Ontario regulators posted a list of operators with pending applications for internet gaming licenses online on Tuesday, but the website had changed the next day to only display operators that were fully licensed.
Canada Gaming Review sent officials with iGaming Ontario (iGO) and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) a screenshot of an iGO website that was taken Tuesday when it listed the operators with pending applications. The officials did not respond to requests to verify the information.
If accurate, the screenshot confirms that DraftKings is in the process of securing licensure with the AGCO and concluding an operating agreement with the iGO — both prerequisites for an operator offering online poker, casino gaming, or sports betting in Ontario.
But the screenshot also raises some serious questions about PokerStars Ontario — and provincial regulators — because the operator is not listed as being in the process of acquiring a license despite PokerStars stating in February that it planned to launch in the province.
The screenshot also shows a discrepancy with the application of NSUS Limited, the parent company of GGPoker. GGPoker will power WSOP when it launches in Ontario.
While the AGCO lists WSOP.ca as the domain for the operator, the screenshot shows the iGO listed the domain as GGPoker.ca. It’s not clear if the discrepancy was a filing error or shows that GGPoker’s plans have changed. GGPoker has stated that it will delay launching WSOP in the province.
The iGO is responsible for overseeing Ontario iGaming when provided through private operators.
An Advantage For Some Operators
The AGCO wants all operators, and any third party companies they work with, to exit the grey market. However, the regulator has said it will allow operators that have started the licensing process but have yet to execute their iGO operating agreements, to temporarily continue their existing activities in the grey market.
That means such operators will be allowed to continue offshore operations. In PokerStars’ case, this would be through its multi-jurisdictional gaming license in Malta. By allowing this accommodation, regulators have in effect created a two-tiered system for online poker in Ontario, at least in the short term.
Ontario online poker, sports betting, and casino gaming went live on Monday. The 13 brands that have executed iGO operating agreements launched on Day One. All 13 operators launched sportsbooks, but three of the brands — Caesars, Rivalry, and theScore Bet — launched sports products only, while the other 10 all entered the real money Ontario online casinos market as well.
The regulated poker market will start as a head-to-head competition for customers between 888 and BetMGM. Meanwhile, PokerStars, GGPoker, and others will continue to serve the market from offshore. They will hold an advantage over their rivals in the regulated sphere — again, at least in the short term — because they can offer customers access to a global player pool.
What the iGO Screenshot Shows
The screenshot of the iGO website shows 13 companies are in the process of acquiring an operating agreement with the iGO. It also shows that three of the 13 have already registered with the AGCO. That checks out with the information currently posted by the AGCO and suggests that the rest of the information from the screenshot is likely accurate.
Crown DK CAN LTD, a DraftKings entity, is in the process of acquiring a license, according to the screenshot. GGPoker is, too.