Ontario’s Coffers Running Dry, Online Gambling to Fill Them

It’s amazing how fast an assembly can completely flip their opinion and start rallying for the other side, especially when there is much needed monetary value involved. That is exactly what the public officials of Ontario, Canada (and one southerly neighbor who needs no mention) have done.

With the economy waning, Ontario’s government is seeking new ways to fill its coffers, and what better resolution than to permit the one thing they’ve staunchly denied their citizens over the years; online gambling. Many residents of Ontario have been pushing for a legalized internet gaming structure for quite some time now, and it looks like they are finally going to get it.

Travel back in time a few years to 2006, right around the time the United States was determined to outlaw the act of wagering online with its haunting passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), and we find the Province of Ontario, Canada mirroring the assessments of the US government.

“I don’t see us moving to legalese Internet gaming – that’s not an option we’re even considering,” came the unwavering judgment of Gerry Phillips, Minister for Government Services at that time. “But I don’t underestimate the complexities of this thing down the road.”

It seems ‘down the road’ has finally caught up with the province, or perhaps they are simply stalking the path of the US. Ontario is following in its southerly neighbor’s footsteps by seeking a legalized infrastructure for online casino and poker gambling that would constrain betting to within their own borders, whereas other regions, like the UK, have opened the virtual gaming doors to a licensed and regulated, semi-global market.

Another example of Ontario’s emulating the American government was its strict refusal to allow the advertisement of real money online gaming sites back in 2006, when the issue of remote gambling was swelling blood vessels in the foreheads of the US Department of Justice. But as officials in Ontario turn an inquisitive ear to the distinct tune of impending legalization of intrastate online gaming across parts of the USA, they are also forced to look a little closer to home at other provinces in Canada who have been harvesting quite the cash crop from tearing down the walls of online gambling prohibition in recent years.

The last time Ontario officials considered legalization of online casinos and poker sites within its borders, the economic outlook didn’t seem much better. In 2006, Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) casinos had fallen on very hard times; their net revenue having dropped a staggering 75.6% from 2001. It would have been a pertinent time to deliberate the value of launching the OLG into cyberspace. But yet again, the Canadian province echoed the portent of the United States, testifying that online gambling was an unnecessary evil, an immoral approach to tax gains. They justified their stance with exhibit “A”, a study performed by the Responsible Gaming Council that declared online gaming was the direct cause of a spike in problem gambling.

Here we are in 2013 and, alas, the more adventuresome population of Ontario can finally rejoice as the Canadian province has completely flipped its outlook on the prospect of a legally licensed online gambling framework. Ontario has already proposed the introduction of online casinos and poker sites as early as 2013.

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