Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) recently issued nine more one-year iGaming licenses. The move aims to introduce more competition to a highly lucrative market previously dominated by offshore companies that now operate in somewhat of a gray area.
Three Companies Shared the Licenses
Seven of the nine new brands debuting in the Canadian province belong to operator Apollo Entertainment LTD, a subsidiary of gaming industry supplier Games Global. The developer was established in 2021 and only received its license this February, so it is a relative newcomer to the market. However, the company has quickly expanded and now seeks to secure a niche in the lucrative Canadian market.
The remaining two licenses went to Boyd Gaming subsidiary Pala Interactive and GWN Limited, a Betsson-owned brand. The companies are experienced players in the gambling business, and their entry into Ontario will likely cause a stir for the competition.
Unlicensed Operators May Pose a Problem
Issuing so many new licenses at once is bound to cause a disturbance in Ontario’s still young iGaming industry. The Canadian province officially opened its doors to operators on 4 April, and the region has experienced unprecedented interest from operators.
AGCO’s decision to allow nine new brands in an already turbulent market likely stems at least partially from the regulator’s efforts to curb the dominance of offshore operators who dominated Ontario’s iGaming scene before online gambling’s legalization. According to Wall Street analysts, the so-called “gray market operators” had already gathered substantial momentum, meaning newcomers would have to fight an uphill battle to secure a foothold. Furthermore, Canada’s lax regulation allowed these companies to continue servicing clients while applying for a license, potentially stifling competition.
Ontario’s Gaming Market Still Has Room to Grow
If the nine new brands can beat the odds and attract sufficient interest from players, they will secure a foothold in one of the fastest-growing markets in North America. According to the official statistics for the first quarter of legalized iGaming in Ontario, operators reported combined revenue of CA$162 million ($123.8 million). The betting handle for this period reached a respectable CA$4.08 billion ($3.11 billion), indicating that the province’s iGaming scene is off to a good start.
Data comparing Ontario to similar-sized US states suggests that there is still ample room for growth. AGCO has already proven its willingness to enforce its regulations with several substantial fines for high-profile operators who violated the institution’s strict rules on advertising. If the willingness to grant new licenses is any indicator, the regulator hopefully aims to phase away the gray market and rely solely on operators within its jurisdiction.