The government of the Canadian province of Ontario has signalled the end of the online gambling monopoly that currently exists in the region, and the opening of market to private operators.
Currently, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is the only operator with the approval to offer online gambling in the province, which it provides through its PlayOGA.ca website. But last year the government indicated they had plans to end the monopoly, and they have now taken this a step further as part of the 2020 budget, confirming that legislation will be introduced to create an open market.
If the proposed legislation passes into law, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) would be responsible for the conduct and management of online gambling activities, and would also serve as regulator for the market. At the same time, it is proposed that a dedicated subsidiary under the AGCO would be set up to manage the relationship between the government and gambling firms.
In the short term, the government and the AGCO will commit to consult with key stakeholders on the design and operation of the new-look market to make sure that it reflects consumer preferences.
The provincial government have also said they will encourage the federal government to give the green light to plans for the legalisation of single-event sports betting throughout Canada, a move that they feel would help to support the development of its new market. Last week, it was confirmed a bill that would overturn existing laws and make it legal for Canadians to bet on single sports events would be reintroduced to the federal Parliament.
The news of the Ontario plans was welcomed by the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) whose President and Chief Executive, Paul Burns, said that the new sources of revenue would help the economy at a time when COVID-19 had had a significant impact, and that it would provide opportunities for operators who had been confined to providing land-based gambling:
“It will also allow land-based casino operators to access online gaming, enabling them to diversify their entertainment options and interact with customers outside of property walls.”
There was also praise for the plan from Score Media and Gaming, a significant operator in the gaming industry. Founcer and chief executive John Levy said that the proposal represented a big step towards providing safe and regulated sports betting Ontorio. Levy emphasised the size of the Ontario market, in a province that has a population larger than all bar four US states. He also added that he was encouraged by the province’s commitment to work with the federal government in their efforts to provide a legal sports betting market across the whole of Canada.