Ontario announced Wednesday the potential locations for its next 42 private cannabis stores.
The new stores, which are due to open across the province as soon as October, will bring the total number of bricks-and-mortar locations authorized to sell cannabis in Canada’s largest consumer market to 75 by the end of this year. Winners of the second lottery held by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) – the agency held a larger draw for the first 25 pot store permits in January – now have until Aug. 28 to formally submit their application, pay at least $6,000 in fees and provide a $50,000 letter of credit.
Winning entries were chosen by region, with 11 selected from western Ontario, seven from the eastern region, 13 from the City of Toronto, six from the Greater Toronto Area and one each from Sault Ste. Marie, Timmins, Kenora, Thunder Bay and North Bay. The right to apply for eight cannabis stores to be located on First Nations land were allocated by the AGCO on a first-come-first-serve basis earlier this month.
The first lottery led existing legal pot sellers to track down individual winners – most of whom had no prior experience in cannabis or retail – and launch multimillion-dollar bidding wars over the right to brand their stores. For the second draw, applicants had to prove they had access to a suitable retail space as well as at least $250,000 in working capital in order to qualify, whereas the first lottery required only $60 and Ontario residency.
Those added requirements reduced the total pool of applicants from over 17,000 in the first round to 4,864 in the draw on Aug. 20.
Given the number of licences up for grabs is also nearly double the first lottery, some established retailers have signed deals with lottery applicants in advance of the draw. Ahead of the second lottery, because of the additional requirements, many aspiring applicants found they were unable to get the financial documentation ahead of the Aug. 8 deadline to submit an expression of interest.