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Ontario Sports Betting and iGaming Regulator Has New Chief: What Does This Mean for the Industry?

Online casinos have seen significant growth in recent years, with a surge in platform demand. As online casinos in Canada evolve, regulatory bodies enhance fair play and maintain a level playing field for operators. Recently, AGCO appointed a new chief for its gambling regulator, sparking curiosity about the potential impact on the industry.

The AGCO Board of Directors is confident that Dr. Schnarr is the right person to lead the organization into the future. She has the skills, experience, and vision to ensure that AGCO remains a respected and trusted regulator.

Meet the New Chief: A Profile of Ontario’s Regulator

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has appointed Dr. Karin Schnarr as its new CEO and Registrar, effective September 18, 2023. Dr. Schnarr is a highly accomplished and performance-focused senior executive with extensive experience in the academic, public-sector, and private-sector consulting environments.

She is currently an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University, where she has also been Director of MBA and BBA Programs. She has also held numerous senior roles in the Government of Ontario, including as Chief of Staff to ministers in multiple portfolios.

In her new role, Dr. Schnarr will lead the AGCO in its mission to regulate and govern the alcohol and gaming sectors in Ontario. She will also be responsible for ensuring that AGCO is responsive to the needs of its stakeholders and that it continues to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism.

Shifting Regulatory Focus

One of the most immediate impacts of a new chief in the regulator’s office is the potential for a shift in regulatory focus. While the overarching goals of ensuring player protection and fair competition remain constant, the specific areas of emphasis can change under new leadership.

Under Schnarr’s guidance, the industry can anticipate a stronger emphasis on responsible gambling initiatives. This emphasis might involve stricter advertising regulations, increased support for problem gamblers, and a more robust self-exclusion system. Casinos may need to adapt to these changes, potentially affecting their marketing strategies and user experience.

The AGCO has proposed banning the use of athletes and certain celebrities in iGaming advertising. The ban on athlete endorsements will likely impact casino marketing strategies. Operators will need to find new ways to reach potential customers.

Innovation and Technological Advancements

The online gambling industry is known for its rapid technological advancements, from live dealer games to virtual reality experiences. A forward-thinking regulator can enhance innovation while ensuring new technologies don’t compromise player safety or fair play.

Schnarr is expected to take a proactive stance on technological advancements. That could involve the development of clear guidelines for emerging technologies, such as blockchain-based gambling. Casinos at the forefront of innovation may find a more accommodating regulatory environment, provided their innovations prioritize player protection.

Technological advancements could help make the industry more competitive and attractive to investors. It could also help to improve the overall experience for players. The doctor could emphasize creating a regulatory sandbox to test and evaluate new technologies.

Competing on a Global Scale

Online casinos in Canada face competition not only domestically but also on the global stage. A change in leadership at the regulator’s office can influence how well Canadian operators can compete internationally.

The industry can expect the new chief to streamline processes and reduce unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for operators. This move could make it easier for online casinos to expand their services to international markets. A more business-friendly regulatory environment can encourage industry investment and growth and benefit operators and players.

The appointment of Dr. Schnarr as the chief of AGCO marks a significant development in Canada’s gambling industry. Her extensive experience, collaborative approach, support for innovation, and efforts to enhance global competitiveness suggest that the industry could see positive changes under her leadership.


Dr. Schnarr is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion. She will be committed to building a more equitable and accessible gaming and alcohol sector in Ontario. The regulator is committed to working with stakeholders to prevent and address gambling addiction.

Casinos should keep a close eye on developments within the regulatory landscape and be prepared to adapt to any new initiatives that may arise. As the industry evolves, all stakeholders must work together to ensure that online gambling remains safe and entertaining in Ontario and beyond.

Featured Image: Pexels

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