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Unions and chambers concerned about implications of legalizing internet gambling in Ontario

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With Internet gambling legalized and launched in Ontario just weeks away, pressure from business and labor leaders on the provincial government continues to ensure land-based casino jobs and revenue are protected. such as Caesars Windsor.


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The stakes remain high for the local casino and others across Ontario, as indicated by a recent study by an independent consultant which showed that up to 25% of casino gaming jobs could eventually be lost. once Internet gambling will be legalized from April 4th.

At Caesars Windsor, the study’s estimate was that up to 100 of 500 gambling-related jobs at the casino could be lost.

“We’re looking at significant job losses and an unfair playing field,” said Chris MacDonald, assistant to Unifor national president Jerry Dias and the union’s gaming file manager.

“It is still unclear how many (online) casino gaming companies will be launched, but it will have a significant impact on current operations, union jobs and revenues.”

Online gaming has only existed under the Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG) umbrella for a few years, but the provincial government has approved opening up the industry to the private sector.


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Dozens of global companies that offer online sports betting, slot games, bingo or poker offerings will be able to obtain an online gaming license from the new iGaming Ontario (iGO) and for the first times open for business legally.

The government is taking action to get a share of the billions of gambling dollars that Canadians otherwise spend online in the “grey market,” where accounts are opened in the United States or overseas to place sports bets, gamble poker or any number of games at sites such as Draft Kings, Betway or Jackpot City.

The change in legislation allows these businesses to operate legally in Ontario for the first time.

Alongside Unifor, Ontario Chamber of Commerce President Rocco Rossi raised concerns about iGaming in a letter to Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey, which noted that “Ontario’s approach could come at the expense of the current incomes and sources of employment that our communities depend on”.


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Critics’ main concern is how the government intends to only charge a 20% “tax” on all revenue from every online gambling business, while land-based casinos in Ontario must hand over 50% of revenue to government.

Rossi called on the government to “minimize local job losses” and introduce iGaming in a way that will increase jobs in the gaming sector. He called for a “competitive tax rate” for gaming companies that “is fair to land-based casinos”.

“Ontario is not the first jurisdiction in North America to legalize iGaming,” Rossi said in his letter. “Every US state that has introduced iGaming has done so in coordination with existing land-based casinos.”

Local MPP Percy Hatfield (NDP—Windsor-Tecumseh) last Thursday called during Question Period for the government to guarantee there would be no job or revenue losses due to iGaming .


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“In a good year, we have about 10,000 people working in the gaming industry in Ontario,” Hatfield said. “COVID-19 has left half of Niagara Falls casino workers out of work, in Woodbine there are still 500 laid-off casino workers and we have a thousand still unemployed in Windsor.”

As iGaming moves forward, Hatfield said the government needs to ensure gaming workers are protected, laid-off workers can return to work, and the province doesn’t lose current casino gaming revenue that helps fund services such as education and health care.

Unifor alone represents 12,000 workers at land-based casinos, including those in Windsor, so MacDonald said it’s crucial the government adjusts its plan for iGaming and considers pushing back the start date to allow for changes.

“We’re trying to get people’s attention to this,” he said. “(The plan) should be adjusted to make bricks and mortar (casinos) more competitive. We would like to see the start date changed and a commitment from Finance (Ministry) to look into this more closely than they have to date.


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