Ontario is taking the first steps to allowing private sector operators to run online gambling sites in the province.

New legislation will create an entity under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to oversee the sector, according to a provincial official who asked not to be identified, citing government policies that prohibited them from speaking publicly. The province will continue consultations with the industry about the details before any expansion occurs, the official said.

The legislation is a move toward fulfilling a pledge Premier Doug Ford made in last year’s provincial budget to “establish a competitive market for online legal gambling.” Ontario currently allows gambling only on websites run by government-owned Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp.

Last year, the finance department estimated that most of the C$500 million (US$383 million) Ontario residents spend on gambling online flows to gray market websites.