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Ontario sports betting standards restrict marketing, but not product


The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has published draft sports betting regulations for the province, with restrictions on marketing similar to Ontario’s proposed online casino rules.

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

Operators will be allowed to take bets on individual sporting events, after a bill to permit single-event wagering was signed into law. Before this, only bets on three or more events were permitted.

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) pointed out that the rules do not include any product restrictions, as betting exchanges, daily fantasy sports, esports bets, and live in-game wagering all permitted.

Many of the standards are based on the proposed rules for online casino gaming, which were published earlier this month.

These rules that apply to both verticals include restrictions on advertising. As well as prohibiting advertising that may appeal to minors or be misleading, ads for bonuses are not allowed, except for on operator websites.

Marketing may not appear close to schools or contain figures – either real or fictional characters – that primarily appeal to minors.

Operators must have responsible gambling policies and provide responsible gambling training. These policies must be regularly reviewed through consultations with experts and stakeholders.

Looking at rules specific to sports betting, integrity rules have been introduced banning those with non-public information about an event to place bets.

Operators must report suspicious betting activity to an independent integrity monitoring provider, which must notify the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario Registrar of this activity.

Bets must also only occur on events where results can be determined “by a reliable and independent process” and where the majority of participants are at least 18 years old.

In addition, bets on multiple events must be clearly identified as parlay bets, and the rules state that betting offerings “shall help to prevent extended, continuous and impulsive play”, though did not elaborate on this.

All bets and payouts must be also expressed in Canadian currency.

The draft rules are out for consultation until 18 August. Stakeholders may submit opinions on the laws up until that date.

“The CGA will continue to play a lead role in helping to shape Ontario’s new sports betting landscape,” the CGA said. “We are consulting with our sports betting, eSports, and supplier members on a collective industry response as the AGCO is seeking feedback and very much wants to hear from the operators.”

In addition to the marketing restrictions and other provisions that also applied to sports betting, the online casino rules published earlier this month also included a number of strict game design requirements. This included a ban on auto-play for slots, while spin speed must be at least 2.5 seconds, with features to reduce this also prohibited.

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.