Canadian mass media group Torstar Corporation has revealed its plan to support its journalistic efforts by launching a brand new online casino business.
The casino’s official launch is still pending approval after a consultation process to be conducted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Torstar is confident approval will be granted after the Ontario government legislation granting the AGCO the authority to manage and conduct the iGaming industry in the region.
According to the 2019-2020 Ontario budget, residents of the Canadian province spend more than $500-million per year on online gaming, with the vast majority of it heading offshore due to a lack of Canadian iGaming options.
There is no doubt that online gambling is on the rise in Canada. According to a Canadian Gaming Association report, it is the largest segment of the country’s entertainment industry that generates just $9-billion a year. This has seen many international brands such as Rizk and 888 Casino begin targeting Canadian players.
The size and growth of the Canadian iGaming sector are a direct result of the government’s decision to increase access and availability of legal local gaming options, so it makes complete sense for Torstar to try and get a piece of the action. Even if the group is exactly certain yet how much the new business will be worth it.
“We don’t know how big the market is going to be in Ontario yet because it will depend on the consultation process within the government, which is about to happen in the next couple of months,” said Jim Warrens, a gaming industry consultant hired by Torstar as an advisor.
“What we do know is that Torstar is looking at diversifying the revenue model of how we fund and pay for reporters, columnists, and editorial staff.”
Chairman and co-owner of Torstar Paul Rivett further explained the reasons for the company entering the iGaming market by indicating the need to ensure local companies are well represented in the Canadian online gaming space, as well as keeping entertainment dollars spent inside the province and using the extra income to help expand its journalism activities.
To help them build momentum in a new market, Torstar also announced the addition of gaming industry veteran Gil Steinfeld to its iGaming team, as well as former general counsel for the AGCM Don Bourgeois to handle compliance and oversee legal matters, and Jim Warren, an experienced senior executive, and entrepreneur that has worked in the gaming and lottery industries.
“As an Ontario-based media business and trusted brand for more than 128 years, we believe Torstar will provide a unique and responsible gaming brand that creates new jobs, offers growth for the Ontario economy, and generates new tax revenue to help support important programs in our province,” said Corey Goodman, chief corporate development officer at Torstar.
As it stands, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is the sole operator to be officially licensed to offer online gambling in Ontario, but that is expected to change drastically and soon due to the Ontario government’s promise to open the market up to private operators.
“We want to offer online gaming in a reasonable and responsible way. It’s something that, if done responsibly, allows people to partake in their form of recreation and entertainment without making bad decisions,” added Rivett.
The move forms part of a broader strategy to diversify and expand its offering. In January this year, the company partnered up with sports retailer Golf Town to purchase ScoreGolf Magazine, while they formed another partnership with online insurance provider Onlia.
It is no secret that traditional forms of media have been struggling and that media houses worldwide have been looking for ways to add new revenue streams to their business. If all goes to plan, Torstar certainly looks to be on to a winner.