Screenshot of tonybet website with an image of a clock and the words  "Coming Soon" in anticipation of the launch of TonyBet's online sportsbook in Ontario. A TonyBet Ontario online casino may not be far behind. Screenshot of tonybet website with an image of a clock and the words  "Coming Soon" in anticipation of the launch of TonyBet's online sportsbook in Ontario. A TonyBet Ontario online casino may not be far behind.

Regulators in Ontario have issued a gaming license to TonyBet, the operator that, until July 2020, ran an independent online poker room that served the international (non-US) market.

The TonyBet brand is the creation of Antanas Guoga, aka Tony G, in online poker circles. Tony G is a Lithuanian-Australian businessman and former poker pro who became a philanthropist and politician.

On Monday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) issued a one-year internet gaming operator license to Ligtip Limited, a Malta-based entity. The AGCO lists the website tonybet.ca as the gaming site associated with the license.

TonyBet, which runs on the SoftLabs platform, will initially only offer real money online sports betting in Ontario. But it could decide to launch online casino gaming in the near future.

The operator’s launch in Ontario represents its first foray into the North American market. It has licenses to operate in nine jurisdictions worldwide.

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TonyBet Could Be Interested in Online Casino

TonyBet once operated the world’s largest online room dedicated to Open Face Chinese (OFC) poker. However, it never gained a critical mass of players to play this niche variant. On July 20, 2020, it ceased its online poker operations.

It continued to offer online sports betting in many European markets alongside a lucrative online casino.

In the fall, US Integrity announced that it had formed a partnership with TonyBet ahead of its launch in Ontario’s sports betting market. The Las Vegas-based betting integrity firm said TonyBet planned to launch in the province before the year’s end.

The October 10 statement by US Integrity also labeled TonyBet as a “fast-growing and ambitious international betting company specializing in iGaming and sportsbook.” It said the operator was “excited to enter the North American regulated gaming market and expand their offerings.”

In that same statement, the TonyBet Group CEO said, “the integrity of the sports betting experience at TonyBet is of utmost importance.” But he also added that the company was “thrilled to be working with US Integrity as we expand across the regulated Canadian market.”

Those comments suggest the operator might join the Ontario online casinos vertical alongside sports betting, either at launch or in the near future.

Besides Ontario, TonyBet has gaming licenses in Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Portugal, Spain, and the UK. It received a license to operate in the Netherlands last month and plans to launch there in 2023.

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TonyBet Innovations Over the Years

Tony G and TonyBet are familiar names in the online poker world. He was a professional poker player from 2003 to 2014 and founded TonyBet in 2011.

TonyBet launched an online poker room dedicated to Open Face Chinese (OFC) poker in December 2013, then followed up by adding No-Limit Hold’em (NLH) and Pot-Limit Omaha (PLO) games at micro stake levels nearly two years later. It also introduced rake-free poker games in November 2015.

In January 2016, TonyBet added an NLH/PLO series to its schedule. It also started offering more fast-paced games like 4-handed and heads-up NLH/PLO. Two months later, it amended its rakeback system, so losing players got a more significant share.

Sweden’s Betsson AB acquired TonyBet’s Lithuanian operations in September 2016.