Online Casino Licensing in Canada Explained

The majority of Canadians play at online casinos operated by overseas entities. This is mainly because most provinces and territories in the country do not have an official iGaming licensing authority in place.

Currently, the only province in which a government-run iGaming license is Ontario. While many other provinces and territories do have a gambling authority in place, they do not have a framework for online gambling businesses to operate. On the other hand, Ontario’s provincially run Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has a subsidiary that deals specifically with overseeing the registration of iGaming companies.

Below we look at the differences between playing at an overseas versus Ontario-licensed online casino.

Why do many Canadians still play at Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) Casinos?

The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) is one of the most reputable iGaming licensing authorities in the business. Canadians, even in Ontario where there is a provincial license authority in place, can register for a casino under the MGA license.

Pros of playing at an MGA-Licensed Casino in Canada

  • Thousands of Casinos: One highlighted benefit to having access to MGA casinos is that there are thousands to choose from and they come with full reviews courtesy of online casino portals like These portals review and rate casinos operating under the MGA license as well as casinos operating under other licensing authorities such as the CEG and UKGC.
  • Thousands of Games: For a software provider to offer its casino game portfolio to an MGA-licensed casino it must gain approval. There are over 200 registered with the MGA, so there are plenty of games available at most casinos. What’s more, every game must pass a statutory algorithm test to guarantee RNGs deliver random results.
  • Guaranteed Customer Support: MGA casinos are obliged to resolve every casino complaint.
  • MGA Player protection: There is an MGA casino complaints service, and the authority guarantees it will answer every ticket opened.
  • Mediation Services: If the player/casino cannot reach an agreement over a casino dispute, the MGA offers free mediation services.
  • Financial/Bankruptcy Protection: Casinos must not mix player casino balances with their day-to-day funds. Instead, the casino operates separate bank accounts that are not part of the casino’s balance sheet or cash flow. Therefore, auditors must ignore player balances if the casino runs into financial difficulty.
  • Guaranteed T&Cs: The casino’s stated terms and conditions are binding. If the casino misrepresents any information, players have a case to make a complaint with the full backing of the MGA-licensing authority.

Cons of playing at an MGA-Licensed Casino in Canada

  • Ontario players cannot access some games: The rules state that once a software provider registers with the iGO, Ontario citizens must not be able to access games on any overseas casinos. I.e., online gambling platforms that are not permitted to operate under the AGCO framework. Therefore, some software providers like Evolution, Play’n GO, Wazdan and Pragmatic Play block access from Ontario IPs.

Why do Ontario players choose to play at AGCO-licensed casinos?

Under the AGCO rules, software providers, aggregator platforms, and operators must register with the iGaming Ontario (iGO) subsidiary. If accepted, the company then has a license to offer B2B and/or B2C services in the province. Some players in Ontario then fall under the protection of local laws. However, the market only began on 4 April 2022, and as such, there are some pros and cons to joining an online casino for Ontario-based players.

Pros of playing at an MGA-Licensed Casino in Canada

  • Guaranteed Customer Support: Casinos must resolve all complaints to the satisfaction of the casino member.
  • Complaints Services & Ontario Legal Status: Players that have unresolved casino disputes can directly contact the AGCO. If the matter becomes a legal dispute, local laws and courts apply.
  • Bankruptcy Protection: The AGCO keeps tabs on all casino finances. Also, as with the MGA license, separate bank accounts are in use for player funds.
  • Guaranteed T&Cs: All T&Cs stated by the casino are legally binding.

Cons of playing at an MGA-Licensed Casino in Canada

  • Few Software Providers: Due to strict regulations, and a high risk of fines, some software providers are avoiding the Ontario iGaming market. This means there are only a handful of software providers currently operating within the Ontario iGaming market.
  • Fewer Casinos: There are only around 20 Ontario licensed online casinos.

Will other States Soon Follow Ontario’s Example?

During Q3 2022, the market’s second quarter in action, there were over C$ 6 billion in bets made across all online gambling verticals and a revenue of C$ 267 million. From that comes plenty of tax dollars. Once other provinces and territories in Canada see that the Ontario iGaming is successful, they will most likely follow suit.

Photo: Unsplash