AGCO Outlines Rules for Online Casino Games

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has published its initial rules for iGaming in the province.

The Registrar’s Standards for Internet Gaming, expected to come into force when Ontario’s regulated gaming market launches in late 2021, include the prohibition of auto-play for online slot games and the enforcement of a minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds.

“A player should commit to each game individually, releasing and then depressing the ‘start button’ or taking equivalent action,” the rules state. Features intended to reduce slot spin speed will also be prohibited.

Those will be among a number of requirements in place to govern game design and operation.

Other regulations laid out by the AGCO, which has launched an iGaming Ontario subsidiary that is mandated with facilitating the creation of a safe, regulated, and competitive online gaming market within Ontario, include the banning of split-screen or multi-screen slot play, and the directive that games should not give the impression that skill or speed of play can affect the results.
The celebration of “losses disguised as wins” – when a player wins less than their original stake but receives an animation similar to that for a win – is also not permitted.

Games must also show players’ net position on that game – in Canadian dollars rather than in “credits” – at all times, and players must have the ability to set limits on their deposits.

Meanwhile, marketing for these games must not “be based on themes, or use language, intended to appeal primarily to minors.” In addition, such advertising may not appear close to schools or contain figures – either real or fictional characters – that primarily appeal to minors.

Gambling ads must also not “exploit the susceptibilities, aspirations, credulity, inexperience or lack of knowledge of all potentially high-risk persons, or otherwise extoll the virtues of gaming” or “entice or attract potentially high-risk players”. Instead, operators should take efforts to limit advertising to high-risk players. In addition, marketing may not be misleading or suggest that gambling is a path to financial success.

Advertisements to market bonus offers are also only allowed to be offered on operator websites.

Operators must also offer players information both about the potential harm gambling can cause and about options such as self-exclusion. All operators and suppliers must agree to a code of conduct regarding conflicts of interest, transparency and dealing with the regulator.

Operators must have responsible gambling policies and provide responsible gambling training. These policies must be regularly reviewed through consultations with experts and stakeholders. In addition, gambling operators should perform risk-based anti-money laundering checks.

The full regulatory standards can be found here.

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