What is the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario?
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is a regulatory agency overseeing Ontario, Canada, and regulating alcohol, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis retail in the province.
AGCO was founded in 1998 under the Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act. It has since been the regulator of all things gaming in the province and, as of 2021, it enforces the new Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Act.
Currently, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is managed by a board of directors, consisting of six members and a chair. There is also a Chief Executive Officer who works in tandem with the board, as well as a large team handling operations.
What does the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario do?
AGCO covers a wide range of topics, which includes regulating and managing alcohol, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis retail in Ontario.
The body outlines a detailed list of key activities, including:
- Develop regulatory standards (Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming).
- Determine eligibility and register iGaming operators and gaming-related suppliers to ensure the integrity of sector participants.
- Register independent testing labs (ITLs) that test and certify that iGaming technology meets the required Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.
- Monitor iGaming operators, suppliers, and digital game offerings for compliance with regulatory obligations, including the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.
- Where compliance concerns are identified, bring operators and suppliers back into compliance through the use of progressive sanctions, including warnings, suspensions, monetary penalties, and in the most serious of cases, revocations.
- Work with iGaming operators and suppliers to increase their understanding of regulatory obligations and to improve overall compliance.
- Address regulatory complaints and inquiries, including those related to game integrity and fairness, misuse of private information, responsible gambling violations, and money laundering.
In order to perform these activities, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario follows a mission statement:
The AGCO commits to conducting business in a manner that will:
- Develop, implement, and enforce fair policies and procedures
- Establish a framework of critical regulatory controls in the public interest that are sensitive to the economic viability of the alcohol, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis industries
- Be client-focused in the way we respond to and manage client and stakeholder needs
- Educate clients and stakeholders and develop partnerships
- Create a supportive work environment that respects and values AGCO staff contributions and provides them with opportunities for growth and professional achievement
Overall, AGCO focuses on monitoring, regulating, and managing alcohol, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis retail in the province. This is done by enforcing current legislation, as well as working with and supporting organizations that operate in those markets.
Why Ontario’s iGaming model will be an industry game changer
iGaming legislation changes, AGCO, and iGaming Ontario.
One key change to regulations in Ontario and Canada as a whole came with a new bill, C-218, which was passed in June 2021. This bill removed the prohibition of single-game betting in the country, opening up gambling and iGaming as a whole.
This had a significant impact on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, as it opened up many new avenues for gaming within the country and province, especially a large expansion of the iGaming market.
To manage this, the Ontario government created iGaming Ontario, a regulatory body to conduct and manage iGaming in Ontario. This new body serves as a direct subsidiary of AGCO, with the two working together to regulate and manage iGaming in Ontario.
While AGCO remains the key regulator for gaming in the province, iGaming Ontario manages partnerships with operators, including overseeing the implementation of policies and operator compliance.
Read more in our article: Becoming compliant in Ontario’s iGaming market