Casinobeats had interviewed Relax Gamings Alexia Smilovic Rønde and we though that this is so important, that we wanted to copy the whole article also for You to read.
When Relax Gaming secured its supplier licence for Ontario, the igaming aggregator and games developer described the opening of the newly-regulated market as “truly a turning point for the industry in the region”.
As the market approaches its two-month anniversary, we caught up with Alexia Smilovic Rønde, Chief Regulatory Officer at Relax Gaming, to find out more about how the regulatory regime in Ontario is working and what other Canadian provinces can learn from it.
CasinoBeats: With Canada set to be a hot topic of conversation at both CasinoBeats Summit in Malta and the Canadian Gaming Summit in Toronto, what are Relax’s plans for Ontario now that you are fully licensed?
Alexia Smilovic Rønde: The regulation of the Ontario igaming market is one of the most talked about developments in the industry, and rightly so. It’s easily the most significant event of the year as the province is home to 40 per cent of Canada’s overall population, which is huge for the entire Canadian landscape.
In the long-term, I firmly believe that Ontario has the potential to develop into North America’s largest igaming market given enough time to find its feet and grow. This growth will no doubt be accelerated by the fact that the AGCO is pioneering a competitive regulatory model that’s closer to something we’d see in Europe as opposed to North America.
For Relax, entering the Canadian market marks a major milestone for the company as we continue to push forward with plans to increase our footprint in North America. The next logical step for us is to greatly expand our operations into the United States throughout the course of the next year.
Our smooth entry into the region has also allowed our Silver Bullet and Powered By Relax partners to benefit from sheltering conditions, meaning that we’ve been able to offer a diverse suite of casino content from the get-go alongside our full proprietary portfolio of games.
CB: Comparing Canada to the US, what’s different about the regulatory frameworks in place?
ASR: Unlike the United States, operator licences are not solely granted to local land-based operators, nor are they capped to a specific number. Essentially, there’s a strong feeling that the province is open for business, with operators and suppliers able to offer a healthy diversity of choice.
From the moment it was announced that the regulated Ontario market would be opening up it felt like we were being presented with a truly blank slate. So far, we’ve seen a mixture of Canadian, US and overseas operators and suppliers acting independently for the very first time in North America.
Ontario seems to have positioned itself as the perfect starting point for any igaming business looking to make its mark in North America, all thanks to its approachable regulatory frameworks.
CB: Looking at market conditions, how do you see Ontario scaling as more operators enter?
ASR: As stated, the regulator has done everything in its power to make entry into the Ontario market as feasible and attractive as possible. The 100,000 CAD annual licence fee and 20 per cent tax rate ensures that the market can attract operators and suppliers, meaning we have a competitive landscape.
With these two favourable conditions, there’s a golden opportunity for European B2B companies to start making their mark in North America, even despite some of the legal boundaries that can occur on account of the government agency subcontracting model.
CB: How do you see Canada regulating further if the market is a success?
ASR: Naturally, there will be some difficulties to overcome before Canada regulates further, as is the case with any fast-growing market that’s segmented by local governments that have differing regulatory frameworks. There are provinces in Canada that are tied into an exclusive operator model that will not allow for the same freedom that we’re seeing in Ontario.
Another major stumbling block is that land-based incumbents are currently lobbying against Ontario’s regulatory precedent, arguing that an increased and differentiated offering will drive its players online, endangering local employment.
However, should Ontario succeed in establishing a fully controlled, diverse and dynamic gaming landscape it will set an undeniable precedent that will be incredibly difficult to ignore.