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Rebuilding Post-Pandemic Ontario Must Include Gambling Reform


May 28, 2021

OTTAWA, ON – As Ontario gradually moves toward a post-pandemic period, the province will need to find ways to renew and rebuild both economically and socially. This is especially important for low-income families, given how hard the pandemic has hit them relative to other Ontarians. Turning Aces into Assets, a new report from think tank Cardus, recommends the Ontario government improve the post-pandemic prospects of low-income families by reforming Ontario’s gambling monopoly operated by Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG). Right now, OLG operations work like a regressive tax, taking 2.5 times more from the lowest-income families than from the wealthiest ones, as a proportion of income. Meanwhile, up to 24 percent of Ontario’s gambling revenue comes from problem gamblers. In other words, OLG disproportionately depends on the province’s lowest-income families and problem gamblers to help fund government operations. Turning Aces into Assets outlines four distinct ways to turn gambling into a tool to help low-income families while reducing OLG’s reliance on problem gamblers:

  • Creating a new Gaming Equality Benefit to return gambling profits to low-income families
  • Using gambling profits to match low-income families’ deposits to designated savings accounts
  • Offering prize-linked savings accounts, funded through gambling profits
  • Redirecting OLG’s marketing budget toward research, prevention, and treatment of problem gambling

“Planning for Ontario’s post-pandemic future is the perfect opportunity to reform a gambling system that has worked against low-income families for decades,” says Johanna Lewis, a Turning Aces into Assets co-author. “No government should be funding its operations through a system that disproportionately depends on low-income families and problem gamblers for its revenues.”

Turning Aces into Assets is freely available online.

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