Ontario Plans to Open the Provincial Online Gambling Market

Earlier this week, the new Tory government in Canada’s largest province, Ontario, delivered its first budget, announcing an important move.

The government wants to end online gambling monopoly in the province, and open Ontario’s market of 15 million to private companies.

Ending the Monopoly

At this moment, players from Ontario can legally enjoy wagering online only through the locally authorized PlayOLG.ca site, operated by the provincial crown corporation –  Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG).

According to available information, the government intends to establish a competitive online gambling market, allowing other online operators apart from OLG to apply for a license to do their business in Ontario. Similar plans were already announced in Quebec a couple of years ago, but apart from an announcement nothing really happened.

Before making any concrete moves, the provincial authorities will consult with industry stakeholders. The ultimate goal will be to establish a regulatory system that  “reflects consumer preferences, fosters an exciting gaming experience and minimizes the burden on business while ensuring appropriate protections are in place.”

The new plans will also enable residents of Ontario to buy OLG lottery products using their smartphones. This option is not currently available through existing PlayOLG mobile application – available for devices running on iOS and Android. Players can only access casino games via this app, while the only way to purchase lottery tickets online is through PlayOLG site.

Bringing More Money to Coffers

PlayOLG site went online more than fours years ago, but in fiscal 2017-18 its revenue of C$73.1 million represented less than 1% of OLG’s overall operations (C$7.58 billion). By comparison, similar sites in British Columbia and Quebec brought much more money, despite the fact these provinces have smaller populations than Ontario.

The government paid special attention to gambling in the budget, as Ontario plans to push the federal authorities to allow single-game sports betting. Under the provisions of the existing law, provincial crown corporations are limited to parlay betting products. The attempt to repeal the federal restriction back in 2016 didn’t go through.

The government also wants to allow more interactive gaming experiences via OLG’s lottery terminals. If everything goes according to plans, brick and mortar casinos in Ontario will be able not only to offer complimentary drinks to players but will also be allowed to promote this fact. This measure should enable local venues to be more competitive, especially when competing with casinos in the U.S.

According to current regulations, bars and restaurants, as well as golf courses can start selling liquor from 11 am to 9 am, and the Tories want to change that. In addition to this, the government is seriously thinking of allowing bars to continue selling liquor after 2 am. Along with these changes, the consumption of alcohol should be allowed in public areas, while stores will finally be allowed to sell beer and wine.

The government also announced that new laws will also permit tailgating. At this moment, there’s no information on the timeline of these changes.