Good growth has been posted in Ontario, Canada’s largest province. However, it still lags behind its two rivals.
The latest report from the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG) provincial gambling monopoly is now some three months’ overdue. Nonetheless, we have a consolidated financial statement for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.
Now we know that the digital revenue from the PlayOLG online gambling site totaled C$139m but was then reduced to C$124m (US$97.1m) after deducting lottery prizes. As a comparison, OLG reported digital revenue of C$92m in 2018-19.
It comes down to how the accounting is done of course. Shifting online lottery sales from the “lottery” column to “digital” mean that the reported revenue has been revised to C$102m in the latest financial statement. Thus, PlayOLG’s 2019-20 revenue represents a year-on-year improvement of 21.5%.
Despite an impressive gain PlayOLG is behind Espace-jeux, the online gambling site of the Loto-Quebec provincial monopoly. Its reported revenue is C$135.9m. It is not clear why PlayOLG’s can’t catch up given that Ontario has a population of 14.8m residents compared to 8.6m for Quebec.
Ontario has an even longer way to go to bear down on the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, reporting a record C$179m in revenue from PlayNow.com, Canada’s original government-run site. Of note, BC has slightly more than 5m residents.
Will Ontario eventually match either rival before the province opens up its online market to private operators? It could be years, however, to reach an openly competitive market, and questions are being raised about Ontario’s regulatory structure for the upcoming hybrid public-private regime.