Jan 26, 2022

ONTARIO SPORTS BETTING FACES OPPOSITION THAT COULD CAUSE A DELAY IN LAUNCHING

Canada Sportsbooks · Bonus Codes · Betting News · Special Update

Another obstacle has arisen when it comes to a potential Ontario sports betting launch. A local casino group has now voiced its opposition to the planned launch. Last week, Great Canadian Gaming, GCC, which is the largest land-based casino operator in the province, circulated a report claiming the planned rollout of iGaming would cost jobs and hurt tax revenues.

Great Canadian Gaming claimed the liberal online framework would cannibalize the revenues from land-based casinos. They also claimed this would put 2,500 jobs in jeopardy as well as, over the next five years, cut tax revenue by $2.65 billion.

Now, Great Canadian Gaming is demanding a number of concessions when it comes to Ontario sports betting. These include:

  • Comparable tax rates (land-based revenues face a 55% tax rate) for retail operators and iGaming
  • Land-based operators receive two years of exclusivity over online betting and gaming
  • Online casino licenses for land-based operators solely
  • Online betting licenses available in a limited number, with potential tethering requirements

Already, online operators have fired back at the Great Canadian Gaming report. DraftKings, in speaking to Canadian news outlet CBC, levied that the argument around cannibalization was flawed. The senior vice-president of DraftKings, Jeffrey Haas, stated that when it comes to a regulated open market in Ontario, nothing will change the entertainment habits of the players.

He believes customers who play in online casinos and online sportsbooks as well as online poker rooms will keep doing so. However, the change will be that players will stop using offshore operators that are illegally operating. He also feels that players who prefer land-based operators/real casinos will continue to give their business in that way even when given the newer options.

An Ontario gaming exec feels that, even if the report lacks certain merits, it could delay the launch of Ontario sports betting by an additional three months. At this time, the market is scheduled to launch before the end of March.

The exec feels there is a 50 percent chance the launch could be delayed because Great Canadian Gaming has $2 billion invested in Ontario. This makes it the largest single employer in the gaming sector.

However, it is important to note that Great Canadian Gaming is a lone dissenting voice when it comes to online betting and gaming in Ontario. At this time, none of the other four land-based casino operators in the province have supported this stance publicly from Great Canadian Gaming.

In June, Ontario will have a provincial election. So, the government in the province could choose to postpone an Ontario sports betting launch until after that election. The exec stated that if this delay does happen, it will most likely not be a short one because election mode makes governments likely to avoid controversy at all costs.

An Ontario-based gaming consultant, Terry Debono, stated that the government could make its decision surrounding an Ontario sports betting launch delay within the next week. He feels all eyes should be on Ontario at this time.

When Ontario sports betting does launch, it is expected to be huge. Because the province boasts a population of almost 15 million, that is a huge betting pool. A population that size would make it the fifth-largest state in the United States. A report from Eilers & Krejcik estimates that, in 2022, Ontario sportsbooks could generate up to CAD $570 million in sports betting revenue.

The largest city in Ontario, Toronto, is a huge sports hub in North America. It has teams in the NBA, MLS, NHLMLB, and the CFL. Plus, Ottawa has both an NHL and CFL team. Hamilton has a CFL team. These professional sports teams could prove lucrative for sports betting in the province.

Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert. You can learn more about our author's expertise here.

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