ELORA – Mayor Kelly Linton volunteered to do a delegation at the 2022 Good Roads Association Conference (OGRA) in April to lobby against the provincial government’s taxation policy for new provincial internet gaming (iGaming) sites that are set to launch soon.
At Thursday’s economic development virtual committee meeting, Jessica Dunbar, general manager of Elements Casino Grand River, spoke as a delegate to seek support from the committee to lobby the taxation regulations for iGaming sites.
“The Ford government will be opening iGaming in all sectors on April 4. Obviously, coming from a gaming facility we support iGaming and we understand there’s a business within that,” said Dunbar.
“However, the way the government has released it is what we’re trying to raise awareness on. To give you an overview, we’re concerned that the government is not fully considering consequences and it could be cannibalized. We don’t want them to rush this. We want to make this right.”
In July 2021, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) established iGaming Ontario as a subsidiary. iGaming is an online regulated gaming and gambling platform that manages online gaming in the province through private gaming operators.
Elements casino in Elora is concerned with the unlimited number of online casinos the framework will allow and the kind of taxation they have. Dunbar noted that Centre Wellington will lose revenue when online gambling sites launches.
“Most jurisdictions have tied online gambling to land-based facilities; we have different regulations and standards that we have from a municipality perspective and that partnership we have will be different with iGaming,” said Dunbar.
“iGaming will not be tethered to any municipality or land-based gaming, so the regulations and taxing are different. Land-based casinos in Ontario are taxed 55 per cent of net gambling proceeds to the province and local municipalities. iGaming sites will only be taxed 20 per cent.”
According to Dunbar, the casino could see a 30 per cent revenue loss due to the online gaming sites.
Township CAO Dan Wilson noted that the 30 per cent reduction in OLG funds has an impact on Centre Wellington and the township’s projects.
“The township pre-COVID was receiving anywhere from $2.4 to $2.7 million in OLG funds per year. Obviously, this has dipped in the last two years due to COVID. So, a 30 per cent reduction would be somewhere in the $700,000 to $800,000 reduction in OLG funds to the township every year,” explained Wilson.
The OLG policy in the township, Mayor Kelly Linton informed the committee, funds many projects for Centre Wellington: 88 per cent of the funds go to infrastructure projects, five per cent goes to fund arts, culture and heritage projects, while the remaining go to economic development.
Linton recommended the committee to put a motion directing Linton to do a delegation on the matter at the 2022 Good Roads Association Conference (OGRA) in April. OGRA is a conference led by industry leaders with presentations and discussions on the municipal transportation and infrastructure sector.
“This is the best we can do. I’ll work with Dan and we’ll make sure we ask for a delegation on this because this is important. I’ll talk to the right ministers so they know how much we depend on OLG funds to rebuild our infrastructure and to drive economic development,” said Linton.
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