As the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation basks in the aftermath of a strongest financial performance to date, CEO Duncan Hannay took to the stage at the Canadian Gaming Summit to stress the importance of recognising and strengthening indigenous relationships.

In a far reaching, albeit brief, opening address to the early morning bustle of space that had people piling out of the door, Hannay welcomed those in attendance to the latest staging of the event and “home of the 2024 Stanley Cup champions”.

Introduced onto the stage by “a great advocate and representative of this industry” in Paul Burns, Canadian Gaming Association CEO, the OLG Chief began with an acknowledgment of unity during National Indigenous History Month.

“It’s a time to really learn more about the impacts of colonisation on First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, and to really honour their stories, their contributions and their significant strengths,” he explained.

“But when you look really beyond this month and throughout the year, I think we must all reflect on the importance of our industry to indigenous communities here in Ontario and beyond, and recognising that strengthening these relationships with those communities is really vital to our industry success.”

“…OLG has surprised many in the industry by remaining competitive force”

This, he said, is something that brings deep commitment on a personal and team-wide level, with honour and excitement at building such relationships touched upon.

To this end, encouragement was offered to the room to consider how they could help drive “new pathways of understanding and respect”, with the OLG finalising a reconciliation strategy that is charged with guide work alongside indigenous communities to “advance the principles of truth and reconciliation”.

Driving forward, acknowledgement was given for “surviving and in many cases thriving” over a difficult few years, a time that continued to witness a seemingly never ending wave of changes at an “unprecedented rate”

“I really applaud everyone here for embracing this change and redefining and really reimagining gaming in the Ontario market and beyond,” Hannay noted.

As we sit a little over one year into the open gaming market, that landmark date of April 4, 2022, saw the OLG go from being the sole entity across the vast space, to simply being one of close to 50.

However, this simply served to spur the group on to create “new competitive products and experiences,” with Hannay confidently stating that “I might also be so bold as to say that OLG has surprised many in the industry by remaining a competitive force”.

“Markets across North America are really following our lead, and our world class gaming model”

“During this time, we’ve redefined our internal culture and focused on innovating and advancing our game on strategy across all of our lines of business. And we’re seeing the results,” he said. 

Following a “strongest financial performance on record,” a dividend of over C$2.5bn was issued to the province and over C$1.2bn was made in payments to Ontario First Nations.

In addition, the OLG now counts more than 1.6 million registered players on its digital platform, with these profits up by over 30 per cent to north of $300m in the year ending March 31, 2023.

As Hannay aligned part of the success to “striving to be the very best business and community partner we can be,” he moved on to look at the array of alliances enjoyed, as well as impending developments to accelerate the Ontario market’s momentum further still.

“Frankly, we just couldn’t do what we do without our partners. So our success is their success and vice versa,” he commented. 

“And as Ontario and OLG has embraced this change, we’ve improved consumer choice and responsible gambling protections, we’ve brought greater benefits to Ontarians. 

“Markets across North America are really following our lead and our world class gaming model. A model that is supported by a world class regulatory compliance regime.”

“We can be exemplars of responsible gaming, and create long term sustainability for the communities we care about”

Pride was also recognised at work being undertaken alongside partners and industry stakeholders, with Great Canadian Entertainment’s $1bn Woodbine casino development that is due to open next week, Hard Rock’s $350m capital investment in Ottawa and digital gaming platform provider Bede Gaming that is “helping us compete in the newly open the market” each cited.

“I will close by saying that it’s a very exciting time for OLG, for our partners and for gaming across Canada,” Hannay concluded. 

“There is a tremendous amount of opportunity ahead, and that’s why this summit is so very, very important. And together as partners, we can move our industry forward. 

“We can be exemplars of responsible gaming, and create long term sustainability for the communities we care about, including those indigenous communities to whom we should be highly, highly committed.”