Toronto has access to many, if not all types of legalized gaming and gambling.
The provincial government under the crown corporation called the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, or more commonly referred to as the OLG controls gambling in the city of Toronto.
The OLG is responsible for Ontarioâ€™s lotteries, commercial casinos, aboriginal casinos, charity casinos, bingo centers, and the slot machines available at horse racing tracks. The OLG promotes responsible gambling and fair gaming in Ontario. OLG generates $3.8 billion annually in economic activity in Ontario.
Because the gaming industry is government controlled, this money is used for distribution into local and provincial charities, payments to the municipalities housing OLG gaming facilities, and into gambling addiction and education. The OLG also has a toll-free gambling helpline for Ontario residents.
Casino gambling in the downtown Toronto core is very limited. Torontoâ€™s commercial casinos can actually be found outside the Toronto area, but they attract GTA residents and tourists alike.
Such casinos include Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls and Casino Rama in Orillia. They are noted for their size, decor, amenities, overnight accommodations, food and beverage, and live entertainment. They are often referred to as resort casinos due to these characteristics.
Charity and aboriginal casinos can also be found outside of Toronto. For example, the Great Blue Heron Casino on Scugog Island outside of Toronto near Port Perry is owned by the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nations, where revenues are distributed amongst the various gaming bands partnered in the operation of the casino, as well as to various charities.
The OLG manages all slot machines. Jackpot lotteries accessible for people of Toronto include the brands such as LottoMax, Super 7, Pro-Line, and 6/49. The legal age to purchase a lottery ticket in Toronto and in the province of Ontario is 18; however admittance into a casino is 19 due to the availability of alcohol on the premises.
As of January 28, 2008 all lottery tickets in Ontario must be signed by the customer before a retailer can validate them to claim any cash prizes. Signing tickets helps in identifying them and can be traced back to the customer if ever lost and containing winning numbers. OLG retailers are found all across Toronto and the rest of the province. These are often kiosks and convenience stores where individuals can purchase lottery drawing and instant scratch tickets.
Horse racing is not controlled by the OLG. Woodbine Racetrack located in the North West end of Toronto is owned by Woodbine Entertainment Group and is a state-of-the-art facility boasting live Thoroughbred racing, slots, and dining.
Woodbine Racetrack is the only live gambling facility in the city of Toronto. Locals and tourists who seek table gambling must travel at least an hour outside of the city either to the north or southwest to Casino Rama or Fallsview Casino.
Mohawk Racetrack is also operated by Woodbine Entertainment Group and is located outside of Toronto in Campbellville Ontario. It features harness racing. Revenue from these tracks is sometimes used to increase horse racing purses.
While both racetracks in and outside of Toronto offer on-premise betting, there are a handful of bar/entertainment establishments in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area that offer betting and wagering and give out pay-outs for bets based on race results.
Forms of illegal gambling in Toronto and the rest of the province of Ontario goes directly into an individualâ€™s pocket or into a private business or establishment not under the jurisdiction of the OLG. While this can include gambling such as private card games in homes, it is not as easily as enforced and is frowned upon. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have an illegal gambling unit that monitors illegal gambling in Ontario, since this form of gambling can often be linked to organized crime.
Torontonians and other Ontarians have access to unregulated online gaming and gambling. Yet it has been announced as of August 2010 that the OLG plans to branch out over the next two years by offering online gambling sites directly controlled by the OLG for Ontario players, while maintaining its mission and ethics of player protection, secure transactions, and an online responsible gaming program. This initiative was recently announced by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in an effort to further stimulate the Ontario economy.