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Double-dipping: Ontario crown agency looks into online betting loophole

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Two people, mother businesswoman and her baby boy son together in modern office at home. They are sports betting online together.
Two people, mother businesswoman and her baby boy son together in modern office at home. They are sports betting online together.

The Ontario crown agency responsible for gambling in the province is "gathering information" about abuse of a government-mandated feature meant to curb the risk of addiction.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) says it's aware that some gamblers may be self-excluding from sportsbooks in order to back out of losing bets. Meanwhile, the individual may have bet the other side of a game or match with a rival sportsbook, allowing the person to collect a refund from one, and winnings from another.

"The AGCO is aware of the self-exclusion program concerns you're referring to, and is gathering more information," Raymond Kahnert, senior communications advisor with the AGCO, told Yahoo Finance Canada in an email.

Responsible gambling has been a major focus for provincial gambling regulators and sportsbook operators alike, following the legalization of new forms of wagering last summer by the federal government.

Under the AGCO's standards for internet gaming, sportsbook operators must promote a voluntary self-exclusion program on their apps and websites. In addition to locking customers out of their account for a period of time, the program must cancel all pending bets or "future game transactions," and "facilitate the return of the balance of unused funds."

Yahoo Finance Canada reached out to several major sportsbooks operating in Ontario for comment, all of which declined to address the issue on the record. Most sportsbooks have included measures to withhold funds in cases of suspected fraud in their terms of service.

Currently, there is no mechanism to self-exclude from all of the sportsbooks that have opened for business in Ontario. The AGCO says it is working on this type of solution, which would effectively close the loophole being used by some gamblers.

"The launch of a centralized self-exclusion registry is a priority for AGCO and iGaming Ontario," Kahnert said.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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