Ontario Crown agency looking into online betting loophole

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Two people, mother businesswoman and her baby boy together in modern office at home. They do online sports betting together.

Ontario’s state agency responsible for gambling in the province is “collecting information” about the abuse of a government-mandated feature intended to reduce the risk of addiction.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) says it is aware that some players may exclude themselves from sports betting in order not to lose bets. During this time, the individual may have bet the other side of a match or match with a rival bookmaker, allowing the person to collect a refund from one and winnings from another.

“AGCO is aware of the concerns about the self-exclusion program to which you refer and is gathering more information,” AGCO senior communications adviser Raymond Kahnert said. Yahoo Finance Canada in an email.

Responsible gambling has been a focus of concern for provincial gambling regulators and sports betting operators, following the legalization of new forms of betting last summer by the federal government.

According to the AGCO Standards for Internet Gaming, sports betting operators must promote a voluntary self-exclusion program on their apps and websites. In addition to locking customers out of their account for a period of time, the program is to void any pending bets or “future gambling transactions” and “facilitate the return of unused fund balances”.

Yahoo Finance Canada contacted several major sportsbooks operating in Ontario for comment, all of which declined to address the matter on record. Most sportsbooks have included measures to withhold funds in case of suspected fraud in their terms of service.

Currently, there is no mechanism for self-exclusion from all sportsbooks that have opened in Ontario. The AGCO claims to be working on this type of solution, which would effectively close the loophole used by some players.

“Launching a centralized self-exclusion registry is a priority for AGCO and iGaming Ontario,” Kahnert said.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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