On Saturday, The Star Canada’s largest daily newspaper, reported that Premier Dalton McGuinty’s administration is facing a $19.7 billion budget deficit. Due to this, McGuinty is looking into the possibility of Ontario expanding into the online gambling industry.
The government needs money, and sources say legalizing online gambling could bring in up to $500 million a year. The Ontario government is reporting that this would be in addition to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s $1.9 billion profit reported in 2009.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s chairman Paul Godfrey said in a Star article:
“It’s something that I would explore . . . (because) money is going out of this province to other provinces as well as offshore sites. The fact is that it’s there at the present time all around us.”
Of course there is political opposition to this solution lead by Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak. He told reporters Monday,
“Listen, this guy has had two consecutive major scandals at the OLGC, they’ve gone through five CEOs, they can’t run the existing casinos let Internet gambling. They have a voracious appetite for more and more tax dollars. They can’t control the OLGC as it is. This will be a disaster if Dalton McGuinty is running an online casino.”
Like most other countries currently looking into some sort of legalized and regulated online gambling, they want to recoup the money that is currently being gambled on sites located offshore and bring that money back where it can help put money in the local coffers.
Right now, like some other Canadian provinces, Ontario is keeping a close eye on British Columbia who recently legalized online gambling. B.C. estimates that close to $100 million was leaving their area and going to outside gambling websites.
Many in Ontario are already leery of existing brick and mortar casinos after a couple recent scandals involving the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation so it may be a tough sell to convince them that they are capable of running an online gambling site. However the promise of additional monies to aid the local economy may be all the push needed.