iGO: Ontario gambling contributes $1.5bn in first year


An announcement from iGaming Ontario lit up the first full day of the Canadian Gaming Summit yesterday, after the group revealed that gambling’s economic impact in the region stood at C$1.54bn.

Compiled by Deloitte, the report took a closer analysis of the gambling industry’s impact on the province’s local economy, revealing that the industry has created almost 12,000 jobs for Ontario residents, with around C$900m of the billion dollar figure coming in the form of wages. 

While these statistics shine a positive light on the impact of gambling in Canada, the report suggested that those numbers are set to become more impressive, publishing ten-year projections for Ontario’s gambling ecosystem. 

Reacting to the figures as he opened a panel session focused on innovation at the Summit, Canadian Gaming Association CEO, Paul Burns, commented: “It’s having a real impact on the Canadian and Ontario economies. And we have a broad spectrum of operators but also suppliers that have joined this market.” 

Exceeding average salaries

Elsewhere in the report, the average wages for workers in the gaming sector came out at C$103,000. Impressively, this figure stands around C$30,000 more than the average Ontarian’s wage. 

These statistics represent the standard of gaming jobs offered in the province, which includes several STEM-related positions for product development, fraud prevention and other tech-centred fields. 

This falls in line with the provincial government’s position on STEM opportunities, which it has placed much emphasis on, particularly with women and indigenous people. 

Burns touched on this notion on the Summit panel, explaining: “One of the things that the Deloitte report talked about in this building upon some of the infrastructure Ontario had. The human capital, being able to leverage partnerships with other high value-add sectors, the tech innovation that’s already going on here, and obviously, being able to create the marketplace in the first place.”

Generating $700m for government

The gambling industry produced C$761m in revenue for its first year of operations. Although another impressive figure, the report’s projections estimate that this revenue could reach $2.2bn within the next ten years. 

In regards to money flowing into the government, the industry generated C$700m for the Canadian government from paid dividends, as well as providing substantial contributions to the region’s GDP. 

While some have suggested that 46 operators is too crowded for the market and consolidation is on the horizon, Burns noted in his comments that this report suggests there is room for many to succeed, and that is by design.

With 46 operators navigating the province’s gambling sector, many suggested the area could be too crowded to thrive as a market and avoid consolidation. However, Burns noted that due to evidence in the report, Ontario has all the more room for many companies to succeed. 

“Today’s report reveals that the newly regulated igaming market in Ontario is delivering real benefits to every resident of Ontario, whether they play or not,” said Dave Forestell, Chair of iGaming Ontario. “The igaming industry is a real economic driver in Ontario. Together, we can help realise our goal of leading the world’s best gaming market right here at home.”

“Over the past year, Ontario’s igaming market has been internationally recognised for creating a safe, legal, and competitive landscape while supporting the province’s economy and displacing the existing unregulated market,” added Attorney General Doug Downey

“By driving innovation, creating exciting new opportunities for workers, and providing protection and choice for players, this made-in-Ontario market will remain a global leader in this sector.”

Taking a local approach

The operators represented on the panel along with Burns echoed how vital having boots on the ground in Ontario has been for their success and also lauded the province for its talent pool.

Representatives from Operators sitting alongside Burns on the CGS panel stated their desires for Ontario to maintain a local approach, suggesting that influencing the gaming space from within Ontario itself has been vital for their success. 

Highlighting the desire for this local approach, Amanda Brewer, Manager of Kindred’s Canadian operations, stated: “You cannot compare the Ontario experience to anything you see in Europe and you cannot compare it to anything you see south of the border. 

“Ontario is a very unique market. How gaming is conducted and managed, which are two words that don’t exist anywhere else in the world, is very unique to Canada.”

Meanwhile, the panel also heralded the talent pool at hand in the province, with BetMGM Canada CEO, Scott Woodgate, explaining: “We felt a very strong need to put staff here. We have a Toronto office. We rely on our tech through our ownership via Entain and obviously, with the MGM side of our business.”

“A strong part of that omnichannel perspective already existed in Canada. So, from our perspective, it was a strong need. We do have a staff of AML, customer service, and creative across pretty much every vertical and we’re very thankful for the fact that we did that right away because I think we’d be behind the eight ball if we didn’t.”