and the provinces are assigned responsibility for operating, licensing and regulating permitted gaming activities.

In Ontario, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is responsible for regulating the following types of gaming activities.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) Lotteries

Under the Gaming Control Act, 1992 (GCA), the AGCO has responsibility for regulating lottery games conducted by the OLG.

The AGCO’s primary responsibilities in this respect include:

  • Registering lottery retailers/sellers, employees who exercise significant decision-making authority or supervisory or training responsibility in relation to lottery games, and suppliers of gaming-related and non-gaming related lottery equipment;
  • Establishing standards and requirements for the conduct, management and operation of lottery schemes, gaming sites and related businesses;
  • Testing and approving lottery equipment and procedures;
  • Conducting inspections of retailers to ensure compliance with the GCA and its regulation, the AGCO’s standards and requirements as well as the OLG’s Retailer Policy Manual; and
  • Investigating insider wins, suspicious wins and complaints of criminal activity against a retailer.

Casino Gaming

The AGCO regulates and oversees the 25 slots and casino locations in the province that are conducted and managed by the OLG.

The AGCO’s overarching regulatory objective is to ensure that all casino gaming is operated within the law and with honesty and integrity and in the broader public interest. The agency undertakes a number of key activities to fulfill its regulatory mandate including:

  • Conducting eligibility assessments and registering operators, suppliers and gaming assistants who work in or supply the casino sector;
  • Testing, approving and monitoring slot machines and gaming management systems;
  • Establishing standards and requirements for the conduct, management and operation of lottery schemes, gaming sites and related businesses;
  • Inspecting, auditing and monitoring casinos for compliance with the GCA and its regulation, licence/registration requirements and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing;
  • Approving rules of play or changes to the rules of play for games conducted and managed by the OLG;
  • Excluding persons from accessing gaming sites pursuant to the GCA; and
  • Maintaining OPP Casino Enforcement operations and presence to support a safe and secure environment at all gaming sites.

For more information about the AGCO’s role and activities in terms of testing, approval and inspection of slots and electronic gaming equipment, click here.

Charitable Gaming

The AGCO is responsible for regulating and overseeing licensed lottery events (such as bingo, raffles and the sale of break open tickets) conducted by eligible charitable and religious organizations to raise funds to support charitable purposes.

Some of the AGCO’s activities associated with this include:

  • Conducting eligibility assessments and registering operators, suppliers, retailers/sellers and gaming assistants who work in or supply the charitable sector;
  • Administering, in partnership with municipalities and First Nations Licensing Authorities, the regulatory framework governing the issuance of charity lottery licences (e.g. bingo, raffle and break open ticket events); and
  • Inspecting, auditing and monitoring charitable gaming events/facilities for compliance with the GCA and its regulation, licence/registration requirements and standards and requirements established by the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing.

Order-in-Council 1413/08 provides that the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing and municipal councils may issue lottery licences to charitable organizations. The AGCO and municipalities and First Nations licensing authorities work together to ensure that the legal requirements, including terms and conditions of the licences, are complied with by lottery licensees and any gaming suppliers used by the charities. The Registrar has issued a Lottery Licensing Policy Manual (LLPM), which is used to determine eligibility for a lottery licence and for the use of proceeds.  The LLPM sets out the types of lottery schemes for which a licence may be issued. The Registrar also issues “terms and conditions” for lottery licences, which provide detailed information on the conduct and management of licensed lottery events, which may be supplemented by municipalities or First Nations licensing authorities.

Electronic Raffles

The AGCO has also recently begun to develop a regulatory framework that will allow eligible charitable and religious organizations to conduct electronic raffles, including electronic 50/50 draws. Once complete, organizations licensed under this new framework will be able to use computers in the sale of raffle tickets, selection of raffle winners and distribution of raffle prizes in accordance with the parameters of that framework.  Up until December 2014, when changes were made to the federal Criminal Code, only provinces (in Ontario, the OLG) were permitted to use computers to conduct lottery schemes.  

OLG Charitable Gaming

In an effort to revitalize charitable bingo, the OLG is working in collaboration with the charitable industry to offer electronic games in bingo halls, with a portion of the proceeds going to charities. The types of electronic games offered include:

  • Electronic bingo (similar to traditional bingo played on paper)
  • Electronic break open ticket dispensers (TapTix)
  • Electronic shutterboard bingo
  • Play on Demand electronic games, accessed by players on individual computer screens

The AGCO is responsible for regulating these electronic bingo centres and some of its key activities associated with this include:

  • Conducting eligibility assessments and registering operators, suppliers/manufacturers, retailers/sellers and gaming assistants who work in or supply the electronic bingo centres;
  • Establishing standards and requirements for the conduct, management and operation of lottery schemes, gaming sites and related businesses;
  • Testing of electronic games by the AGCO Technical and Laboratory Services Branch for compliance with the technical standards developed by the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing; and
  • Regulatory assurance activities, including audits, inspections, and investigations, to ensure that the games and bingo centres are conducted in compliance with all applicable laws, regulations, standards and policies.

Internet Gaming

The OLG offers an internet gaming site (“PlayOLG”), which is the only online casino regulated by the province and the AGCO. The site includes interactive casino-style games including slots and table games such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Poker and Roulette, as well as the ability to purchase OLG lottery tickets online.

As with its other lines of business in the gaming sector, the AGCO performs a number of activities to ensure the OLG’s internet gaming platform is conducted with honesty and integrity, including:

  • Conducting eligibility assessments to determine whether applicants are suitable to be registered as suppliers and gaming assistants to work in or supply the OLG’s internet gaming site;
  • Conducting technical assessments, which includes analysis of the site’s random number generator software design; analysis of game design and verification of software functionality through mathematical analysis, simulation and emulation of the rules of play; and a thorough assessment of the platform’s security and testing for vulnerabilities; and
  • Conducting ongoing regulatory assurance activities, including regular audits, testing and site visits, to assess compliance with the GCA and the standards and requirements established by the Registrar of Alcohol, Gaming and Racing.
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