The OLG – the gambling commission with its own online casino

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming

If you’ve played at an online casino, then you’ll probably understand what a gambling commission is. It’s a licensing board that monitors online gambling. To be registered as a legitimate enterprise, an online casino usually applies for a licence from a gambling commission. They then have to adhere to the commission’s strict rules in order to maintain their licence.

Online casino players understand that they need to only play at online casinos that have a licence. In some jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, it is a legal requirement for a UK-based player to only play at a casino with a United Kingdom Gambling Commission licence. In some jurisdictions (Australia and New Zealand, for example) players are encouraged to play at online casinos with top-tier licences from commissions in (again, for example) Alderney, Gibraltar or Malta.

The OLG has a novel approach to online gambling with its own online casino

Not all commissions operate in the same manner, though, and one gambling commission that acts very differently is the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, or the OLG for short. It is probably the only gambling commission on the planet that operates its own online casino as well as other gambling concerns.

Ontario – just in case you did not know – is a province in Canada, and the most populous out of the thirteen that make up the country. It’s the second-largest province (behind Quebec) and around 38 percent of the country’s population live in Ontario. The province contains the Canadian capital Ottawa and the country’s most populated city, Toronto.

Online casinos in Canada cannot operate without a licence, although people in Canada can play at any casino that operates beyond the country’s borders. Each province in Canada typically has its own gambling board which is tied into the country’s provision of lotteries. Oddly, many gambling regulation departments are combined with other departments covering liquor, tobacco and even fuel.

There is also the oddity of the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Kahnawake is not a nation but it is a sovereign legal entity. It’s a tiny territory in Quebec that created its own gaming commission in 1996, granting licences to non-Canadian online casinos.

OLG was created with the task of overseeing lotteries, but has since expanded

Of all the gambling commissions in Canadian provinces it is, perhaps, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation that is the oddest, as it is self-licensing. It was created in 1975 by the Ontario Provincial Government as a way of legalising lotteries. There were several lotteries in Ontario at the time but the legal status of most of them was questionable. In April 1975 the OLG launched Wintario – the first legalised lottery game. This lottery was created to help raise money for the Ontario Ministry of Culture and Recreation. In only four months Wintario generated CA$6 million. Further lotteries Lottario and Lotto 6/49 were launched in 1978 and 1982 respectively.

In January 2015 the OLG responded to the popularity of online casino play in a way that no other gambling commission across the world had done before – it launched its own internet-based online casino, lottery and sports betting site, PlayOLG.

Games available at PlayOLG

Despite the availability of online casino games at PlayOLG, the most popular options at the site remain the provinces two major lotteries – LOTTO 6/49 and LOTTO MAX. With LOTTO 6/49 players must choose six numbers from the 49 available. LOTTO MAX has bigger jackpots require the correct selection of seven numbers from 50.

Slots

If you head to the PlayOLG site you will be amazed by the selection of slots available. In fact, the PlayOLG slots section looks just like any online casino you might chance upon on the internet. The games come from software providers IGT and High5Games. Currently there are around 100 slots available including classics like Raging Rhino, Golden Goddess and Cleopatra.

Casino Games

The casino titles here are provided by IGT and High5Games too. Players are free to enjoy blackjack, roulette, pai gow poker, casino hold’em, three-card poker, stud poker, baccarat and let it ride.

Video Poker

PlayOLG has four versions of video poker, all based on draw poker.

Horse Racing

The site has two horse racing betting portals – HPIBET and Ontario Racing. These two sections allow players the chance to bet online on races at many of Ontario’s 15 racetrack locations.

Mobile

Most of PlayOLG’s games can be found via their mobile app downloadable for iOS and Android.

Criticisms of PlayOLG

Players in the UK and in some other jurisdictions may take one look at PlayOLG and then have to go for a little lie-down somewhere. The attitude of the OLG towards gambling and the attitude of the UKGC are completely poles apart. Players at PlayOLG are even offered a 200% max CA$300 bonus to sign up with the site with only a 5x wagering requirement. The promotions page bandies about words such as ‘fun’ and ‘enjoy’ and all the slots and casino games can be played for free. Funding via a credit card is also absolutely fine – something that was banned in the UK in April 2020.

This attitude to gambling has led to criticism from some parties who claim that PlayOLG encourages problem gambling. The site does have a ‘problem gambling’ section though which may help some players who feel that they are gambling a little too much and a little too often. There is a ‘maximum weekly deposit’ at the site, but this is set by the players themselves.

It’s certainly a unique way for a gambling commission to behave – offering slots and casino games via a site run by themselves. Players in Ontario are free to play at other online casinos of course, as long as the casinos are not based in Canada. Are any other online gambling commissions likely to open their own online casinos in the near future? It doesn’t seem too likely, but we can’t bet against it!

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