Will Ontario’s gaming regulation set a precedent for other provinces in Canada?

Ontario Gambling Regulations
18th Jun, 2024
Simon Colmenares Author Profile Photo Simon Colmenares

Ontario captured the attention of the iGaming world in April 2022 when the provincial authorities amended the gambling laws to permit independent iGaming service providers to operate there legally. This move definitely caught other provincial jurisdictions in Canada by surprise, and a couple of years later, based on the growth and sheer numbers of Ontario's iGaming market, this decision was vindicated. A guinea pig experiment turned out to be a stroke of genius and a case study for other provinces in Canada and countries worldwide. 

Ontario's success in the iGaming market will definitely impact other provinces in Canada, which will follow the same path because of the roadmap already in place. It's a bit too early to tell the full extent of changes to the laws in Ontario, but the signs are good, and the forecast looks promising. 

The Canadian gambling industry hasn't been relatively smooth — other provinces can help streamline it by inviting commercial players like onlinecasinoontario.net into their individual markets. However, Canada's federal government's liberal approach to online gambling, allowing provinces to regulate their own markets, has set the precedent for the provinces to take a similar approach. 

What’s more, if regulating and streamlining the markets isn't a good enough reason, there is the revenue point-of-view. The provinces stand to create a new stream of revenue due to the taxes, and based on the iGaming revenue numbers in Ontario, it is a huge chunk of change to turn down. 

Alberta is Exploring the Ontario Route 

The question of the next province in Canada to follow Ontario's lead seems like a matter of when rather than if, going by intriguing developments earlier this year. In a conference in London that in part discussed the success of iGaming in Ontario and the lessons to learn from there, the Minister of Service in Alberta, Dale Nally, met the Attorney General of Ontario, General Doug Downey, and the former said that Alberta province is in a phase of exploring the regulations set by Ontario. 

Nally insisted on Alberta’s commitment to the options as he was tasked with working with others to develop an online gaming blueprint by Alberta’s premier, Danielle Smith. The plan is to revolve around responsible gaming and revenue generation. Nally said, “Alberta can be a leading hub for igaming, with a strong emphasis on openness and a free market. We have low corporate taxes, streamlined regulations, and high disposable incomes. These conditions will allow us to establish ourselves as a premier destination for the igaming industry.”

Ontario Numbers at a Glance 

It’s easy to see why the revenue generated by the Ontario market is a strong point of consideration by interested parties. A report tabled by iGaming Ontario showed that in the 3rd quarter of 2023, total wagers placed in the province amounted to $17.2 billion, a 21% increase from the previous quarter. The total gaming revenue generated totalled $545 million, a 22% increase over the previous quarter. 

In the first year of Ontario’s open market, independent licensed regulators posted a total of $35.5 billion in total wagers and $1.4 billion in revenue. Moreover, 1.65 million Ontarians held accounts with over 40 operators plus 70 brands in the market, with an average spending of $70 per account per month. 

In the same year, an Ipsos survey showed that more people in Ontario were registered on online sites on average than the national average, and more Canadians are getting into online gambling. Even if Ontario is the most populated province in Canada, other provinces can take hope from the ratio of population to these figures—it’s still a sizable amount. 

Canada’s Federal Government Took Notice 

Perhaps other provincial jurisdictions can borrow a leaf from the federal government, which took notice of the impact of modernizing Ontario’s gambling laws. The federal government’s move to legalize single-events betting in the country was inspired by the success in Ontario and the ripple effect is the thriving iGaming industry in Ontario that we see today. If other provinces can legalize and regulate their iGaming industry, the potential for the expanding industry would be huge. 

Talks of interprovincial collaboration have emerged to ensure consistency in regulations and avoid overlapping laws between the provinces and the national government. For example, back in 2020, British Columbia, Quebec, and Ontario agreed to share player liquidity for online poker. This means that players from the provinces can compete with one another, improving the player experience and creating larger prize pools. 

The cooperation is a good precedent for other sectors of gambling regulation, which is good for players, service providers, and authorities. Service providers can enjoy a more consistent theme in terms of regulations, and the combined authorities can push for better player protection, responsible gambling, and not to mention gambling revenue. The grand experiment in Ontario has entered its third year, and it's safe to say that its success has been more than expected.

Although no other province has undertaken the same route in terms of regulating online gambling, the signs are there, and in its third year, the market is relatively young. Ontario is now a case study for many states in the US and other countries, so it only makes sense that other provinces draw inspiration for their gaming regulations closer to home. 

18th Jun, 2024
Simon Colmenares