Ontario Jobs Report Draws More Praise For Province's Private Model

June 20, 2024
With Ontario’s regulated and private online gaming market now more than two years old, and with more data coming out to back the model’s success, government officials and industry leaders say the model is one that future provinces should look to replicate.

With Ontario’s regulated and private online gaming market now more than two years old, and with more data coming out to back the model’s success, industry officials say the model is one that other provinces should look to replicate.

The latest new data point was released Tuesday (June 18) by iGaming Ontario (iGO), in the form of a report prepared by Deloitte that the province’s private online gaming model contributed to almost 15,000 jobs in the province during its second year of operation, which culminated on April 3.

“The numbers continue to be encouraging,” said Martha Otton, executive director of iGO, which conducts and manages the province’s online gaming model, during an appearance at the Canadian Gaming Summit on Wednesday.

The report also highlighted an average salary of more than $122,000, a 60 percent increase over the province’s average salary for full-time employment.

“Remember, all of these jobs did not exist in 2020 or 2021,  and it was a direct result of smart government policy that created them,” said Patrick Harris, managing partner of Ontario-based Rubicon Strategy. “When you think about how governments go about enticing industries to come to a place … they don’t have to give any corporate welfare, none, zero."

“In fact, it’s the inverse,” he added. “They're getting hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, and they're getting incredibly high-paying jobs that come along with it.”

The question of job creation or cannibalization of existing land-based jobs has also become a flashpoint in several U.S. jurisdictions that have considered legalizing online casino gaming, including New York and Maryland.

“That's the perennial question that we get asked as an online or digital gambling operator in every single jurisdiction, how many jobs will you create in my jurisdiction or in my country,” added Martin Lycka, senior vice president for American regulator affairs and responsible gambling for Entain. “That's never been a straightforward answer.”

“This report demonstrates not only the success of the Ontario regime as a whole, but it also provides an answer to one of the key questions that we've been struggling with answering.”

The praise continued throughout the day during the summit from stakeholders throughout the industry both inside the provincial government and external, particularly in the context of Alberta purportedly looking to borrow heavily from Ontario in forming its own privately-operated model.

“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel,” Lycka said. “My American colleagues might hate me for saying this, but the Ontario regulation has established itself as the platinum standard of iGaming regulation not only because of what's in the regulation but also because of the way it's been done.”

Lycka cited the “open-door policy” of regulators and willingness to consult with operators as keys to the province’s success.

“The most important lesson out of Ontario is the Ontario regulatory regime, working side by side with the OLG, that this model works and it works infinitely better than we thought it would,” said Ontario gaming lobbyist Troy Ross, president of TRM Public Affairs.

“For the other provinces, if you want a similar result, take a similar approach to the one Ontario has taken,” Ross said. “Reasonable regulation, reasonable taxation, and you will get a very similar result in channelization.”

More clarity on Alberta's plans could come from the summit on Thursday, as Dale Nally, minister of service and red tape reduction for the province, is set to speak at the conference for the first time. 

Nally received a mandate from Alberta Premier Danielle Smith in July 2023 to "finish developing and implementing Alberta's online gaming strategy" and the Alberta legislature approved a bill last month that gives the provincial government the ability to conduct and manage gaming in the province, a right previously only granted to lottery corporation Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

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