host of potential changes to laws governing alcohol sales and consumption and gambling were outlined in Ontario's Progressive Conservative government's first budget unveiled on Thursday.
The PC government says it's time to "treat adults like adults" and let Ontarians "drink in public parks, bet on single-game sporting events and make it easier for venues to host amateur combative sports." Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said the government trusts people to make the "right decisions" when it comes to drinking alcohol and gambling.
The 283-page budget features sections that could favor the expansion of the province's current online gaming market. In that same line, the government has also revealed future plans to offer legalized sports betting as well.
Premier Doug Ford's government wants to open online casino-style gaming — currently only available through the government-owned Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. — to private companies. In the long term, the government also wants single-sport betting to become legal, CBC reports. However, that requires changes to the Criminal Code of Canada.
iDEA Growth, a trade association advocating for regulated online gaming, praised the release of Ontario's 2019 budget,
"Ontario's plans to establish a competitive market for online legal gaming is a positive development for the industry, players and taxpayers," said Jeff Ifrah, founder of iDEA Growth. "Competition will provide consumers with choice while, at the same time maximizing revenue for the government."
In the budget, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli promised "to develop a market that reflects consumer preferences, fosters an exciting gaming experience and minimizes the burden on business while ensuring appropriate protections are in place." iDEA Growth believes this approach will strike an appropriate balance.
As for Ontario's call for the Government of Canada to legalize single-event sports betting, Ifrah said: "We support the Government of Ontario in its call for Canada to end the gambling prohibition era and allow sports bettors access to the products they can safely enjoy."
iDEA Growth is comprised of North American and international businesses operating online interactive entertainment platforms.