Executive Profile: Jean Major, CEO, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
September 17, 2018
For over two decades, Jean Major has been a mainstay of major regulatory agencies in Ontario. With a total of 33 years of experience with the Ontario Public Service, Major has spent 24 of those years at the forefront of the gaming and racing regulatory agencies in the province.
Major’s career in the gaming industry began in 1990, when he became the manager responsible for regulating charitable gaming in Ontario. In 1994, as Executive Director and CEO of the Ontario Racing Commission (ORC), Major brought about significant changes to the regulatory framework governing horse racing through new legislation.
In 2004, Major was appointed CEO and Registrar of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Since then, he has led significant regulatory changes to the alcohol and gaming industries in the province, including important changes to regulation and the development of a regulatory framework for lotteries and internet gaming.
What areas of your role as CEO of AGCO are the most challenging for you personally and what are you most looking forward to accomplishing in the near future?
The AGCO is the product of three legacy agencies: Gaming Control Commission, Liquor Licence Board of Ontario and the Ontario Racing Commission. All three agencies have different histories and cultures. The AGCO is celebrating its 20th year and one of my biggest challenges has been to integrate these three agencies into one cohesive regulatory body that can still be flexible enough to continue to accommodate the inherent differences and cultures in these three industries. I am looking forward to continuing to work with staff and our stakeholders as we move forward with a risk-based, outcomes-based and compliance-focused regulatory model across all the industries we regulate over the next several years.
What are the most personally rewarding aspects of working in a leadership role in the Canadian gaming industry and why?
I have never seen the regulator’s role as being isolated or narrow. The regulator’s role is clear and at its core is intended to protect the public interest, which is composed of a variety of interests (e.g. player/consumer, charity, operator, economic, government, etc.). Balancing these various interests is extremely complex and always in motion and that makes my job interesting and extremely rewarding (and frustrating at times).
In what ways has your experience prepared you for your role at AGCO?
Frankly, I do not think there is anything that can prepare you for what I have experienced as a regulator in this province. I have regulated gaming (including horseracing) in Ontario for 28 years. In that time, I have seen significant policy shifts that fundamentally altered the gaming marketplace in Ontario. My job during these past 28 years has certainly been to regulate but also to help shape the marketplace in the absence of an overarching gaming strategy that balances the interests of the Crown in commercial gaming/lotteries, charitable gaming and horseracing.