Ontario Regulators to Seek Bids for Centralized Online Gambling Self-Exclusion Program

A centralized self-exclusion online gambling program in Ontario has been announced. iGaming Ontario intends to issue a request for proposals in early 2024 for a centralized self-exclusion solution and a Notice of Proposed Procurement has been posted, with a closing date of March 6, 2024. The new program aims to provide players with a centralized self-exclusion system that integrates with all operator systems. It will also support players’ self-exclusion registration, renewal, and reinstatement on all Ontario regulated igaming operators in a single registration process.

Currently, all private igaming operators in Ontario must abide by the guidelines and principles set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Sections 2.13 and 2.14 outline the guidelines for self-exclusion and breaks in play. Operators must give users the option to take a break in play, in addition to a formal self-exclusion program. There’s also an exclaimer in the guidelines that states: “operators will be required to participate in a coordinated, centralized self-exclusion program, that shall be in place to allow players to automatically exclude themselves from all online operator platforms, including OLG.”

The creation of the centralized self-exclusion program aims to close the loophole exploited by some gamblers in the early days of Ontario’s regulated igaming market in 2022. A separate program, My PlayBreak, was introduced by OLG, which enables gamblers to make a commitment to take a break from gaming activities offered by OLG for a defined period of time.

The announcement of the new program has been welcomed by local mental health organizations and responsible gambling advocates, who see it as essential to the long-term success of the regulated igaming market in the province and player health. In addition, the AGCO is enhancing its advertising standards with player protection in mind, prohibiting the use of celebrities and athletes in operator advertisements, unless they’re used to deliver a responsible gambling message or to promote products. A bill has been tabled at the federal level with the aim to establish a national framework on advertising for sports betting in Canada. Bill S-269 is currently in its second reading at the Senate.

These developments signal a positive shift towards more responsible and secure online gambling practices in Ontario.