Ontario Unions Uncertain About New iGaming Market

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Labour Unions. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The commencement of the new iGaming market in Ontario has been a point of concern for local unions who worry about its impact on land-based casinos.   

There’s excitement in the air, with punters across Ontario waiting with bated breath for the implementation of the new iGaming regime in the province on 4 April. However, not everyone has been so excited, with local unions worried that the upcoming digitalisation will hurt the land-based casinos in the province, such as Caesars Casino Windsor.

According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the new market will officially launch next month. However, a recent independent study suggested that the expected online expansion could be costly for brick-and-mortar casinos, with estimates as high as 25 per cent of current jobs being at stake due to increased online offerings.

Concerns Raised About Ontario iGaming

Research suggests that Caesars Windsor could shed up to 100 of its current 500+ positions because of the new market reality. An assistant to Unifor’s national president, Chris MacDonald, said the union expects significant job loss and an uneven playing field once the new iGaming market launches this spring. This is despite the current uncertainty about the number of providers that would be licensed.

In addition to the labour union, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce president, Rocco Rossi, expressed his concerns about the new iGaming setup. In a letter to Ontario Attorney-General, Doug Downey, Rossi indicated that the new market could significantly slash the revenue and employment that local communities rely on.

Previously, Rossi urged the local government to try and minimise job losses by introducing iGaming in a manner that would secure more jobs in the industry. Additionally, he called for a competitive tax rate for operators who wish to partake in the market, which would align with the one currently imposed on land-based casinos.

Last week, local legislature member, Percy Hatfield, called on the government to ensure no jobs will be lost once the new iGaming market launches. In Hatfield’s opinion, the local government needs to ensure that casino staff are protected, and laid-off workers are returned to work. This would also prevent the loss of gaming revenue used to support local education and health care projects.