Online Gambling Is Now Legal and Regulated in Ontario

The largest province in Canada, Ontario, launched 100% legal and regulated online gambling to its residents on April 4, 2022.

The online gambling world in Ontario is changed forever after the Canadian province legalised online casinos in addition to online poker. The move is something Australian authorities could learn from if it proves successful.

Online gambling in Ontario was a grey area for several years. While technically not illegal, it was not explicitly legal either. Everything changed on April 4, 2022, because the Ontario government gave the green light for private companies to offer their services to Ontarians.

Ontario is one of four Canadian provinces where online gaming is legal and regulated. British Columbia, Manitoba, and Loto Quebec ate the other three. Those three states have a monopoly on online games, but Ontario is different. Why? Because it allows private companies to operate within the province’s borders.

What Are The New Rules For Gambling in Ontario?

Online poker, online casinos, and online sports betting is 100% legal with immediate effect. That is if the companies obtain a licence from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). There are several new rules and regulations in force; the AGCO is protecting Ontario residents.

First, the legal gambling age is 19-years-old. Second, all play is in Canadian dollars and never other currencies or credits. The AGCO demanded this so it is easier for players to follow bankroll management and know their wins and losses.

In addition, pokies cannot spin more than once every 2.5 seconds. Furthermore, split-screen pokies are not permitted and players cannot play more than one machine at a time. Also, pokies cannot celebrate wins when they are actually losses. For example, “winning” $1 when it cost $2 to spin. Celebratory animations and sounds are not permitted under these circumstances.

Online poker players see the biggest changes, changes that have not gone down too well. Poker players are ring-fenced in a segregated player pool. This means Ontarians can only play poker against other Ontarians. The segregation means a much smaller player pool that they experience on dot-com platforms. However, Ontario is the largest province in Canada with a population approaching 15 million.

888poker is the first online poker site up and running under the new rules. Other giants, including partypoker, PokerStars, and GGPoker, are launching later this month.

Huge Tax Revenues Expected

The Ontario government expects significant tax revenues from the online gaming companies operating in the province. It has not yet released the taxation rates, however. Live casinos pay a massive 55% tax to the government. However, this rate of taxation is not attractive for online entities, meaning the rate is likely to be lower. Figures of 20% are initially in force.

Currently, Ontario residents do not pay tax on online gambling winnings, but it is possible that will change. However, professional gamblers are liable for taxation.

Australia Could Learn a Thing or Two From Canada

Online gambling in Ontario is in its infancy but the world’s eyes are on it. Australia is one country watching intently. Australians gambling in online casinos all the time but the government often misses out on tax revenue. Regulating the industry would see the likes of Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment launch products.

Neighbouring New Zealand already has a brick-and-mortar casino with an online arm. ASX-listed SkyCity has an online casino where business is booming. The casino is based in Malta and operates under a Maltese gaming licence. It created $7,256,000 in net revenue in the six months to December 31, 2020. That figure increased to $9,317,000 in the six months to December 31, 2021. Those figures are impressive for a start-up and are continually growing.

“While ultimately a regulated online gaming market remains the preferred solution, the site launch is another step on our journey of pursuing opportunities to grow and diversify our earnings, addressing a new, fast-growing industry which is highly complementary to our land-based activities and offering customers a multi-channel gaming experience,” chief executive Graeme Stephens said in a statement when the online casino launched.