International online gaming giant 888 Holdings PLC has confirmed that it has received on of the new iGaming licenses issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), Canada’s most populous province. The license will allow 888 to roll its online-poker brand, 888poker, along with its online casino and sports products. 888’s operations in Ontario will be overseen by AGCO’s iGaming Ontario (iGO) regulatory entity.
Ontario’s new regulated online-gambling market is slated to open on April 4, 2022. The province includes Canada’s most populous city, Toronto, and it is home to nearly 15 million residents, or more than 38% of Canada’s entire population.
Several prominent international iGaming brands are expected to announce their Ontario licenses in the coming weeks, though the licensing process hasn’t been without difficulties or legal challenges. Several of Canada’s First Nations have been angered by Ontario’s licensing procedures, and one of them, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation, last month announced its plans to sue, citing the lack of consideration given to “accommodate impacted Indigenous groups.”
However, even an agreement or settlement favoring the Mississaugas’ and other First Nations’ interests would be unlikely to scuttle the new Ontarian iGaming plans at this stage, even if they were granted the right to join at a later date.
Ontario becomes 888 Holdings’ 19th locally regulated market
With the pending addition of Ontario, 888 Holdings will offer its online gambling services in 19 “locally” regulated markets, meaning within a single state or province rather than across an entire country. 888’s local licensing also includes seven U.S. states. At the present time, according to 888, the local markets represent nearly three-fourths (74%) of 888’s global revenue, a figure likely to be boosted even higher in a few weeks.
“We are delighted to have been awarded a licence by the AGCO and look forward to launching in the market when it officially opens,” said 888 Holdings’ CEO, Itai Pazner. “As a Group, our focus is on strengthening our presence and offer to customers across key regulated markets. To that end, Ontario represents an attractive long-term growth opportunity for 888 and this is an extremely strategically important milestone for us.
“As we prepare for launch in the coming weeks, we are excited to bring all of 888’s leading products and games to new audiences across the province, providing our unique and differentiated experiences to players.”
Featured image source: 888