When NY Online Casinos Become Legal, Regulators Should Look To Ontario For Notes

Written By Matt Boecker on July 28, 2023
toronto ontario skyline at night

New Yorkers are tired of being forced to travel to neighboring states to play licensed online casino games. But the prolonged wait for NY online casinos does give lawmakers the opportunity to learn from successful markets.

It seemed certain the New York State Gaming Commission was going to legalize online casinos 2023. But after it was left off the one-house budgets in the Assembly and Senate in March, those hopes were quickly deflated.

Frustration is growing among residents that look forward to mobile casinos in NY. Maybe we’re just being optimistic, but the delayed regulation could be a positive as it gives New York the chance to take notes on how successful markets operate, like the one in Ontario.

We’re going to review the Ontario market and discuss how NY could adapt to be more like its neighbors to the north once mobile casinos receive licensing.

Ontario’s robust betting market

Ontario’s countless number of gaming operators puts the New York market to shame. Ontario has the most online casinos and/or sportsbooks of any North American jurisdiction.

That includes 48 online gaming operators. Of that total, 30 offer both sports betting and online casinos.

That towers in comparison to the nine New York sportsbooks. So Ontario has fewer citizens, yet they have far more gaming options to choose from.

Another unique thing about the province’s wagering market is the presence of European-based operators. Fitzdares, BetVictor and Unibet are all popular gaming operators headquartered overseas.

NY could certainly benefit from passing out more gaming licenses to sportsbooks. Then, when NY online casinos get the green light, each sportsbook can get the opportunity to seamlessly apply for an online casino license.

Seeing how tough it’s been for pro-online casino lawmakers to push that through to legislation, it’s a reach to even wish NY would allow European operators. So for now, we’ll just stick with asking the NYSGC for more sportsbooks.

For the Empire State gaming market to reach its full potential, it will need more than nine sportsbooks and online casinos.

ACGO has a tight leash on betting advertisements

In New York, the body that regulates gaming operators is the NYSGC. In Ontario, they’ve got the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (ACGO), and they rule with an iron fist.

Especially when it comes to betting advertisements. For example, rule 2.05 prohibits advertising and marketing from spreading “gambling inducements, bonuses and credits.”

That’s right. Sportsbooks and online casinos can’t even advertise the specifics of their bonuses. The only places they can do so is their own website and through messaging sent directly to players that provide consent.

The ACGO is looking to take it a step further by proposing a ban on the following groups of people from appearing in betting advertising and marketing:

  • Active and retired athletes
  • Cartoon characters
  • Celebrities
  • Social media influencers
  • Symbols or role models who appeal to minors

By doing so, the ACGO hopes to eliminate the attraction of underage residents to gambling.

The NYSGC’s advertising and marketing laws aren’t this strict, but the group is taking steps in that direction. Earlier this year, the NYSGC unanimously voted to enact stricter advertising and promotions laws.

The main reason for the new regulations is to prevent “the advertising and marketing of sports wagering at college and university campuses, and generally regarding promotional language.”

This was certainly a positive advancement, but more will need to be done. A concern many lawmakers have with legalizing online casinos is a coinciding increase in problem gamblers in NY.

This makes it more important than ever to put forth every effort to limit problem gambling.

Photo by PlayNY
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Matt Boecker

Born in Oak Lawn, Illinois, Matt graduated from Northern Illinois University, where he covered NIU hockey for the Northern Star. Since then, Matt has specialized in NFL and NBA coverage for various websites and podcasts before shifting gears to casino and sports betting coverage.

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