It’s undeniable that the internet gives us access to a wide variety of entertainment options. In fact, most of us have probably felt that the possibilities are a little too extensive at times. After all, haven’t we all felt that we spend a little too much time online? Broadly speaking, though, most would think that having more choices is a good thing. For instance, our streaming tastes are all different, and the offered content would be a lot less rich if it were limited to Netflix alone, and it didn’t have rival platforms like Disney+, Hulu, Paramount, Prime, and the rest to rival it.
When it comes to online casinos, the options are also extensive. There are 100s of casino platforms available online, all of which will have different characteristics and selling points. It might be the design of the site that catches your eye, the bonus offers and promotions, or the choice of games. But one factor above all should determine your decision if you are a Canadian player – a full license from the relevant gaming authorities. For instance, if you are based in Toronto, you should only play at an online casino licensed in Ontario. This provides several important benefits, which we will discuss in greater detail below.
Licenses can come in a variety of forms
To start, we should explain that there are both licensed and unlicensed casinos, and there are casinos with a license but not in a particular geographic location. So, for example, you might see a platform available in Canada stating it has a license, but that certification might come from somewhere in the Caribbean, such as Curacao (a frequent issuer of casino licenses). And if you are wondering what regulatory influence a tiny Caribbean island has over players based in Canada, it is, of course, none.
The important part to stress is that playing with a licensed brand that holds its certification in your local jurisdiction offers a safety net for players. We mentioned the Ontario licensing bodies there, and they ensure that players in the province have a certain set of protections.
For instance, to hold a license from Ontario, the casinos and sports betting platforms must provide evidence that the games are fair. This should come from independent audits, which look at two measures when it comes to online casino games – RTP (Return to Player) and RNGs (Random Number Generators). The former measures the amount of money the casino pays out to players, and the latter is a testing of the software used to ensure the games are fair and based on random outcomes. If there is no license, you would have no way of knowing that these important measures are tested.
Regulators can step in to protect players
We can give a real-world example of how the licensing body protects players. In December 2022, the regulatory body of Ontario, the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) stepped in to ban betting on UFC events. The move came due to the AGCO’s insistence that the integrity of some events had been compromised, i.e., due to the possibility of “insiders” betting on events.
There are many other things that a local license can offer players. For example, the regulatory body can become a mediator if there is ever a dispute between the player and the casino. They may also ask for the casino to separate funds, meaning it holds player balances in a separate account, protecting the customer’s funds should there be a bankruptcy. It is also important to recognize that the licensing body will require a high standard of cyber security, meaning your details (both financial and personal) are kept safe.
None of this is meant to say that non-licensed casinos are bad actors. They may be fair and even generous. But the license acts as a kind of seal of approval. It affords you legal rights, and it ensures that the operators are adhering to the law. Without it, you are in regulatory limbo, and you will have no protection should things go wrong.