Report: Ontario Gaming Exec Says Great Canadian Study Could Delay Online Launch By Three Months

Written By Dave Briggs on January 19, 2022 - Last Updated on January 24, 2022
Delayed

The opening of Ontario’s market for online casinos and sports betting could be delayed by three months.

That’s the opinion of an Ontario gaming executive reacting to the release of a study commissioned by the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. The study concluded the Ontario government would lose $2.8 billion in tax revenue over five years if it legalized a range of major Ontario online casinos and sportsbooks. Jobs lost could number 2,500, the study said.

“There is significant chance (the opening of the market) could be delayed,” the unnamed gaming executive told the Legal Sports Report. “More than 50%, in my opinion. (Great Canadian) has $2 billion invested in the province. It is the largest single employer in the gaming sector. Anyone ignoring that fact is a lobbyist.”

Further, Great Canadian operates 14 of Ontario’s 28 casinos. The other four operators of land-based casinos in the province have not publicly opposed online gaming and betting, another source told LSR.

Delay announced soon

The provincial government could announce whether to delay the launch next week, Ontario-based gaming consultant Terry Debono told LSR.

The province’s online market was to open before the end of March. But with a provincial election scheduled for no later than June 2, some experts believe there will be a 90-day delay in opening.

The ruling Progressive Conservatives are in favour of opening the gaming market. But parties often try to avoid controversial topics when going to the polls. And, Ontario’s other political parties have yet to state an expanded online market position.

The study’s conclusions disputed

The government and the CBC have seen the study. A CBC report released Monday said the study warns of $550 million in annual revenue losses for Ontario. The study, prepared by HLT Advisory Inc., concluded online entities would cannibalize land-based casino revenue. Further, the study states that opening the market is bad for local governments, unions, first nations and responsible gaming.

Though, many industry experts disputed the conclusions in the study. Jeffrey Haas, senior vice-president of DraftKings, told CBC that opening the market would benefit Ontarians and the government. He believes players are more likely to abandon using illegal offshore sites to move to legal operators taxed and regulated.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. operates the province’s only legal online sportsbook, Proline Plus, and the only legal casino through olg.ca.

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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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