Ontario was the latest province to create its own state-run online gambling services in 2015. The province joined others in Canada with the hopes of creating a safer alternative to privately owned online casinos and sports betting sites. In addition, revenue generated by provincial online gambling would go towards funding public works projects and community improvement. The province’s site, PlayOLG, would act as the central point from which local players could access the casino games they wanted.
However, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is still far behind its fellow competition in other provinces, according to the statistics in a recent report. The OLG showed a total revenue of $58 million brought in over the fiscal year of 2016 to 2017. While the number is certainly not small, it pales in comparison to the funds generated by neighbors British Columbia and Quebec. What’s more is that privatized online casino sites add another competitive option to the industry, even though these casinos operate in somewhat of a legal gray area. According to legislation in Ontario, private companies cannot provide gambling services over the internet. Still, thousands players in the province access these sites all the time.
The online gambling market in Canada is naturally following the growth of what the industry is experiencing on a global scale. One major issue is converting players who already use private online casinos which, according to popular opinion, offer a far superior product. While Canadian players may not get penalized for using private online gambling services, the laws in Ontario offer no protection should a player get defrauded. Although PlayOLG is growing right along with other operators, the actual growth is much slower than expected.
According to the Criminal Code of Canada, it is against the law to run an online casino or betting service in the country. However, the legislation also specifically states that the final decision about online gambling is to be made on a provincial level. In fact, provincial governments are the only bodies allowed to create and maintain gambling operations at all. A lack of centralized regulations makes for a very confusing industry in Canada, which may very well affect the performance of sites like PlayOLG. The only exception is the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which can license private online casinos to operate from tribal territory in Quebec.
PlayOLG had plans to go live back in 2012, but faced delays and ended up launching three years later. The idea was to offer online gambling to players with safety and security being the top priority. Products on the PlayOLG site primarily come from an agreement between the corporation and gaming developer IGT. Ontario’s gambling site states that it plans to add other games like bingo, online poker, and sports betting in addition to online casinos and the lottery. The extra games are still not available.
Ontario is the province with the largest population, yet it does not create as much revenue through online gambling as its less populous counterparts. If PlayOLG truly wants to be successful in a highly competitive market, it will need to branch out and take advantage of its advantageous position in the country.