The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has announced plans to join British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, and the Atlantic provinces in the regulated online gambling market after announcing plans to roll out real-money games on PlayOLG.ca.
PlayOLG have e-mailed their 50,000+ player database to advise them that real-money options will materialize in “the coming weeks” and would like them to test the new games and provide feedback.
:We are looking at a phased-in approach,” OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti told the Windsor Star. “We are inviting people familiar with the games to play and get their feedback. Then we will open it up to the rest of the province.”;
The site is planning to offer action on lottery games such as LOTTO MAX, LOTTO 6/49, and ENCORE; slots, video poker, and a variety of table games.
News reports covering the story suggest that real-money online poker will follow soon, although there is no evidence of this on the PlayOLG website.
Perhaps online poker has been mentioned because PokerStars’ action in Ontario has been mentioned quite liberally as a great source of Ontarian money that is allowed to leave the province on a daily basis. It’s estimated that there are 500,000 gambling accounts in offshore or gray market online gambling websites, and PokerStars own a lot of those accounts.
We want to make sure that $500 million stays in Ontario,” Bitonti said. “That money is going offshore with no assurances people will get paid – and many of these websites have gone under and money was lost. We did market research and the trust factor is a big thing. People have faith this will be a regulated site and if they win, they will get paid.”
PlayOLG will only be offering action to Ontario residents, and there will be a strict requirement to provide the necessary means of identification, although geolocation technology is not mentioned.
Not everyone is pleased as punch with the initiative to keep Ontario’s gambling money in Ontario. I mean, come on, it wouldn’t be an online gambling set up story without the good, old-fashioned anti-gambling establishment throwing in their two pennies worth now would it?
What it’s going to do is get a lot of people not already gambling to go online and try it out,” said Robert Murray, education and community resources manager for the Problem Gambling Institute of Ontario. “There will be a subset that get in trouble with that. They are making gambling accessible 24/7 on any screen size – laptop, smart phone, tablet. You will be able to gamble in the middle of the night in your jammies with a case of beer beside you. There are risks to this.”
Murray believes that 2.5% of the Ontarian population have been impacted by some form of problem gambling, but PlayOLG are going all out to protect that number from increasing with a wide range of procedures installed to ensure problem gambling is nipped in the bud sharpish.
Players will be forced to set weekly deposit limits, there will be optional session time limits, casino stop-loss limits, and lottery purchase limits. There are also gambling check questionnaires and self-exclusion instructions.
OLG believes it will earn profits of over $375 million during the first five years of operation.