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This article was published 10/8/2010 (3360 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
TORONTO — Ontario is going to cash in on Internet gambling.
Finance Minister Dwight Duncan said Tuesday the province will offer online gambling in 2012.
Government officials say that within five years the province could rake in about $100 million a year from online gambling. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. estimates that Canadians spend nearly $1 billion a year at a unregulated gambling sites and want a piece of the action. Ontario's cash-strapped government is eager to find new revenue streams to eliminate its massive deficit and fund expensive promises ahead of the 2011 election.
British Columbia recently launched its online betting operations and Quebec is expected to follow suit. The U.S. is expected to end its four-year ban on Internet gambling this fall.
Manitoba is also eyeing online gaming, as an alternative to the more than 2,000 unregulated Internet gaming sites already in existence and used by Canadians every day. According to the Quebec government, online gambling revenues from Canadians grew by an average of 30 per cent between 2003 and 2008 and could exceed $1 billion in 2011.
Steve Ashton, Manitoba's minister responsible for lotteries, said in April a decision was expected in a few months.
"We are not going to rush into any decisions," a spokesman said Tuesday.
"Manitoba Lotteries will continue to research, monitor and work with other provinces to look at the best strategies to protect consumers, and to ensure that we are doing the right thing for everyone."
Opposition Leader Hugh McFadyen has said by going into online gaming, the government would be giving its stamp of approval to an activity of which many disapprove.
"It doesn't matter what happens in other provinces," he said. "We think it's the wrong way for this government to be going."
A provincially operated Internet gaming site would have age restriction and verification measures.
— The Canadian Press / staff