Move by 2012 could ultimately generate some C$100 million a year in revenue for government

Ontario will join British Columbia and other Canadian jurisdictions by cashing in on Internet gambling.

Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan announced that the province plans to implement Web gambling by 2012, a move officials believe could ultimately generate about C$100 million a year in revenue for government.

“Across Canada and around the world, online commerce is part of our everyday lives and OLG is excited to start the consultation process for online gambling and growing its marketplace in the future,” Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. Chairman Paul Godfrey told the Globe and Mail.

It is estimated that Canadians spend nearly $1 billion a year at unregulated gambling sites.

British Columbia became the first jurisdiction in North America to offer legal, casino-style gaming online when it launched the revamped PlayNow.com site last month. Quebec is expected to follow suit. The Atlantic Lottery Corp.’s Web site, in operation for six years, has five interactive games.