Ontario grossly ‘Underestimated’ offshore Canada online casinos

Canada online casinos are available to players in two forms. You have your regulated variety, available in three provinces and run by their respective governments. Then you have the unregulated variety, powered by offshore operators that accept Canadian players from abroad. The rivalry between those two sectors is heating up rapidly.

Canada Online Casinos Underprform ProjectionsIt’s the same old argument we’ve heard for decades. Buying local keeps money in the economy – in your government’s coffers to be filtered back into the community. But that argument often falls on deaf ears when the offers available from international merchants are much more appealing.

There’s no denying that offshore Canada online casinos provide better casino promotions, better odds on sports betting, and a larger pool of players for poker enthusiasts. Due to local laws and the ring fenced nature of regulated sites in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec, its proved difficult to convince residents to play at sites operated within their borders.

OLG Grossly Overestimates PlayOLG Revenue

Evidence of the fact is becoming all the more apparent these days. Ontario launched its provincially-run online gambling site, PlayOLG, in January 2015. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) lauded the site as a phenomenal success. Then in 2016, reforms were passed that resulted in the OLG projecting the website would deliver $1.26 billion each year into the tax coffers by the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Now that 2017 is here, regulators are scaling back their original predictions. The profit margin, initially predicted to reach $100million per year, came in at just $15 million in FY 2015-16.

They now say the online gambling site will generate an annual revenue of $889 million – 30% less than their original estimation – but don’t expect it to reach such heights until FY 2012-22.

Total revenue for the province’s regulated online gambling website hit $49 million in FY 2015-16, and is expected to reach $53 million in FY 2016-17. OLG has projected that figure will rise to $70 million by FY 2019-20, representing a 32% rate of growth over three years.

Scathing Response From Auditor General

Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, isn’t so sure. In September, she noted that the market was beginning to “stabilize”, and as a result, began to “question the optimism” of Ontario’s regulators.

She opined that OLG “underestimated the influence of the grey market”, otherwise known as offshore Canada online casinos, which continue to be more attractive to residents of Ontario than the home-grown variety.

The OLG responded in December by issuing a Request for Information, asking the government to commission researchers to investigate ways to implement a “new player platform”. The new platform would be designed to “improve the ways it connects with customers online and at retail.”

Furthermore, they believe a new platform would have the capability to “add to OLG’s existing digital presence by enhancing capability in areas like player registration, responsible gambling controls and player accounts.”

One research group, the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, is already on the job. They are conducting a study on the impact of Ontario’s legal online gambling website. That report is expected to be released sometime in “winter 2017”.

In the meantime, Ontario’s lawmakers continue to seek ways to prohibit offshore Canada online casinos from accessing the market without violating the constitution or individual rights to telecommunication services.

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