Joining the ranks of British Columbia, Quebec and select Atlantic Provinces, Ontario is poised to be the next Canadian Province to enter the online gaming market.
Although the Ontario government originally announced its intention in 2010 to offer online gaming, a later statement confirmed that the plan was to have an online solution by sometime in 2012. According to research, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) made mention that Ontarians were spending more than $400 million annually on offshore gaming websites.
The OLG has just issued a Request for Proposals to develop online casino games and sell lottery tickets online later today. We can also assume that online poker games will also be part of the online games offering though there is no indication or guarantee that Ontario will join British Columbia and Quebec in their Canadian Poker Network.
In the past, Ontario has taken a different approach than say Quebec with respect to their land based casino businesses choosing to go into partnership with private companies possessing in depth knowledge of gaming such as Caesars Entertainment (Casino Windsor) instead of being casino operators themselves. It will be interesting to see whether the OLG decide to follow a similar approach with all or part of their online gaming business. If yes, then we could potentially see partnerships with well known online gaming sites such as Party Poker or Poker Stars, a move that could potentially guarantee the OLG an established client base, years of expertise, and as far as poker goes, access to international player liquidity which would make it a very attractive offering for poker players from Ontario.
The online gaming site would allow residents of Ontario to gamble online after an age verification check was made. The minimum gambling age for Ontario residents is 19 but lottery tickets can be purchased by those 18 and over.
It appears that the plan is to be set up near the end of 2012 though all efforts will be made to go live as soon as possible.
Here is a brief summary from the RFP just issued by the Ontario Government.
The Ontario Government has tasked OLG with launching safe, secure, and responsible Internet GAMING. To meet these commitments, OLG is planning a phased launch that will include player education, pre-registration and a full suite of social responsibility measures. It is anticipated that these activities will take several months beginning near the end of 2012. OLG will continuously seek new ways of accelerating the timing of a launch as new information is obtained. OLG is monitoring developments in a number of other jurisdictions to benefit from emerging technological advances and best practices in an evolving marketplace (e.g. British Columbia, Quebec and some Provinces in Atlantic Canada, and some of the EU member states, such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark, France and Italy). OLG-sponsored Internet GAMING will provide a regulated option for players that incorporates security safeguards and encourages responsible gambling.