Casino gaming in Canada, and specifically in the province of Ontario, has been a hot topic over the past year. In recent times, and especially since the events of 2020, Canadians have been wagering tens of billions per year at online casino sites. This was despite Canada having no legal online casinos – so all that money, equating to around $17 billion in casino revenue, was being sent overseas.
Last April, Ontario became the first Canadian province to launch a regulatory system for online casinos. By the end of 2022, Ontarians had used them to place more than $10 billion in wagers, a number that expected to double in 2023. It’s a good news story for Ontario’s economy, and a victory for common sense. You can read more about the online casinos available in Canada at onlinecasino.com.
All of this does raise one question, though. With more than 40 online casino brands suddenly licensed and accessible on any Ontarian’s laptop or smartphone, would Burnaby-based Gateway Casinos and Entertainment rue its timing in choosing 2021 to invest $41 billion in a new land-based casino at Ontario’s North Bay?
About the North Bay Cascades
The start was less than auspicious. The Cascades Casino originally slated to throw open its doors in the summer of 2020. That, of course, was postponed by wider circumstances and when the casino finally opened with a soft launch last March; it was not the high profile event that had been envisaged. It was literally a matter of days later than Ontario launched its online gambling initiative.
Nevertheless, the Cascades opened fully and without restriction a month after its soft launch. The casino boasts 300 slot games, six live tables and 10 virtual tables. It has also created 200 jobs.
Beyond their wildest dreams
Fears that the tables would idle proved groundless; as the Cascades welcomed visitor numbers that a Gateway spokesman said “exceeded our wildest dreams”. After less than a month of trading, the City of North Bay received a payment of $111,000; its share in the revenue generated. Further payments will made quarterly.
Al McDonald, the Mayor of North Bay could barely conceal his astonishment, and told local press “I was surprised it was that much after just 23 days.” He also commented that local support for the casino was overwhelming, and he had not received a single negative email, letter or call about it.
Its often assumed that online and land based casinos are in competition with one another; but industry insiders have long suspected that this is not the case. The ease with which online platforms can accessed prompts many who would not visit a land based facility to give online casino games a try. On finding they enjoy the games, they then feel inspired to try them out in a real casino setting.
Far from being competition, it is actually synergy in action. It is also all good news for Ontario’s economy in these challenging times.