Ontario welcomes many forms of gambling, starting with land-based casinos, racetracks and the lottery and going all the way to Pro-Line sports betting and online casino sites.
The only legal online casino site in Ontario is OLG.ca, run by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., which is also behind the slots and casino locations in the province.
Tasked with overseeing the interactive casino-style gambling from OLG is the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which also controls all other forms of gambling.
OLG’s casino site is home to some 150 slots, baccarat, blackjack, and other RNG-powered card games from leading casino software providers. Unfortunately, there are no live dealer games on the site. But that might soon change.
As the government of Ontario announced in its 2020 budget, it will establish a new and more competitive online gambling market. The AGCO has already begun consulting with leading casino operators to develop a framework and discuss operational issues in a bid to bring them to Ontario.
This page will cover online casinos in Ontario, with a particular focus on the looming changes and upgrades.
Is online gambling legal in Ontario?
These acts and regulations allow and regulate online gambling, including online sports wagering through the Pro-Line system and the only online casino in Ontario, OLG.ca (formerly known as PlayOLG.ca).
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. conducts all legal and regulated province-wide online gambling. The local government estimates that Ontarians spend around $500 million on gambling on grey market websites. The strategy to bring those sites under AGCO’s wing is a way to keep some of that money in the province.
Timeline for online casinos in Ontario
Here’s a timeline of events connected to online casinos in Ontario:
- January 2015 — OLG launches the first province-wide online casino site, PlayOLG.ca.
- February 2016 — PlayOLG.ca receives an RG Check certification from the Responsible Gambling Council.
- October 2020 — PlayOLG.ca rebrands and merges with the redesigned OLG.ca site.
- November 2020 — The Ontario government announces in the 2020 budget a plan to bring private online gambling operators into Ontario’s legal market
- March 30, 2021 — AGCO starts holding consultations with stakeholders of internet gambling operators to discuss standards, programs and registration procedures.
- April 2021 — AGCO expects to release eligibility and other requirements for individuals, companies and technology to become legal in Ontario.
- Late 2021 — We expect a complete regulatory framework.
What will the online casino market look like in Ontario?
The foundations of the new online gambling market in Ontario lie in four objectives described in this discussion paper from the government. The objectives are as follows:
- Improving overall entertainment quality by giving players an improved selection of platforms. The entire system shall be based on fair competition.
- Upholding responsible play, prohibition of underage gambling and the integrity of games at all times.
- The growth of the online gambling market through better offers will put a stop to unregulated markets and keep money that would have otherwise left the province.
- Building a gambling market according to all the industry standards.
The government has also suggested establishing a subsidiary of AGCO to administer the new regulatory framework that applies to private gambling enterprises.
In the paper, we can also see two potential revenue sharing models up for consideration: one where a single rate will apply to the gross gambling revenue, and another where variable rates will apply based on what type of online gambling products are available.
Slots, table games such as blackjack and roulette, and poker are going to be legal. What’s more, it is possible that single-event sports betting will be included through the amendment of Bill C-13 of the Criminal Code, which currently bans such wagering.
Which casinos are most likely to gain access in the near future?
The proposed changes in the online gambling landscape of Ontario are drawing interest from all the big shots in the industry, as well as some unlikely participants such as the Torstar Corp., which owns the Toronto Star newspaper. Seeing a newspaper in the casino business is unusual. Still, the logic is simple: It wants a share of the enormous market potential, which it could then use to prop up its newspaper business.
On the other hand, the usual suspects are all there. DraftKings is already looking for its way into the Ontario market through a possible acquisition of theScore Bet, a sports betting app that is already active in the US. The sports-branded app has around 1.4 million users in Ontario alone.
DraftKings has a market value of $19 billion and a strong foothold in the US. It will likely look to use that experience to its advantage in the newly formed market in Ontario, and buying shares of theScore Bet is a sound strategy and a good entry point.
