How will Burlington benefit from new online casino laws ?

News 100 blueBy Erin Quattro

June 25th, 2021




Ford OPEN for businessWhen Premier Doug Ford won a majority in the Ontario legislature it was widely noted that one of his manifesto commitments was to legalize a wider range of online casino providers in the province. This significant move would likely spell the end of the effective monopoly that Ontario Lottery and Gaming currently has – and offer a much wider variety of choice when it comes to providers, games, themes and more.

There’s been some debate in Burlington about what this move could end up meaning if Ford is able to get these changes through. This article will explore the considerations in more detail.

An increased range of choice

If Ontario’s government presses ahead with the liberalization of online casino laws, the main benefit will be a significant increase in range of personal choice when it comes to how Burlington’s residents might wish to spend their time. Casinos based on the web tend to offer many online slots, for example, and they may also offer more table games. However, at present, those who want to play online casino games have to do so using a province-run lottery version – meaning that the range of choice is particularly restricted.

This is already somewhat more liberal than in some other jurisdictions around the world, where governments continue to restrict access to all online casino games. But it’s not as liberal as in some other parts of the world, where there is a thriving and competitive gambling sector. Premier Doug Ford’s commitment to, in essence, privatize the gambling sector in Ontario is a way of helping people access the gambling services they want – rather than what services the province thinks is right for them.

As well as the simple right to choose what sort of game to play and which provider to use, a more competitive gambling sector is also likely to offer people the chance to pick the themes and aesthetics they prefer in their games. If a game or a theme is not available in the province-run version, it most likely will be in the private sector.

More revenue for the area

PAID taxing casinosHowever, Ford’s commitment also has another motive. Allowing online casino operators to work in the province means that they can be taxed – and this in turn can create a new stream of revenue for the local government. This can in turn, or at least in theory, be spent on services and provisions which benefit Burlington. Political decisions about what will be spent where do not yet appear to have been made for good, but a richer province often translates to better services and better provisions.

Some have sounded a note of caution about whether or not the revenue earned by the Ontario provincial government as a result of taxes raised on any potential private sector online casino would be spent on Burlington in particular, or whether it’s possible that other areas of the province might receive the bulk of the money. Of course, there is no guarantee that Burlington in particular will receive guaranteed funding for capital works or any major projects, but if the spending is assigned to the province generally, then it is likely that schools and other public services in the Burlington area will eventually benefit.

Impact on main street?

In some localities, question marks might be raised about whether or not in-person casinos will be harmed by the emergence of more appealing online alternatives – and whether this will have an impact on jobs, footfall and more. As it stands, however, there is currently no in-person casino in Burlington directly. There are some in the wider area, such as in Dundas, but Burlington itself is not served by such a venue – meaning that liberalization of online casinos is unlikely to have a direct negative effect on the city’s economy.

Overall, it remains to be seen exactly how Doug Ford’s plans will pan out in the long run. The level of detail around how this liberalization programme will be implemented is scant, and there’s still no firm guarantees about what any potential tax revenue may be spent on. What’s clear, however, is that there are certainly some advantages for residents of in-person casino-free Burlington. A much greater array of gambling choice is on the cards, for example, while a more padded bank account for the whole province can only be a good thing.

Background links:

Industry report


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