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Ontario Furthers Online Gambling Implementation

By: Joan Peppin, Wednesday June 8th 2011
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The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) had announced in August 2010 that it intended to follow the footsteps of the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec in offering regulated online gambling to its residents. The next announcement has taken a long time. OLG has now stated that it has appointed online gambling expert Sports Gaming Limited as a consultant. Sports Gaming, which was selected after a competitive process, will assist and advise OLG in the implementation process. The objective is to deliver an appealing, well-managed and well-run online gaming site that will meet Ontarians' expectations for such an offering, and simultaneously increase net profit to the province. The target is to have regulated online gambling running in Ontario in 2012.

OLG has identified five key public interest principles that will be the cornerstones of its online gambling venture. These are to promote responsible gambling, prevent access by minors, protect personal information, ensure the integrity of games and support the detection of money laundering and other criminal activity. In consultation with Sports Gaming, OLG has decided to obtain inputs from external agencies on how best to meet its stated objective without compromising on the public interest principles.

Sports Gaming and OLG have identified three mechanisms for collecting the necessary information. The first has been termed as Expert Roundtables. Advice will be sought from domestic and international experts in the fields of responsible gambling, data privacy and crime prevention. The objective is to incorporate strong controls and standards based on the experiences acquired globally. The second mechanism seeks to join hands with public sector partners. Some of the bodies identified are the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation and Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada. The third mechanism will be soliciting inputs from the business community through a fair, open and transparent bidding process to contract with qualified vendors. This process was already initiated on November 15, 2010, when OLG requested information from relevant vendors. Now OLG will initiate a Request for Proposals, which will be available for all members of the public to view.

The statement from OLG read, "Between now and 2012 when the program is set to launch, OLG will benefit from analyzing and enhancing best practices and security procedures adopted in other jurisdictions across Canada and in Europe. In particular, OLG will implement a strong responsible gambling program and offer increased player protections, secure transactions and data privacy." The statement also noted that an estimated $1 billion is wagered annually by Canadians on online gambling websites that are not authorized in Ontario. Of the $1 billion wagered, an estimated $400 million is spent by Ontarians.

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