Ontario iGaming Moves Forward as ITLs Can Register

The move toward an open market of online gaming for Ontario is gaining speed in 2021. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced the start of the public consultation process last month. And this month, the regulator opened the registration process for Independent Testing Labs, also known as ITLs. Those businesses can now submit their applications in anticipation of working with igaming operators and suppliers in the new market.

ITL Applications Open

On April 23, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) officially welcomed ITLs to start the application process. Once the commission approves an ITL, it can begin to provide services to online gaming operators and suppliers that will enable them to enter the igaming market in Ontario.

An ITL, Independent Testing Lab, is a company that tests and certifies internet games, everything from virtual slot machines to table games and online poker. ITLs have become incredibly important in markets like the United States to verify the legitimacy and fairness of games for regulatory approvals.

The first ITL came into existence in 1989, as Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) as a company to certify land-based gambling equipment for tribal casinos. The scope of their services expanded through the years. Today, the ITL is a critical element of igaming certification. GLI remains the most well-known of ITLs, but others such as BMM have become competitive as well.

Some of their responsibilities can include:

  • Testing random number generator (RNG) equipment for randomness and fairness
  • Remotely test equipment at server locations
  • Verify software and internal testing processes for manufacturers
  • Provide game inventory management oversight
  • Identify areas of improvement and growth through new technologies
  • Protect companies against fraudulent practices and outside influences
  • Match testing to regulatory requirements
  • Provide training and tools to operators’ employees
  • Ensure compliance with responsible gaming (RG) initiatives
  • Submit certification to regulators like AGCO

Companies seeking approval in the new market must register with the AGCO to then begin the application process to be a gaming-related supplier.

Gathering Open Engagement Info

The AGCO is collecting and organizing all of the information submitted by the public sector recently. The regulator opened an online portal so industry stakeholders could provide suggestions and engage with the AGCO on a range of issues. This was all to help draft the Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming.

The framework will be detailed and likely set a precedent for other territories seeking to open their igaming markets to new operators. Therefore, the AGCO wants the framework to be comprehensive.

Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General and Ministry of Finance opened the input portal on March 3. They closed it this just month on April 16.

The matter of considering all recommendations is now in the hands of Birgitte Sand, the recently-appointed Commercial Project Lead for iGaming in Ontario. Her goal is to establish a framework that will allow for fair competition while preserving game integrity, ensuring fair and safe play, and preventing gambling harm. And the framework will allow suppliers and operators to easily work with the AGCO to meet requirements and provide services without unnecessary delays.

Sand will likely publish the compliance report of expectations and framework detail sometime in May 2021. This will lead to Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey forming and declaring the new arm of the AGCO that will focus solely on internet gaming.

Ultimately, interested parties can expect the final version of the Ontario igaming framework to be finalized by the fall months of 2021. The goal is to allow operators to be fully approved, prepared, and launching games by the end of 2021.

 

 

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer Newell has been writing about poker and gambling since 2004. From her days in the WPT offices to covering summers of WSOP tournament action, she also followed gambling legislation to Washington D.C. and women-only poker to the Bahamas. Meanwhile, she lived in Los Angeles and Las Vegas for many years before moving back to her hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. Now, Jen travels less, writing about poker and online gambling from her home with her two dogs watching her every move. In her spare time, she follows politics, works on her never-finished novels, and learns Italian in the hopes of retiring to Italy someday.

If you want to know more, you can follow Jen on Twitter @WriterJen

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