Canadian Media Group to Enter iGaming and Sports Betting Market to Bankroll Journalism

  • Newspaper giant Torstar plans to roll out the new gaming brand in 2021
  • Ontario residents spent over $500m on online wagering last year
  • Torstar wants to ensure that local entertainment dollars stay in Ontario
  • New gaming brand expects to create jobs, lift the economy, and generate new tax revenue

 

Toronto Star building
Torstar Corp., which runs the Toronto Star, plans to launch an online casino and sports betting site in 2021 to help fund its journalism. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Torstar’s plan subject to AGCO approval

Canadian mass media company Torstar Corporation has announced it has plans to roll out an iGaming and sports betting site in 2021 subject to approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to help fund its journalism.

Toronto-based Torstar, which is owned by the private equity firm NordStar Capital, announced the news via its Toronto Star newspaper on March 1.

The 1892-established media giant Torstar’s digital and print brands include Canada’s largest daily newspaper, the Toronto Star, The Hamilton Spectator, and over 70 weekly community newspapers in Ontario. Canadian financial services company NordStar acquired Torstar in Q3 of 2020.

Chair and co-owner of Torstar Paul Rivett said the move would “help support the growth and expansion of quality community-based journalism.”

Torstar eying $500m+ per year market

According to November 2020 media reports, Ontario’s finance department estimated that the lion’s share of the $500m (US$375m) province residents spent on online wagering last year flowed to websites outside of Canada.

ensuring “more of our players’ entertainment dollars stay in [Ontario]” was a top priority

Rivett said ensuring “more of our players’ entertainment dollars stay in [Ontario]” was a top priority for Torstar’s planned entry into the regulated Canadian online gaming sector.

The Ontario government’s latest budget announced it would introduce legislation to empower the AGCO to conduct, manage, and regulate iGaming in the province. The legislation, which is now law, is awaiting proclamation and will allow licensed private operators to operate in a regulated online gaming market.

Torstar hopes to boost province’s prosperity

Torstar’s chief corporate development officer Corey Goodman said taking part in the province’s regulated gaming sector with a “unique and responsible […] made-in-Ontario” gaming brand was an exciting prospect.

In an official press release, Goodman added that his firm believed the new gaming brand would create new jobs, help boost the province’s economy, and generate “new tax revenue to help support important programs” in Ontario.

Alongside significant moves within the online gaming market in Ontario, a major change to the national sports betting landscape is also in the cards.

Less than two weeks ago, the Canadian parliament gave bill C-218 the green light, edging Canada ever closer to a legal single-event sports betting market. The bill, which revokes a portion of the country’s criminal code that outlaws betting on individual sporting events, sailed through the Commons with the backing of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The bill will now proceed to the Canadian Senate.