Two Canadian Casino Giants Sign Ontario Online Gambling Deals With OLG

Written By Dave Briggs on July 14, 2023
OLG signs deal with Great Canadian, Gateway

Canada’s two biggest retail casino companies have made the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation their preferred Ontario online gambling affiliate partner.

Great Canadian Entertainment told PlayCanada in June that it had signed an affiliate deal with the OLG. Now comes word that Gateway Casinos has also signed a similar deal with the provincial lottery corporation.

A Gateway press release says its affiliate deal will see the casino promote OLG’s online gambling platform — including its online casino and Proline sportsbook — to Gateway customers in Ontario.

The deals are an extension of the partnership between the Canadian casino giants and the provincial lottery corporation. Combined, Great Canadian and Gateway operate 26 physical casinos in Ontario in partnership with the OLG, which oversees the retail casino sector.

Gateway has 14 casinos in Ontario. Great Canadian has 12 casinos in Canada’s most populous province, including the largest casino in Canada — the Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto located at Woodbine Racetrack.

Gateway promoting platform

As for online gambling, starting on July 10 Gateway’s Ontario casino customers received a link to the online gambling platform.

“The agreement with OLG is another way we are delivering excellent customer experiences,” said Gateway CEO Tony Santo in the release. “Our customers can enjoy the convenience of playing their favourite games or betting on the big game from the convenience of their phone or laptop. We will bring the action to them through to keep the fun going in between visits to a Gateway casino.”

OLG president and CEO Duncan Hannay hailed the deal as another way to “increase our contribution to the people and province of Ontario.” All profits from OLG activities are returned to the province.

OLG CEO hails casino deals as further benefit to the people of Ontario

The province’s legacy online gambling operator has fared well in competition, Hannay told the Canadian Gaming Summit in Toronto in June.

The launch of an open online gambling sector in Ontario in April 2022 has produced one of the largest online gambling markets in the world. There are now some 50 live gambling operators in Ontario offering more than 70 total gambling sites.

“And, frankly, the rise of competition has propelled us,” Hannay told the Summit in an opening address. “It allows you to create new compelling products and experiences to keep your customers engaged. And I might also be so bold as to say that OLG has surprised many in the industry by remaining a competitive force during this time.

“We’ve redefined our internal culture and focused on innovating, advancing our game on strategy across all of our lines of business. And we’re seeing the results. Last year was our strongest financial performance on record and with 100% of profits coming back into Ontario. That’s significant. We provide the dividends of over $2.5 billion to the province and over $1.2 billion in payments to Ontario First Nations, host municipalities or small business retail partners and many others. We now have over 1.6 million registered players on our digital platform. And we grew digital profits by over 30% to north of $300 million in our year ending March 31.”

Great Canadian’s deal with OLG part of slow, measured approach

Chuck Keeling is Great Canadian’s executive vice president of stakeholder engagement, community and social responsibility. He told PlayCanada that Great Canadian may one day decide to operate its own online gambling platform. But, for now, they believe partnering with the OLG is the best approach.

“We’re not in the iGaming space right now, but we’ve always supported iGaming and the concept of it,” Keeling said. “We are always trying to determine how we would enter the space ourselves. So, we’ve partnered with OLG and their digital platform and how we leverage our land-based audience to support that digital platform. But, conversely, it taps into the 1.6 million people that they have in their database, and how they can support… our properties, our promotions, our offers.

“For us, it made the most sense because we’ve partnered with OLG on the land-based business anyway, so this was kind of a logical extension for us to partner with them. We are early days in that partnership. But that’s another way that we’re going to try to grow the brand for our properties in Ontario.”

Keeling said it’s more than Ontario’s extremely crowded online gambling sector that gives Great Canadian pause.

“There’s a lot of noise in the data in terms of what this means for the land-based sector and what’s happening in the market,” Keeling said. “And a lot of the noise that I’m referring to is also coming out of COVID. Consumer habits changing in general because of COVID because we were closed for a year-and-a-half effectively. The impact of inflation, the impact of supply chain challenges, all of the external factors that we’re all aware of. So it’s very difficult to necessarily determine at this juncture what’s happening in the market.”

Gateway and Great Canadian operate 55 casinos in Canada

The two Canadian casino companies are a force in Canada.

Between them, Great Canadian and Gateway operate 55 brick-and-mortar gambling establishments nationwide.

Gateway operates 31 casinos from coast to coast:

  • 15 in British Columbia
  • 14 in Ontario
  • 3 in Alberta

Great Canadian has 24 casinos nationwide:

  • 12 in Ontario
  • 9 in British Columbia
  • 2 in Nova Scotia
  • 1 in New Brunswick
Photo by Shutterstock
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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Canada with emphasis on the casino, sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Canada and Michigan.

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