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Ontario bans autoplay for slots in new igaming regulations


Ontario’s new online gambling regulator has published rules for the channel as the provincial market prepares for launch, outlining a ban on auto-play and a minimum spin speed of 2.5 seconds for slots.

Currently, only the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation may offer online gaming, but that is set to change with the provincial government taking steps to liberalise the market.

Last week, the province’s government launched iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of the state’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which has now laid out rules for online casino games.

A number of requirements governing game design will be in place, including a ban on auto-play for slots.

“A player should commit to each game individually, releasing and then depressing the ‘start button’ or taking equivalent action,” the rules state.

Spin speed, meanwhile, must be at least 2.5 seconds, with features to reduce this also prohibited.

In addition, split-screen or multi-screen slot play is also banned, and 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.

Similar rules for game design were brought into effect in Great Britain earlier this year, after having been implemented by most leading operators in 2020.

Games must also show players’ net position on that game – in Canadian dollars rather than in “credits” – at all times.

Players must also have the ability to set limits on their deposits.

Turning to marketing, this must not “be based on themes, or use language, intended to appeal primarily to minors.” In addition, it 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.

Canada is also set to allow single-event sports betting, after a bill overturning a requirement for bets to be on multiple sporting events at once was signed into law. The bill, C-218, was passed by the legislature last month.