Industry Reports

Ontario Gambling Expansion Conflict of Interest Stirs the Pot at a Fundraiser

Ontario is on the verge of major changes when it comes to its gambling field and expansion is eyed by the Progressive Conservative government. Barry O’Brien’s special fundraising event took place last Friday at Toronto’s Albany Club and Ontario Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy was also supposed to attend it which could have stirred the conversation in a gambling direction.

Just before the event start, it became clear that the Minister is not going to attend the event and speak in support of gambling expansion.

The province is preparing for major changes in its gambling field that could take place thanks to the so-called ‘party budget’ as the opposition refers to it. It is going to see a removal of the existing online gambling monopoly of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the introduction of new brands. Supporters of this move have already spoken about the positive projections related to it.

More Online Gaming Offerings Coming to Ontario

Mr. Bethlenfalvy was among the supporters of this special fundraising event that took place in Toronto’s Albany Club. Barry O’Brien is a Conservative candidate for the Etobicoke-Lakeshore riding and this congregation aimed to raise funds.

Every ticket for participation cost some CA$500 with the ultimate goal to convince the provincial cabinet minister that gambling expansion is necessary. Treasury Board President Bethlenfalvy had already prepared to be the main speaker talking about the pros and cons of a gaming expansion and more online offerings down the road.

As the event start was approaching it became clear that this is not going to happen. He has the influence to propel action in the open online gaming direction and make sure that Ontario’s gambling field is modernized. It should be taken into account that when lobbyists’ attendance of events featuring officials never goes unnoticed and in the past such instances have been frowned upon. Troy Ross, gambling lobbyist was putting efforts into attracting as many people as possible, as he represents overseas online gambling companies.

Conflict of Interest Caused Change of Plans

A connection between Mr. Ross and Mr. O’Brien was announced by the gaming lobbyist himself while he was inviting prominent people in the gaming industry to make their way to the event. He is also supposed to lobby Mr. Bethlenfalvy’s office on the subject of online gaming expansion. Such relationships may be considered controversial, but no direct accusations have been publicly issued.

Communications Adviser Sherri Haigh pointed out that the fundraising event follows closely the regulations and procedures for organizing such events and all mandatory steps have been taken into account. The Liberals under former premier Kathleen Wynne had issued an official ban on provincial ministers, MPPs and senior political staff to make their way and speak at political fundraisers.

At the end of the day, it became clear that Peter Bethlenfalvy is not going to make it to the fundraising event after all. The 2019 budget highlighted by the provincial government aims to see more online gaming companies, as well as an alcohol liberation at casino venues. This, in turn, could make the players experience a more pleasant one, as well as a longer one. At the moment some CA$110 million goes to offshore gaming operators, a figure that ought to remain within the borders of the country.