Report: Great Canadian Study States Ontario’s Planned iGaming Market Will Hurt Revenues

Written By Dave Briggs on January 17, 2022

Canada’s largest casino operator is attempting to put the brakes on Ontario’s plan to open the online gaming market to competition from major operators.

A study commissioned by Great Canadian Casino Corporation concludes iGaming Ontario’s plan to legalize a range of major Ontario online casino and sportsbook companies will result in $2.8 billion in lost tax revenue in five years to the province, according to a report.

CBC cited the GCGC study in a report on Monday. It had been circulated to the Ontario government prior. Many industry insiders disputed the conclusions in the study prepared by HLT Advisory Inc. A white paper from our sister site PlayCanada last year projected $278 million in additional tax revenue to Canadian provinces from sports betting. Ontario is planning to regulate online casinos as well.

iGaming Ontario has been gearing up to open the online market as early as February or March of 2022. It reports directly to the provincial regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

GCGC warns of casino revenue cannibalization

British Columbia-based Great Canadian has a vested interest in keeping further competition out of the market. It operates 26 land-based casinos nationally, 14 of those in Ontario.

The CBC report says the study warns of $550 million in annual revenue losses for Ontario by cannibalize revenue from land-based casinos. Further, the study states the plan is bad for local governments, unions, first nations and responsible gaming.

Currently, only the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. can legally take online bets through its casino at olg.ca and its Proline Plus sportsbook.

The president of the Canadian Gaming Association said there’s no way to know how much casino business will move online. Paul Burns told CBC it is problematic to draw conclusions from other jurisdictions to predict what will happen in Ontario.

Report’s conclusion disputed

Jeffrey Haas, senior vice-president of DraftKings, disputed the report’s main conclusion that casino patrons would shift to online betting. He believes players are more likely to move to legal operators from offshore sites that are not taxed and regulated.

“People who are playing in online casinos and online sportsbooks and online poker rooms will continue to do so,” Haas told CBC. “Except they’re going to go from playing offshore to onshore. And anybody who continues to walk into real casinos in order to play games there will continue to do so.”

What will the province do?

There’s no word whether the province takes Great Canadian’s study seriously. But those hoping for an open market are concerned. There’s a chance the report could delay Ontario’s launch until after the provincial election, which must occur on or before June 2, 2022.

And other political parties have yet to state their position on iGaming.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Dave Briggs

Before joining PlayOntario, Dave spent more than 25 years as a writer and editor, mainly covering horse racing in Canada. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Western University and was a 2018 inductee into the Communicators' Corner of the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Beyond a deep passion for family and music, Dave has a mostly-tragic, life-long love of Detroit sports teams. He lives in Port Stanley, Ontario with his wife and their beloved Vizsla named California.

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