Ontario round-up: Restrictions lifting, calls for online casino control

As Ontario reveals its plan to lift Covid restrictions, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, which operates 12 casinos in the province, is lobbying for casinos to be allowed to take control of legal online betting.

Ontario province

The Ontario Government has announced its plan for casinos reopenings and revised capacity limits for sports venues. According to a statement, casinos are allowed to reopen at 50% capacity on 31 January, while sports venues can raise capacity to 50% on 21 February.

The final plan involves having all capacity limits removed for both casinos and sports venues by 14 March.

Both proof of Covid vaccination and masks will be mandatory when entering casinos and sports venues in the province, and no end date has been announced for these measures.

It’s also unclear if customers will be allowed to enjoy food and beverages while attending games once the doors open to the public again.

At the same time, The Great Canadian Gaming Corporation is lobbying against the launch of Ontario’s private market for online gambling and sports wagers, and urges the province to allow casinos to take control of legal online betting.

According to Great Canadian Gaming, online sites would “cannibalise” the profits of land-based casinos. The corporation presented a report that predicted about 2,600 lost casino jobs and CA$2.8bn (US$2.23bn) less in tax revenue over five years – if Ontario is to open up the markets as planned.

At the same time, other Canadian players in the iGaming space consider Great Canadian’s report to be founded on a false argument, as the market is already overrun by foreign-owned grey market gaming companies.

Benjie Levy, President and COO of theScore, which is now owned by Penn National, argued: “We’re not seeing job losses and we’re seeing the market in totality grow.”

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