People have been gambling and betting online since the 90’s. It has been consistently growing and has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry.
The Government of Ontario is looking to get a piece of this lucrative sector, setting a launch date of April 4 for its new iGaming initiative.
The modernization of gaming revenue in Ontario is an important issue that provides new opportunities while also raising some concerns. It is anticipated that the iGaming initiative will allow the Government of Ontario to capture revenue that might otherwise go to offshore gaming providers. However, we are concerned that Ontario’s approach may come at the expense of current revenue and employment sources our communities depend on.
A recent study by HLT Advisory Inc. examining the impact of the iGaming initiative on Ontario’s gaming industry concluded that over the next 5 years there is a potential loss of more than 2,500 Ontario-based casino jobs, $191 million in municipal contributions and $3 billion in Ontario government revenues.
It’s not as simple as just regulating and taxing an existing offshore industry — it has real implications for jobs and revenue locally.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce is leading an advocacy initiative, working with eight additional chambers as well as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, to push for a more cautious, balanced approach to the iGaming rollout.
Ontario is not the first jurisdiction in North America to legalize iGaming. Every U.S. state that has introduced iGaming has done so in a coordinated manner with existing land-based casinos. While we remain supportive of proposals to expand opportunities for private enterprise within Ontario’s regulated gaming space, the chamber is raising concerns regarding direct impacts to land-based casino operations as a result of the legislation as currently drafted.
We are urging the Government of Ontario to:
● Work with stakeholders, including land-based casinos, to minimize local job losses and ensure the addition of iGaming will result in the growth of Ontario-based jobs in the gaming sector;
● Provide casino host communities with an iGaming plan that demonstrates a negligible impact on municipal revenue sharing;
● Provide municipalities across Ontario with an iGaming revenue sharing agreement with a similar structure to the gas tax program; and
● Work with stakeholders to establish a competitive tax rate for iGaming that is fair to land-based casinos but also encourages offshore operators to join Ontario’s proposed framework.
Our approach is not aimed at stifling a growing sector, but making sure our foray into it is balanced and doesn’t come at the cost of existing community benefits. We have an opportunity to make iGaming a win for communities across Ontario. Let’s take our time and get it right.
The Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce acts as a catalyst to enhance business growth, opportunity, innovation, partnerships and a diverse business community.