Push For Privatised Online Casino Sector In Ontario

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Lillie Mcguire
Posted on November 10, 2020 at 1:11am

A massively expanded iGaming sector may soon be coming to Ontario as new legislation is tabled by local government hoping to privatise online casinos in Canada’s biggest province. A push for the legalisation of single-event sports betting is also once again on the negotiations table for the vote.

Last Thursday, local government laid its 2020-21 budget before parliament – which includes a dire picture painted regarding the toll taken on provincial finances, and in particular Crown corporation the OLG, by the ongoing global health crisis. According to the actual figures tabled on Thursday, the OLG anticipates that it will for the current budget year be in a position to contribute only CA$200 million to provincial coffers – as opposed to the CA$2.3 billion it managed to contribute for the financial year 2019-20.

Not only has the OLG emerged unable to keep up annual revenue performances, but due to countrywide closers of land-based casinos and gaming venues, the organisation has had to apply to government for a desperately needed CA$500 million financial lifeline simply to keep its operations going and the lights of its land-based venues burning.

AGCO To Oversee And Regulate

The goal going forward will be that of introducing the necessary legislation required to award to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) the authority needed to manage online casinos at a provincial level. Should the proposed new legislation be approved, the AGCO will also be appointed the provincial iGaming regulator tasked with overseeing licensing processes, safe gambling guidelines, regulating and compliance-focused processes, and more.

From a practical point of view, the passing of such legislation will remove the OLG from its current position of monopoly within the online casinos industry. Privatisation will afford to more operators the opportunity to apply for a licence and service the local market. The expectation is furthermore that this new privatised model will create increased taxable income in favour of Ontario’s provincial coffers.

Sports Betting In The Spotlight

Also put forward by the recently tabled online casino budget are a number of provisions related to the push for a legalised sports betting market. Sports betting currently remains under federal governance – with parlay bets currently the only types of sports wagers legally allowed.

Though several bills have in the past been derailed by a variety of delays and opposing motions, the latest effort for full legalisation of betting on sports – including wagers placed on single events – has now been re-raised by the federal sponsor of the bill, namely MP Kevin Waugh.

Why some members of parliament have expressed several concerns over specific provisions contained in the draft bill, many more have voiced their support of C-218, referring to the bill as a draft piece of legislation intent on creating a legal and safe setting for those experiencing problem gambling behaviour – but at the same time legislation not posing any risks to the integrity of local sports; in particular the province’s horseracing industry, which is a financial means to a livelihood for many.

Start Of Great Things

The most likely next step will be for the bill to enjoy its next reading in late January/early February. The reading will then be followed by a vote cast regarding whether the bill should be graduated so as to be read before the Justice committee before finally being passed for rubber stamping by the Senate.

Should online casinos be privatised, and sports betting legalised in Ontario, more provinces can be expected to follow suit. The ultimate goal is for a privatised and regulated online gaming industry to be rolled out country-wide for the benefit of all.

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