Not All AGCO-Approved Online Gambling Sites Are Live Yet

Ontario Has More Approved Online Gambling Operators Than Most US States

Ontario is five approved online gambling operators away from catching up to New Jersey.

That’s significant because the Garden State is renowned for having the most operators of any state in America. So at 34 sites, Canada‘s most populous province has more approved operators than most US online casino states.

New Jersey, though, houses 39 “internet gaming sites.” New Jersey also has 25 “online sports pools.” Many of them are the same operators, such as Caesars Casino and Caesars Sportsbook.

Considering there are so many New Jersey online gambling sites that it’s where most new ones launch test apps, Ontario may soon become a North American online casino leader.

That’s especially notable, considering the Ontario iGaming market just added private operators beginning on April 4. Until then, only Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) could offer legal online betting.

So in less than a month, Ontario approved nearly as many sites as are live in New Jersey.

Meanwhile in the Garden State, online casino and online poker sites began launching on Nov. 21, 2013. Online sportsbooks joined them in June 2018.

So undoubtedly through the years, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has regulated more far operators in total than Ontario.

However, here’s where the comparisons  to the current marketplaces get even trickier.

What Ontario online gambling operator approvals mean

Yesterday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) approved Malta-based SkillOnNet as an internet gaming operator.

The online casino software provider says on its site that it offers more than 3,000 slots and table games. It’s listed as the entity AGCO approved for Nos. 32-34 on the regulator’s list.

Here’s what AGCO approved from SkillOnNet:

  • PlayOJO
  • SpinGenie
  • SlotsMagic

Although, SkillOnNet still needs to secure an operating agreement from iGaming Ontario (iGO) before it can launch those sites.

Speaking of launching sites, iGO only lists 21 operators as being “fully registered and approved Operators in Ontario.”

None of those SkillOnNet sites are among them.

Only the OLG is exempt from iGO’s rule of obtaining an operating agreement. However, OLG is listed among AGCO’s 34 approved entities.

Further confusing matters, the AGCO and iGO lists are structured differently.

For instance, AGCO lists Gibraltar-based 888 as one entry and iGO counts it thrice: 888casino, 888poker and 888sport.

Granted, DGE does the same for that exact operator, listing 888 three times.

However, all 39 of New Jersey’s online gambling sites have launched their sites. That’s not yet true of Ontario’s approved operators.

Ontario’s iGaming operators continue to strike deals

Ontario’s expanded iGaming marketplace already looks different from what it was on April 4, when 13 operators launched apps.

Its face changed on April 19, when Guernsey-based Super Group (SGHC) received AGCO approval for Betway. Eight Betway URLs united to become AGCO’s 30th regulated entity, under SGHC’s Alderney-headquartered Cadway Limited.

The marketplace saw more movement yesterday. Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International announced plans to buy the Swedish LeoVegas Group for $607 million.

Both have live apps in Ontario’s marketplace:

  • Jersey City, NJ-based BetMGM is jointly operated by MGM and Isle of Man-headquartered Entain
  • LeoVegas Group owns LeoVegas and Royal Panda

Connecticut-based Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE) announced another change to Ontario’s iGaming marketplace today. MGE will offer mobile sports betting on PlayFallsview through a partnership with Malta-headquartered Kambi Group.

Kambi became active on March 16 in Ontario as a “game-related supplier,” according to AGCO.

Rich Roberts, president of Mohegan Digital for MGE, said:

“Once launched, this will mark MGE’s first online mobile gaming product outside of the United States and we’re really looking forward to our partnership with Kambi Group on this new venture.”

The reason this timeline seems different from those of other private online gambling operators is that MGE is the OLG’s service provider for Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls. OLG was the only legal operator in Ontario before April 4.

Being a retail casino provider presented different online gambling licensing hurdles, Roberts said in December 2021.

Ontario still missing DraftKings

Ontario’s iGaming marketplace isn’t done expanding.

At least one more operator, possibly more, may have pending applications.

The main name still noticeably absent today from Ontario’s approved online gambling operators is Boston-based DraftKings.

Its major US competitors, including BetMGM and FanDuel, have already launched in Ontario.

DraftKings shows interest in launching there.

In addition to setting up shop in Canada last year, DraftKings got going with its brand awareness marketing.

On Feb. 18 during the Q4 2021 earnings call, Jason Robins – DraftKings’ co-founder, CEO and board chairman – said:

“We look forward to launching in Ontario and competing in that market, pending licensure and required approvals. For context, Ontario represents about 40% of Canada’s population and would be the fifth-largest US state by population.”

On April 21, AGCO spokesman Raymond Kahnert told Online Poker Report:

“With respect to your questions about DraftKings, the AGCO does not discuss the status of applications due to privacy considerations, including whether individuals or entities have submitted an application.”

DraftKings Senior Communications Director Stephen Miraglia told OPR today he had no updates:

“DraftKings is working closely with provincial regulators to bring our top-rated mobile sportsbook and casino products to Ontario as soon as possible.”

New Jersey’s upcoming operators

It seems like New Jersey’s online gambling marketplace is always growing.

Brands that may launch this year include:

  • Stockholm-based PlayStar Casino through the license of Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City
  • LeoVegas
  • PlayOJO

At that point, New Jersey will have more than 40 online casino sites.

Ontario isn’t quite there yet.

- Heather Fletcher is the lead writer with OnlinePokerReport. She's a career journalist, with bylines in The New York Times, Adweek and other publications. Reach her at [email protected]
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