888 has become the latest iGaming sportsbook operator to secure a license to take bets in the new Ontario market in Canada when it goes live on 4th April.
The announcement came on Thursday 3rd March, just weeks away from the official launch.
This will be the nineteenth market in which 888 holdings are locally licensed. Other territories include the UK and seven US states.
Itai Pazner, the CEO of 888, welcomed the news, saying, “We are delighted to have been awarded a license by the AGCO and look forward to launching in the market when it officially opens. 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.”
COUNTDOWN TO 4TH APRIL
Ever since single-event sports betting became legal in Canada in 2021 the countdown to a legal, regulated market where private betting firms can compete with government-backed lotteries has been on.
As the most populous province in the country it’s no surprise that Onatrio was the first to open its doors.
888 are the fourth iGaming company to be issued with a license, following in the footsteps of PoinstBet, theScore and Rivalry Corp.
Licenses are issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario with operational oversight carried out by its subsidiary, iGaming Ontario.
The final few months of the journey have not been without controversy.
Within the industry, offline casino and entertainment, Great Canadian Gaming, campaigned to have exclusive rights to the market for two years to protect against damage to its own revenues as customers moved online.
And across Canada indigenous groups with historical links to the gambling industry have allied to protest against damage to their own revenues.
Both have failed in their opposition to the launch which will go ahead as planned on 4th April.
A MIXED WEEK FOR 888 HOLDINGS
This news comes at the end of a bad week for 888 Holdings. In the UK they were fined a hefty £9.4 million, or $15.8 million (CAD), for failing to fulfil social responsibility and anti-money laundering obligations under the terms of their license.
The UK Gambling Commission, who oversee the industry in the UK, carried out an audit of operations in October 2020 in which they found that Source of Wealth (SOW) checks were not carried out before customers deposited at least £40,000.
SOW checks are a key feature of the UK licensing framework to prevent gamblers from spending beyond what they can afford.
The UK Gambling Commission have fined 888 Holdings once before for leaving open 7,000 customer accounts belonging to players who had requested to be excluded from the platform for problem gambling reasons.
Those players went on to deposit £3.5 million.
In their statement the UK Gambling Commission suggested that any further failures in relation to responsible gambling codes could result in the suspension of 888’s license.
This is clearly something the business would want to avoid and could affect its license status in other regulated markets.