According to the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, Torstar Corp., which is owned by investment company Nordstar, is venturing into online gaming to help fund its journalism. Torstar also owns the Hamilton Spectator and other newspapers in addition to the Toronto Star.
The CBC reported that since its founding in 1892, the Toronto Star has focused in part “on advancing progressive causes, such as worker protections, civil liberties, and other social justice issues.”
The company’s owners said that online gambling will be helpful in financing these journalistic efforts,
Paul Rivett,co-owner, said that Doing this as part of Torstar will help support the growth and expansion of quality, community-based journalism,”
According to Torstar, government data reveals Ontario residents spend $500 million a year on online gambling on websites outside Canada.
Rivett said that “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.”
According to a gaming industry consultant, it’s unclear how much revenue the online casino would bring in.
Consultant Jim Warren told the Canadian Press that “We don’t know how big the market is going to be in Ontario yet, because it will depend on the consultation process within government, which is about to happen in the next couple of months,”
Only the Ontario government, according to the CBC, has the authority to conduct online gambling. Companies will be allowed to join later this year, according to the province. Torstar’s online effort requires approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
The company’s move into online gaming has raised concerns among those who question the newspapers’ ability to remain objective.
Tom Muench, a public official in Richmond Hill, Ont., told CBC News that he wonders if the Torstar chain is financially tied to outside business in order to stay afloat. Richmond Hill is located approximately 35 minutes north of Toronto.
He told CBC News that ”I think it’s fair to say that if a casino was to pop up in communities, say, six months ago, many local Torstar-owned papers would write a concerned local story,”
He asked that “If the federal government propped up the media with government tax dollars and now with casinos, how do we assure a strong independent news and media industry?”
The Toronto Star and other news organizations have covered gambling and organized crime in Canada. Mafia involvement in vice rackets, such as illegal gaming, has been included in this coverage. In Canada, Casino.org also covers these issues.
Ernest Hemingway’s work was included in the Toronto Star’s crime coverage in earlier years. After returning from Italy, where he was wounded during World War I, Hemingway became a reporter at the Toronto Star.
He had been a reporter at the Kanas City Star for about six months before going to the war as a teen Red Cross ambulance driver. Hemingway covered crime for both newspapers, including in Toronto, bootleggers smuggling illegal liquor into the US.
Hemingway later worked as a European correspondent for the Toronto Star while living in Paris. He did this while working on fiction that would earn him international acclaim in his mid-20s. He later won the Nobel Prize in Literature.