Will Ontario Turn to Online Gambling for Tax Revenue?

August 12, 2010

As Congress considers regulation of online gambling, our neighbors to the north are also hoping to turn gamblers’ enjoyment of offshore websites into an influx of tax revenue at home. From the Toronto Star:

Legalized online gambling is coming to Ontario and the cash-strapped Liberal government is betting it could mean an additional $400 million a year in revenue.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming chair Paul Godfrey announced Tuesday that the Crown corporation would spend the next 18 months consulting on Internet gambling with an eye to electronically rolling the dice in 2012.

“Across Canada and around the world, online commerce is part of our everyday lives and OLG is excited to start the consultation process for online gaming and growing its marketplace in the future,” said Godfrey. …

The Star disclosed on Saturday that Premier Dalton McGuinty’s administration, saddled with a $19.7 billion budget deficit, is “exploring” the possibility of expanding the gambling industry.

The hope is that an additional $400 million that is currently being gambled by Ontarians on offshore websites will stay in the province and boost OLG’s profits. Last year, the gambling monopoly generated $1.9 billion, which helped fund schools, hospitals, and other public works.

On Monday, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak warned Ontario taxpayers should be leery about McGuinty bringing Internet gaming here. …

“They have a voracious appetite for more and more tax dollars. They can’t control the OLGC as it is. This will be a disaster if Dalton McGuinty is running an online casino.”

Stung by offshore websites cashing in on the demand for Internet gaming, governments around the work [sic] have been legalizing online betting.

British Columbia, which last month became the first province or state in North America to offer legalized online casino gambling, has estimated it was losing $100 million to illegal websites abroad.


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