New CEO Dr. Karin Schnarr to Steer AGCO in Booming Market

In a significant leadership shakeup, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)—the governing body overseeing all gaming activities in the province, including online sports betting and casino gambling—has announced the appointment of Dr. Karin Schnarr as its new Chief Executive Officer and Registrar. Effective September 18, Schnarr will succeed Tom Mungham, whose departure was confirmed earlier this year amid uncertainty over his successor.

Mungham’s Legacy

Though much of the focus on this move will be on the incoming Schnarr, her predecessor’s legacy cannot be overlooked. Mungham initially joined the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario back in 2006, joining as the director of licensing in registration.

Over time, he would move up the ranks before eventually becoming the chief operating officer before taking on his current set of roles beginning in 2020. During his stint as CEO of AGCO, Mungham oversaw a few major initiatives that have changed the landscape in Ontario.

Those initiatives included both developmental and regulatory oversight over the new gaming market for the province. Launched on April 4, 2022, the market allows for legal online and retail casino gambling and sportsbook wagers. It has bettered expectations, providing an infusion of funding for the government as well as the regulatory body.

Mungham will not be departing immediately, however. He has agreed to stay with the regulatory body until this fall. Though AGCO has found his replacement in Schnarr, it will be another few weeks before she takes on the role and the accompanying responsibilities that come with it.

More About Schnarr

That replacement, Dr. Karin Schnarr, comes with a plethora of experience in the public, academic, and private sector consulting world. Currently, she serves as an associate professor for strategic management at the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Before her current role with Lazaridis, she spent time with the Richard Ivey School of Business. During her time there, she was a Ph.D. candidate for corporate governance and general management of strategy. She also lectured in strategy during her time at Richard Ivey.

Outside of the education sector, she has worked for Veritas Communications, MacPhie and Company, and more. She has held a wide array of senior roles in the government of Ontario as well. Those roles include serving as the chief of staff to ministers in various portfolios. This extensive past experience will help her in this role.

Schnarr said: “I am excited to be joining a strong and vibrant organization that works every day to ensure consumer protection, efficient business practices, and a people-first focus. My sincere thanks to the board for this opportunity.

“I am aware of the large shoes I will be filling for retiring CEO Tom Mungham. I am looking forward to taking on this role and can’t wait to get started.”

AGCO expressed excitement over the addition of Schnarr while also expressing gratitude to Mungham for his services while in the role. They also wish him the best in his retirement, which he announced as an intention back in March.

A Burgeoning Online Market

Schnarr is stepping into sizable shoes, especially since the launch of regulated online sports betting and casino gaming just over a year ago. The marketplace has seen exponential growth in a little more than a year, exceeding already lofty expectations.

Numbers are up to more than $14 billion CAD in wagers during Q2 2023. The majority of wagers came from online casino games like slots, bingo, and table games, comprising more than $11.6 billion CAD in wagers. Sports betting filled a much smaller role but still saw growth, accounting for more than $2 billion CAD in wagers during the same quarter.

With those numbers only expected to increase, having an experienced, versatile CEO like Schnarr should prove beneficial for AGCO.

Leadership Changes for iGO

iGaming Ontario, the regulatory body that operates under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, has seen leadership changes happen this year. For instance, Heidi Reinhart has recently taken over as the chair for iGaming Ontario, signalling another major change.

Reinhart succeeded former CEO Dave Forestell, who stepped down from his role after accepting the chair position for AGCO. Forestell has held the role of chair for iGO since the gaming regulator was initially formed back in July 2021.

Reinhart initially served as temporary chair until Forestell was announced as the replacement for the departed Lalit Aggarwal. AGCO and iGO hope that these moves will create a stable foundation for years to come.

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As Dr. Karin Schnarr prepares to take the helm of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), the province’s gaming industry stands at a pivotal juncture.

With the online market flourishing beyond expectations and new leadership changes within iGaming Ontario as well, Schnarr’s diverse background in academia, public service, and private sector consulting positions her as a uniquely qualified leader for this dynamic environment.

As she steps into the role, succeeding Tom Mungham—a figure who has left an indelible mark on the organization—the industry will be watching closely to see how she navigates the challenges and opportunities ahead.

With more than $14 billion CAD in wagers recorded in Q2 2023 alone, the stakes are high, but so are the expectations for Schnarr’s tenure. As AGCO and its subsidiary iGaming Ontario undergo these leadership transitions, the focus will undoubtedly be on sustaining growth while ensuring consumer protection and regulatory integrity.

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