Hard Rock is another big name in the casino business with ties to Ontario. The $318 million redevelopment of the Rideau Carleton Casino and its rebranding to Hard Rock is a clear sign that this operator is here to stay, and online gambling might be its next playground.
The effort to make single-event sports wagering legal has set many things in motion, and the biggest names in the gambling sphere, such as FanDuel, Caesars and DraftKings, caught on pretty early. Caesars already owns the first and one of the biggest land-based casinos in Ontario, Caesars Casino Windsor. These giants bring competitive odds, immersive betting, and battle-tested methods of keeping players happy, which is bound to give them leverage in any aspiring market, including Ontario’s.
Will online casinos offer apps?
It is safe to assume they will offer native apps to users of Android and iOS devices.
The current OLG lottery app is an excellent example of how casinos can structure their apps. It is also available on the App Store and Google Play, but it only lets players scan their lottery and sports betting tickets to check if they have won.
Ontario’s gambling laws
Here is a quick overview of Ontario’s leading gambling laws, on both federal and local levels:
- The Canadian Criminal Code — First enacted in 1892 and later amended several times to allow gambling in Canada (the 1985 amendment allowed provinces to decide whether to allow slots, lottery and other gambling devices; the 1999 amendment removed all bans on the types of gambling the provinces can allow).
- The 1992 Gaming Control Act — Following this act, the first land-based casinos launched in Ontario, and ground rules for safe and fair gambling were set.
- The 1999 Ontario Lottery Corp. Act — This act controls the lottery in the province.
Real money casino games through the OLG
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. runs an online casino site with close to 150 games from the top software providers in the business, such as IGT, Bally, WMS and Konami. The majority of these games are digital representations of popular land-based slots, such as Cleopatra Gold, Triple Diamond, 88 Fortunes and other highly sought-after machines. Apart from slots, the OLG boasts a good selection of instant specialty games, table games, jackpot games and video poker.
- Online slots — There are over a hundred three-reel and five-reel classic and video slots with various bonus features such as Spartacus, Raging Rhino and Cirque Du Soleil Kooza with multipliers, free spins and a variety of bonuses.
- Table games — The table games section is not as diverse as that of slots, but there is still a decent number of titles, such as American roulette, Ultimate Texas Hold’em and Zappit Blackjack.
- Video poker — Thanks to the quintessential video poker multi-game platform Game King, OLG’s customers can play video poker games based on Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, Joker Poker and other formats of play.
- Instant wins — Instant wins games, such as scratchcards and specialty games, are pretty popular on the platform, although their return-to-player rate is only about 85%.
- Jackpot games — The available jackpot games are based on the Powerbucks slot game, one of the most famous land-based casino titles, the MegaJackpots series MegaJackpots Wheel of Fortune, and a few other titles, such as Pixies of the Forest. The potential payouts for Powerbucks frequently go over $1 million, which makes them pretty popular with the players.
Bonuses and rewards program
OLG is no stranger to offering various casino bonuses to newly registered Ontarians, along with existing customers. The current welcome bonus is worth up to $300 in bonus cash that you can receive for making three deposits of at least $15. There are no maximum withdrawal limits attached to the bonus, so whatever you win is yours to keep. What’s more, there is only a 10x wagering requirement for each of the three deposit match offers.
On the other hand, the arrival of new casinos can only improve the bonuses in the province. This is thanks to the no deposit bonus offers, elaborate bonus programs and VIP packages that online casinos offer to appeal to new patrons and retain the old ones.
Casinos in Ontario
There are over 25 land-based casinos scattered across Ontario and owned and operated by some of Canada’s biggest gambling companies, such as Gateway Casinos and Entertainment, Shorelines and others. Here is the information about them.
Ontario’s Elements Casinos
- Elements Casino Mohawk — 9430 Guelph Line, Campbellville, Ontario. Over 1,500 slots and 60 table games are available. A lucrative Elements Rewards loyalty program. The toll-free number for further info: 1-800-732-2230.
