Torstar, the owner of numerous media outlets including Toronto Star, has announced it intends to enter the online gaming market.
The corporation announced earlier this month it is aiming to launch an online casino betting brand in 2021, pending approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
“As an Ontario-based media business and trusted brand for more than 128 years, we believe Torstar will provide a unique and responsible gaming brand that creates new jobs, offers growth for the Ontario economy, and generates new tax revenue to help support important programs in our province,” said Corey Goodman, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Torstar, in a statement.
Right now, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is the only operator approved to offer online gambling in Ontario. But the provincial government has promised to open up the market to private operators in its most recent budget, enacting legislation that gives the AGCO the authority to issue licences to private companies.
The company cited government data that shows Ontarians spend about $500 million a year on online gambling. The vast majority of that goes to grey market websites based outside Canada, where there is less legal and regulatory scrutiny, and the revenue does little to stimulate the Ontario economy.
“We want to ensure the new marketplace is well represented with a Canadian, Ontario-based gaming brand so that more of our players’ entertainment dollars stay in our province,” said Paul Rivett, Chair and co-owner of Torstar. “Doing this as part of Torstar will help support the growth and expansion of quality community-based journalism.”
In a press release, Torstar announced it has assembled an “iGaming team” to head its expansion into the market. The team includes Gil Steinfeld, a marketing strategist for several U.S.-based gaming operators; Don Bourgeois, former General Counsel for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario; and Jim Warren, president of Riseley Strategies Inc., a Toronto-based business consulting firm.
Rivett said the gaming site will include casino games and sports betting.
“We want to offer online gaming in a reasonable and responsible way,” he said. “It’s something that, if done responsibly, allows people to partake in their form of recreation and entertainment without making bad decisions.”.