Like the rest of Canada, the growth of gambling in Ontario was gradual. During the majority of the 20th century, only bingo and parimutuel betting on horse races were available in the province, restricting residents’ betting choices.
In 1975, with the enactment of the Ontario Lottery Corporation Act, this started to alter. This legislation authorized the state to conduct lottery draws, which it did later that year with the Wintario jackpot game. In the years since then, the structure of the lottery has been altered many times: in 1999, for example, the original statute was repealed and replaced by the Ontario Lottery and Gambling Corporation Act, which established the present business that oversees almost all gaming in the province.
Currently, the Corporation is referred to as OLG.
While it still offers a variety of lottery games, including access to major national jackpots like Lotto 6/49 and Lotto Max, as well as a few sports betting games, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is also responsible for overseeing the other aspects of the province’s gaming industry, most notably the proliferation of casinos in the region over the past two decades.
In the early 1990s, the concept of introducing full-scale casino gambling to the province started to gain traction. At the time, the plan was extremely controversial, with many arguing that instead of flooding Ontario with a massive new revenue stream, it would instead take money from those who could least afford to lose it, while also attracting crime and causing social problems due to an increase in problem gambling.
While the first site, Casino Windsor, opened in 1993, these debates have continued unabated, as has the growth of the business. Currently, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation owns and operates 10 casinos around the province (others are operated privately, by companies like Caesars Entertainment and Penn National). These and other components of Ontario’s gaming sector now generate annual net earnings of almost $2 billion.
Surprisingly, the most accessible resort casino in Ottawa may not even be in the province. This distinction certainly belongs to the Casino du Lac-Leamy in neighboring Gatineau, Quebec. With over 1,800 slot machines and 64 table games, as well as the facilities of a big resort, this is a really spectacular gaming establishment. It is located outside the provincial boundary, but is just a 10-minute drive from Ottawa, and is well worth the detour.
As a result of a comparable increase of their products, several horse racing courses are operational across the province. As in many other regions of the globe, many racetracks have evolved into “racinos” that provide slot machines and other electronic gambling alternatives in addition to their racing calendar. The OLG, which has a presence at 14 tracks around Ontario, normally operates these games.
Included in this figure is the Rideau Carleton Raceway in Ottawa, which started selling slot machines in 2000. Now known as the Rideau Carleton Entertainment Centre, it features both bingo and slots in addition to live racing. However, this arrangement was threatened in recent years, as the government at one point appeared set to remove slots from tracks, a move that could have effectively ended the industry, given the loss of subsidies that helped keep racing profitable for tracks. On the plus side for Rideau Carleton, the provincial government did let racing to resume on Thursdays after temporarily confining races to Sundays exclusively, a move that many authorities predicted would render the racing operations unprofitable.
OLG Operates Online Site
In recent years, the Ontario Lottery and Gambling Corporation’s influence over gaming has grown beyond the real world and into the Internet. There are now possibilities for gamers in Ottawa and the rest of Ontario to play their favorite online casino games on provincially licensed sites.
Although other provinces may have adopted the practice earlier, it was inevitable that the OLG will develop their own lottery-backed gaming website. This occurred in the early days of 2015, when PlayOLG.com was founded in an effort to keep money from Internet gamblers in local government coffers, as opposed to having it flow to foreign sites that allowed Canadian players.