- Elements Casino Brantford — 40 Icomm Drive, Brantford, Ontario. Close to 550 slots and 55 table games featuring roulette, baccarat and blackjack. A poker room with 14 tables for daily cash games and tournaments. Call 519-752-5004 for more details.
- Elements Casino Grand River — 7445 Wellington County Road 21, Elora, Ontario. Opened in 2002. Features 500 slots and dozens of electronic table games. Open 24 hours a day on the weekends. Call 519-846-2022 for more info.
- Elements Casino Flamboro — 967 ON-5, Dundas, Ontario. Working 24/7. Over 100 slot machines with betting limits from one cent to $5. Electronic and table games are available as well. Telephone number 905-628-4275.
Ontario’s Gateway Casinos
- Gateway Casinos Innisfil — 7485 Fifth Side Road, Innisfil, Ontario. Located at the Georgian Downs racetrack and offering over 1,000 slots and 26 table games. Member of the My Club Rewards loyalty program. Dial 705-726-6770 for more info.
- Gateway Casinos Sault Ste. Marie — 30 Bay St., Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. Built in 1999 and occupies 35,000 square feet. Features close to 500 slots and 20+ table games. Phone 705-759-0100.
- Gateway Casinos Sudbury — 400 Bonin Road, Chelmsford Ontario. Hundreds of slots from providers such as Aristocrat and IGT. Dozens of table games. Phone line is 705-855-7164.
- Gateway Casinos Thunder Bay — 50 Cumberland St. S, Thunder Bay, Ontario. Open 24/7 with close to 500 slots and 14 table games across 14,000 square feet. Special live poker room. Dial 807-766-7900 for more info.
- Gateway Casinos Clinton — 147 Beech St., Clinton, Ontario. A racino with slots and pari-mutuel wagering on standardbred harness racing. Open 24/7. Phone 519-482-7540.
- Gateway Casinos Woodstock — 851 Nellis St., Woodstock, Ontario. Small casino with no more than 300 slots and video poker machines. Phone 519-537-4808.
- Gateway Casinos London — 900 King Street, East London, Ontario. Located on the Western Fairgrounds. Features over 750 slots and a good assortment of table games. Open 24/7. Phone 519-672-5394.
- Gateway Casinos Sarnia — 1730 London Line, Sarnia, Ontario. Part of the former Hiawatha Horse Park. Offers slots and harness race wagering. Phone 519-383-3732.
Ontario’s Shorelines Casinos
- Shorelines Casino Belleville — 50 Cumberland St., Thunder Bay, Ontario. Opened in 2017 and features close to 500 slots, video poker and table games. Located next to a Marriott hotel. Dial 613-689-9100 for more info.
- Shorelines Casino Peterborough — 1400 Crawford Drive, Peterborough, Ontario. Over 450 slots and 18 table games. Axis Rewards loyalty program. Phone 1-833-678-0880.
- Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands — 380 Highway 2, Gananoque, Ontario. More than 500 slots and close to 30 table games featuring blackjack, roulette and more. Live poker games. Phone 613-382-6800.
- Shorelines Slots at Kawartha Downs — 1382 Country Road #28, Fraserville, Ontario. Racino with slots and harness racing open 24/7. Dial 705-939-2400 for extra details.
All other OLG properties
- Casino Ajax — 50 Alexander’s Crossing, Ajax, Ontario. Part of the Ajax Downs racetrack. Featuring 900 slots and several electronic table games, together with quarter horse racing.
- Casino Woodbine — 555 Rexdale Blvd., Etobicoke, Ontario. Part of the Woodbine Racetrack and home to 100 table games, 250 electronic table games, and close to 3,000 slots.
- Casino Rama — 5899 Rama Road, Orillia, Ontario. Casino Rama Resort is owned by the Rama First Nation and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. Open 24/7 and features 2,200 slots and over 110 table games. Daily cash poker games and tournaments are also available. Phone, 1-800-832-7529
- Great Blue Heron Casino — 21777 Island Road, Port Perry, Ontario. Built in 1997. Close to 600 slots and 60 table games. A large entertainment centre. Phone 905-985-4888.
