Now that Canada has made the smart choice to allow wagers on the outcome of sports events, Ontario wants to make sure it hits the ground running. The province is establishing an online sports gambling division that will “conduct and manage” iGaming offerings, according to a provincial government press release. If everything stays on track and the world doesn’t have to deal with another health catastrophe, the first wagers could be placed by the end of the year.
iGaming Ontario Set to Debut
iGaming Ontario will help manage Ontario’s sports gambling efforts, operating as a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). It has been developed to extend the province’s work on creating a responsible gaming division that offers consumers more choices in products while ensuring a “secure and regulated framework” is in place. The existing Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) already offers some iGaming options and will continue to operate in the province.
The new iGaming Ontario was first envisioned last year when it looked like Canada was beginning to consider approval of single-event sports wagers. However, it was never designed to replace the AGCO, which AGCO will continue to act as Ontario’s gaming regulator and will provide oversight of activities, operators and suppliers. According to Attorney General Doug Downey, “We are determined to work with industry, responsible gaming advocates and regulatory partners to ensure Ontario is a world leader in building a safe online gaming environment that meets consumer expectations.”
Ontario Sees Huge Profit Potential From Expanded Gaming
The implementation of single-event sports wagers is logical, given the fact that wagers on the outcome of games continues to be one of the most popular options. Canada’s criminal laws prevented them from being offered and, finally, lawmakers did something about the restriction. As a result, Ontario is more than pleased that it will be able to expand its legal gaming market and recover money that is currently going to black market and offshore entities. It couldn’t come at a better time, either, as the province, as well as other jurisdictions, begin to emerge from the COVID-19 issues that have plagued the world for more than a year.
According to some studies, as much as $833 million (over CAD$1 billion) is spent annually in Ontario through online gambling portals. However, of that, around 70% is funneled through unregulated or grey market sites. That’s a significant amount of money Ontario will now be able to count on, and the province’s finance minister, Peter Bethlenfalvy, asserts, “Ontario’s new legal iGaming market will create new opportunities for Ontario businesses and a better, safer gaming experience for players.” He adds, “A new legal market would also generate revenue for the province to invest in supporting jobs and businesses, supporting people and their families, and improving and strengthening critical public services for a post-COVID world.”