Ontario postponed plans to commercialize the online gambling sector last December to the disappointment of many. There’s hope the province will launch its first commercial casino site early this year.
But it won’t be early enough for sports fans who want to bet on the Super Bowl. Meanwhile, below is a quick overview of the online casino industry in Ontario.
1—Ontario Launched a provincial Casino Site in 2015
British Columbia was the first province in Canada to legalize online gambling. It permitted online lotto games back in 2004 and expanded the industry to include blackjack and slots in 2009.
Ontario made a similar law in 2014 and launched a provincial-run casino site in January, 2015. The site, PlayOLG.ca offers a diverse menu of gambling games: slots, blackjack, roulette, poker, baccarat and blackjack.
Ontario’s laws about gambling through its website are simple. You need to register an account and establish weekly gambling limits. You can deposit and withdraw using a credit card or bank account. But you must not exceed your weekly bankroll.
2—Ontario Citizens can use Offshore Casinos
When Ontario launched PlayOLG in 2015, it did so to divert money spent at offshore casinos. At the time, the province said its citizens spent over a half a million dollars on offshore Ontario online casinos. Fast forward to 2022 and the figure is much bigger.
Of course, Ontario is fighting hard to compete against offshore casinos. But it’s yet to commercialize the industry. And even then, it might not create the progressive laws needed to match the quality of casino services offered overseas.
3—Ontario’s Plans to Commercialize iGaming have Derailed
After the federal government legalized single sports betting last year, Ontario became the first province to announce it would commercialize the industry. The province had aimed to launch its first commercial casino site by December last year.
Then state Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk released a 15-page document in early December stating commercializing iGaming would create legal challenges for the province.
As a result, Ontario pushed forward its plans to launch commercial online casinos. In the meantime, it’s sorting out the legal hurdles addressed by the AG. If successful, Ontario will have its first commercial casino site in march this year.
4—Ontario has Two Proposed iGaming Regulators
Contrary to the expectations of many, Ontario opted to regulate online casinos through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The agency has been accepting applications from private investors since September.
While AGCO will oversee online gaming operations in Ontario in general, it has a new subsidiary targeting private operators. Named iGaming Ontario, the subsidiary will manage and oversee the operations of all casinos with private licenses.
5—The Province will Provide Comprehensive Regulation
One of the many benefits Ontario casino players can expect from their province is comprehensive regulation. Scam operators have no chance to penetrate the Ontario market for these reasons.
First, gambling sites have to be licensed. This goes without saying. If you want to get a license from AGCO, you need a valid license. Secondly, software providers must also acquire licenses before they can lease their games to Canadian casinos.
This is good news because renowned developers like NetEnt, Microgaming and BTG could soon start to operate in Ontario legally. Another industry linked to iGaming that needs licensing is banking providers.
The aim is to eliminate unsafe digital wallets from offering their services in Ontario. Naturally, this means the risk of losing your money to a scam e-wallet or rogue casino will be low.
Additional sectors that require licensing in Ontario are odds makers, test labs and sports integrity monitoring organizations. In other words, the province wants to stand out in providing a safe and fair gaming environment for everyone involved.
6—No Taxes on Gambling Wins
As things stand, Ontario has no plans to tax its citizens when they win money at casino sites. Instead, it will tax gambling operators alone. That being said, professional gamblers might need to file taxes to the province.
Unless the laws change, Ontario-based gamblers could win millions of dollars without having to pay taxes. Not many provinces or countries have such wonderful laws.
The UK is the only other well-known exception. Gamblers in Britain don’t need to pay taxes on their winnings unless they’re professional gamblers. In the US, most states tax gambling wins up to 25%.
7—Single Sports Betting will be Part of the Deal
In case you’re wondering, Ontario isn’t just commercializing online casinos. It also plans to commercialize online sportsbooks. In other words, you don’t have to find an offshore bookie to bet on the Maple Leafs, Raptors or Blue Jays.
Ontario’s latest laws will ensure anyone in the province can be on sports through a locally-licensed sportsbook. Will the sportsbooks keep up with competition from offshore betting sites? Time will tell.
8—Multiple Companies Want to get Licensed in Ontario
In many states in the US, only a handful of companies get the licensing needed to operator gambling sites. Ontario has a different approach. It plans to license a multitude of operators.
Fortunately, lots of big-name betting companies have showed an interest to operate in the province. They include DraftKings and FanDuel—the two biggest sportsbooks in the US.
Then there’s the Score, a company based in Toronto. There’s also PointsBet, PokerStars, JackpotCity and Party Casino. Soon, many of the popular offshore casinos in Canada might acquire licensing in Ontario.
Already, some of these companies have been purchasing advertising space in local media stations last December. More companies are expected to join the competition later when Ontario launches its first commercial gambling site. According to multiple reports, Ontario has the potential to become the biggest gambling market in Canada.