- Casino Niagara — 5705 Falls Ave., Niagara Falls, Ontario. Close to the famous waterfalls. Ninety-five thousand square feet of space with 1,300 slots and 40 table games. A live poker room with close to 30 tables. Dial 1-888-325-5788 for more details.
- Fallsview Casino Resort — 6380 Fallsview Blvd., Niagara Falls, Ontario. Massive 200,000 square feet of gambling space with 3,000+ slots, 130+ table games and electronic table games. Phone 1-888-325-5788.
- Rideau Carleton Casino — 4837 Albion Road, Ottawa, Ontario. Soon to be Hard Rock Casino. Part of the Rideau Carleton Raceway. Has more than 1,200 slots, close to 40 table games and five poker tables for cash games and tournaments. Phone 613-822-8668.
- Caesars Windsor — 377 Riverside Drive East, Windsor, Ontario. The oldest land-based casino in Ontario. One hundred thousand square feet of gambling space with over 3,000 slots, table games and live poker. Open 24/7. Call 800-991-7777.
- Playtime Casino Hanover — 275 Fifth St., Hanover, Ontario. Located at the famous Hanover Raceway. Over 300 slots, eight live table games and harness racing. Phone: 519-364-7606.
- Starlight Casino Point Edward — 2000 Venetian Blvd., Point Edward, Ontario. Slots, table games and three eateries. My Club Rewards loyalty program. Phone 519-383-7770.
- Cascades Casino Chatham — 615 Richmond St., Chatham, Ontario. New 24/7 casino with over 300 slots and 10 live table games. Dial 226-296-0309 for more info.
New casinos coming to Ontario
New casinos in Ontario are arriving quickly. The town of Wasaga Beach is one of the selected venues where a new Gateway Casinos and Entertainment 300-slot venue under the Cascades brand will go in. The Town Council chose the location for the casino in the west end of Wasaga Beach, where it will generate 150 new jobs for the locals. The town should see between $1.5 million to $2 million in taxes annually. The casino is scheduled to open in the third quarter of 2021.
Another casino project is Kenora, which will be the town’s first commercial casino. Gateway Casinos and Entertainment confirmed that the casino should open its doors to the public in 2022 and present its 23,300 square feet of casino space and hundreds of slot machines. The entire complex is expected to cost around $21 million. With the recently opened casinos in North Bay and Bellville and more of them under construction, Ontario is bound to retain its title as the province with the most extensive gambling options.
Ontario tax rates
The best thing about gambling in Canada is that you do not need to pay any taxes on winnings, as long as you’re not doing it professionally.
The casino operators foot the bill. Roughly 5.25 % of the first $65 million casinos earned on slots and 4% of all revenue generated on table games go back to the host community and town. That money then goes to hospitals, long-term capital investments and infrastructure.
Potential online casino operators could pay either a single rate based on the GGR or a special rate based on the type of services, the location, etc.
Where does the revenue go?
The revenue that the OLG generates is distributed to hospitals, problem gambling prevention and treatment agencies, amateur sports teams, and numerous other local charity organisations throughout Ontario. Since its inception, the OLG has paid over $55 billion to the province, thus funding hundreds of projects and initiatives.
In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, OLG contributed more than $5 billion in economic activity for Ontario. Also worth noting is that the internet gambling market in Ontario is expected to grow to more than $527.8 million by 2022–23, representing an increase of 3.4% compared to 2017-2018.
A portion of the revenue from Ontario’s gambling — 1.7% of annual gross gaming revenues — will go to the Gaming Revenue Sharing Agreement between Ontario’s First Nations and the OLG back in 2008.
Responsible gambling and PlaySmart
PlaySmart is a casino knowledge hub that OLG provides. It contains all the information and details about casino gambling and how to play the games and remain in control. As a result, it is a part of the overall PlaySmart responsible gambling program that helps players stay in control of gambling.