Ontario calls for end to online gambling monopoly

Online gambling in Canada’s largest province of Ontario could be opened to private companies for the first time under new proposals unveiled by the province’s government.

In parliamentary sessions on Thursday, the province’s Conservative government unveiled its first budget, which included a pledge to establish a competitive market for online gambling that will “reflect consumer choice while protecting consumers who play on these websites”.

A key part of this strategy is the legalization of single event sports betting at a federal level, which has been largely deadlocked since September 2016.

The Ontarian government has asked the federal government to change this and said it will continue to “pressure it to stand up for Ontario consumers”.

A source close to the process in Ontario downplayed the immediate impact of the budget proposals however, suggesting it would be a five-year process to get a fully deregulated market.

“They are calling for single game wagering, but it isn’t really up to them, its up to the federal government,” the source said.

Ontario currently operates a single legal online gambling site, PlayOLG.ca, which is operated by the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG).

According to Ontario government estimates, Ontarians spend an estimated $500m a year gambling online, with most of that money spent on grey market websites.

In September, the OLG concluded a multi-year deal with egaming supplier Bede Gaming, that will see Bede supply its digital platform across both its lottery and gaming products.

The upgraded PlayOLG.ca platform will include revised mobile channel together with sportsbook.