Struggling Ontario turns to online gambling for revenue

Apr 27, 2015

It's too soon to tell just how successful Ontario's entry into online gambling has been. But it could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to a province that is in dire need of cash. 

Online gambling at Ontario's Lottery and Gaming Corporation website doesn't replace the real thing, but for hardcore gamblers it doesn't have to.

What it will do, according to OLG,  is add a level of trust that doesn't exist for many "suspect" gambling websites.

For the province it's an opportunity to tap into another source of revenue. It is estimated that there are as many as half-a-million gamblers in Ontario who are spending money online and the province is hoping to bring in about $375 million in profit over the five years and about $100 million a year after that.

Ontario has come late to the table. British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces already offer online gaming with casino-style games such as slots, blackjack, baccarat, poker and roulette.

The Ontario site even has tutorials so people can learn how to play.
"When it comes to games of chance, they don't get much more famous than roulette. And now that you're interested in learning its ropes, your first step is really deciding which kind you want to play first," one tutorial says.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation says the online site is safe, regulated and privacy is protected, and there pre-set limits on how much people can gamble each week and how much time they can spend doing it.
But critics say online gambling still puts vulnerable people at risk, and will likely encourage youth gambling and gambling addictions.
That won't likely make much difference to a government that is running a deficit of more than $10 billion and needs every potential revenue stream it can tap into.