Torstar is eyeing online betting

The expected opening of the online gaming market may carry media and sponsorship opportunities to support the company's mission.
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Torstar is getting into online gaming, which it believes will, in part, help provide opportunities to support the growth and quality of journalism in Ontario.

The media organization announced today its intent to launch an online casino betting brand scheduled in 2021 in the regulated Ontario online gaming market. The Ontario government has said it plans to introduce legislation to open online gaming up to operators outside of the OLG, with licensed operators overseen by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

“We get a lot of inquiries from gambling sites outside Canada who are interested in reaching our audience, but we will work with the AGCO, and await their guidance on when that market will open up,” Michael Beckerman, chief client officer at Torstar, tells Media in Canada, referring to potential media and sponsorship opportunities.

“It is an exciting time and getting any players to play legally and outside the grey market will be a better user experience, and better for generating tax dollars.”

As far as why gaming, Paul Rivett, chair and co-owner of Torstar points to two reasons in the release. “First, we want to ensure the new marketplace is well represented with a Canadian, Ontario-based gaming brand so that more of our players’ entertainment dollars stay in our province. Second, doing this as part of Torstar will help support the growth and expansion of quality community-based journalism.”

According to Beckerman, Torstar has put together a team of “subject matter experts in the gaming space to help develop a strategy.”

Specifically, today’s release refers to key hires in the organization’s new iGaming division to navigate the regulatory and application process, including gaming industry veteran Gil Steinfeld, Don Bourgeois, former General Counsel for the AGCO, and Jim Warren, who reportedly has 25 years of experience in politics and the gaming and lottery industry.

Both the application and the subsequent launch date are pending approval from the AGCO, which oversees the relationship between the government and private iGaming operators.