The Canadian province of Ontario has scrapped plans to privatize its state-run lottery business.
In a statement issued on Friday, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) announced that it had cancelled its request for proposals (RFP) for private operators interested in taking over management of its lottery operations, which generated sales of C$3.8b (US $2.9b) in fiscal 2015-16.
Ontario’s ruling Liberal government had issued the RFP in 2014, which generated bids from established gaming companies such as GTECH (now IGT) and Scientific Games, as well as telecom giant Rogers Communications and the cash-rich Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (which already owns UK National Lottery operator Camelot).
On Friday, OLG said that following a period of due diligence and consultation, it had determined that “the selection of a single service provider would not provide sufficient value for the province.”
That said, OLG says it’s committed to its “modernization” of its portfolio of gaming options, although its approach to updating its lottery operations is “evolving.” OLG now says it will “seek to enhance our capabilities in technology and innovations through partnerships with the private sector.”
The Liberals are running a massive budget deficit and the lottery sell-off was widely presumed to be a quick method of closing that fiscal gap. But polls showed Ontarians were adamantly opposed to selling off the single largest non-tax contributor to government revenue for the sake of a short-term gain.
In addition to its lottery, horseracing and casino operations, Ontario is one of four Canadian provinces – along with British Columbia, Manitoba and Quebec – to have launched a full-spectrum online gambling site (PlayOLG.ca).