Lisa Gretzky, a Member of Provincial Parliament for Windsor West has implored Ontario’s provincial government to delay the launch of its new iGaming market. Gretzky expressed concerns that the new regime could spell disaster for the traditional brick-and-mortar casino industry, with many venues still having much of their staff on furlough.
With the launch of Ontario’s iGaming and sports betting market planned for April 4, 2022, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCGC) published a recent study on the planned expansion that revealed that the new market represents a significant threat to land-based casinos that pay far higher taxes than the iGaming market’s 20%.
Gretzky’s views are aligned with the GCGC and she has asked that the market launch be put on hold until the province’s casinos have had a chance to recall all staff. She added that the indigenous leaders, unions, chambers of commerce, workers, and mayors of Ontario are united in their position that the provincial government should reconsider the launch date.
The MPP explained that land-based casinos are compelled to give 55% of their net gambling profits to Ontario’s treasury. She stated that the billions of dollars that this funnels into public health care, education, and other initiatives could be in jeopardy.
Jobs on the Line
Canada’s largest union, Unifor, also spoke out saying that close to 1000 casino workers in the province stand to lose their jobs due to the emergence of the iGaming market. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and First Nation indigenous leaders expressed similar sentiments.
According to the GCGC’s review, Ontario’s government is facing a $3 billion reduction in land-based taxes over the next five years if it proceeds on its current path The agency added that more than 2500 gaming-related jobs would also be lost over the same period.
Looking at an example of the issue, Caesar Windsor Casino is projected to shed 100 of its 500 gaming-related jobs if things continue as they are. The assistant to Unifor’s National President, Chris MacDonald, added that the union is anticipating job losses and an inequitable scenario when the iGaming market is launched.
The More the Merrier
Those in favour of the province’s plans have argued against these alarming predictions, explaining that allowing legal online casino sites to operate will draw business away from illegal, offshore websites. Amidst this controversy, Ontario is still processing operator approvals, having recently awarded a license to Rush Street Interactive.