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Ontario government prepares legislation to end igaming monopoly


Ontario’s government is to introduce new legislation seeking to end the current online gambling monopoly in the Canadian province and open up the market to private operators.

At present, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is the only operator approved to offer online gambling in the province via its website.

However, after last year setting out in its budget plans to end the monopoly, the government has now taken this a step further in its 2020 budget, confirming it will introduce legislation to establish a more open market.

Should this legislation pass into law, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) would conduct and manage online gambling activities, as well as serving as regulator for the market.

A dedicated subsidiary under the AGCO would also be established to manage the relationship between the government and private, licensed operators.

The government and the AGCO will continue to consult with key stakeholders on the design of the new-look market to ensure it reflects consumer preferences.

In addition, the government will encourage the federal government to approve plans for the legalisation of single-event sports betting across the country, as it said such a move would support the development of its new market.

This week, it was confirmed a bill that would repeal existing laws and make it legal for Canadians to wager on single sporting events is to be reintroduced into the country’s parliament.

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) hailed the measure, saying this would ensure that people in the province would have access to safe and legal gambling options.

“As we grapple with the economic recovery from novel coronavirus (Covid-19), it will be helpful for Ontario to generate revenue from the licensing and taxation of offshore online operators who qualify to operate in Ontario,” CGA president and chief executive Paul Burns said.

“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.”

Canadian media business Score Media and Gaming (theScore) also praised the Ontario government, with founder and chief executive John Levy saying this would represent a significant step closer towards safe and regulated sports betting in the province.

“Canada is theScore’s home turf and we are eager to bring our award-winning sportsbook, theScore Bet, to our highly engaged fans across Ontario, a huge market with a population larger than all but four US states,” Levy said.

“We’re also encouraged by the province’s commitment to continue to work with the federal government in their effort to legalise single-event sports wagering in Canada, where legislation to effect this change was debated in the House of Commons earlier this week.”