Even after North America’s first government-approved online casino proved to be something of a disaster in British Columbia, the province of Ontario is considering becoming another province to regulate and tax online casinos in Canada.
Government officials told local media on Friday that fully legalized online gambling in Ontario would is “something that we’re exploring,” perhaps based on Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) chairman Paul Godfrey’s earlier admonishment that the issue needed addressing because “Money is going out of this province to other provinces as well as offshore sites.”
Finance minister Dwight Duncan has stated that it is too early to say when or even if Ontario will be getting online gambling regulation anytime in the medium-term future, but this was before new budgetary figures showed a $19.7-billion deficit for the province – with about 18 months before the national elections in October 2011.
OLG reported $1.9 billion in revenues in 2009, but the board claims it has been losing market share to offshore betting sites steadily for years. British Columbia resident are estimated to spend about $100 million annually on offshore gambling websites, and some experts claim Internet gambling in Canada has been rising at a 20% growth rate annually since 2006.
Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty has stated that, though the provincial government need new source of income, “in a perfect world, Ontario would not have to rely on gambling revenue at all.” Last month, McGuinty told reporters asking him about fully regulated gambling in the province that “I know B.C.’s gone there; Quebec’s gone there. And I’ll wait for the advice of the Minister of Finance on that.”