Regulated iGaming Promised In Ontario Budget

By Ben Hamill - December 30 2020
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Regulated iGaming Promised In Ontario Budget

Ontario is officially gearing up to become the first Canadian province to legalise and regulate online gambling. In the province’s budget for 2020-21, Ontario’s Ford Administration commits itself to the introduction of legislation necessary to close the tap on Ontario’s current state-run monopoly on the legal iGaming industry.

Federal law entrusts most forms of gambling in the country to local provincial Lottery authorities, with the only exception being some forms of charitable gaming. The result is that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) oversees the operation of all land-based casinos situated in the province, runs the local Lottery, and also operates the only legal and regulated online casino site available to local residents.

Online Poker is currently only available via Quebec’s Espace Jeux state-run platform – a situation online Poker enthusiasts are hoping will chance once Canada’s online gambling industry is officially privatised and declared an open market (i.e., not monopolised by government entities).

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Legislation Now Imminent

According to the Ford Administration’s 2020 Budget, the province intends on furthering the goal of online gaming regulation as declared in its 2019 Budget by now moving ahead with the introduction of actual legislation.

Once such legislation is in place, the onus of regulation and control will fall to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). What this means is that the AGCO will essentially assume the role and responsibilities of regulator. This, according to the 2020 Budget, will be achieved via the establishment of a dedicated subsidiary body under the umbrella and control of the AGCO.

Since the legislation itself has not yet been put to table, not much in terms of the actual specifics or provisions have been announced or become available as of yet. All indications are however that local government will be looking to closely emulate online gambling legislation enforced in bordering U.S. states like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

iGaming Will Boost Recovery

What is also clear from the inclusion of the announcement as part of the 2020 Budget, is that the focus of a regulated iGaming sector will largely be on economic recovery in response to the global health crisis.

The anticipated tax rate to be imposed on online gambling operators has in the meantime been predicted at between 18% and 20%, said Daniel Bush of the Canadian Gaming Association in response to the tabling of the 2020 Budget for Ontario.

What this means in terms of actual tax revenue about to be generated by the province, is that a legalised iGaming industry can be expected to generate funds to the value of hundreds of millions of Canadian dollars.

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