As just the 11th-largest city in Canada, London is sometimes overlooked in certain areas, often in the shadow of bigger Ontario burgs such as Ottawa, Hamilton, even Kitchener -- not to mention Toronto.
A similar assessment may be made of gambling in London, Ontario. Though Ontario province is home to 29 casinos (as of this writing), London boasts just one just gaming venue -- and it's what the Americans might call a "racino" except ... more on this forthwith.
The Ontario and Lottery Gaming (OLG) Corporation is certainly well-known – or at least the three-letter acronym – to any Ontarian who have had any experience with any sort of gambling in the province. Since its establishment in 1976, OLG has expanded its scope from overseeing lotteries and bingo gaming to online casino management and even taking on the stated goal to help “build the foundation for a more sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario.”
In the 21st century in North America, such a mission has typically been addressed with the installment of slot machines, video poker, electronic games and even casino table games. Such has been the tack taken by OLG since the late 1990s, and the “OLG Slots” brand has been extended to London’s racing venue, the Western Fair Raceway.
In 2015, a tweak in branding morphed the name of London’s slot parlor from “OLG Slots at Western Fair Raceway” to “OLG Slots at Western Fair District.” Whether to emphasize the historicity of the casino’s location or to avoid confusion of those reckoning that the in-house casino would be closed when racing season is off, the name change is … well, it is what it is, as they say.
Among the dozen or so casino outlets under the OLG Slots or Gateway brand names, we may consider the Western Fair District’s casino as medium-sized. About 750 slot machines and video poker games are up for the playing, with a few dozen electronic games featuring blackjack, roulette, keno, Texas Hold ‘em and the occasional oddity.
If you’re looking for something outside of London, you’ll have to start driving. The nearest casinos to London are – you guessed it – also operated by the OLG. These are the OLG Slots outlet at Woodstock Raceway (about 54 kilometres’ drive from London) and the Gateway Casino Clinton (about 74 km).; the former carries about 500 slot machines and other games, while the Clinton casino provides about 400 plus quite a few electronic table games in one of Canada’s more proportionately impressive collections of such.
You’re not a real city in North America or the U.k. unless you have at least two competing bingo halls – and London has ‘em. To scratch the bingo itch in London, try Forest City Bingo Country and Lucky Days Bingo. Both are open seven days a week and often several prizes regularly typically in the $1,000 to $3,000 range.
Have we mentioned the stranglehold OLG has on gambling in Ontario in general? The same applies (somewhat) to internet gambling in the province.
In January 2015, OLG launched the “Play OLG” website in the model of Canadian provinces in the 10s. Naturally, the more popular Play Now brand was eschewed so that the government could more directly run things.
Prior to the launch, OLG figures estimated the amount of money spent by Ontarians on so-called “grey market” casino and gambling websites was as high as $500 million, therefore implying that Londoners had been wagering approximately $14 million annually. Like most areas of the world that ultimately decriminalize online gambling, Ontario put laws in place to allow legal gambling and thus collect on heretofore unreported tax revenue.
However, the Play OLG website, at least in terms of the casino games, has gotten mixed reviews at best. And those “grey market” online casinos are all still out there, offering better welcome bonuses, loyalty rewards and payout percentages.
Any threat regarding players visiting other gambling-related websites is mostly baseless as well: The truth is that simply no Canadian citizen has ever been arrested – or even formally charged – with playing at a casino website. Even with the “internet casino café” busts of the 1990s, only owners and operators faced penalties for the activity.
So we’d advise to see for yourself, and then return here to enjoy Canadian casinos with a bit more freedom of choice for Londoners looking to enjoy some gaming online…