Ontario is loosening its restrictions on buying lottery tickets and online gambling in a bid to cash in on the multimillion-dollar industry.

By the end of this year Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. will allow residents to purchase lottery tickets online, CTV's Queen's Park bureau chief Paul Bliss reported on Monday.

And it also expects to allow gamblers to place their bets from their iPhones, BlackBerrys or computers by this time next year.

This is all part of the OLG's bid to reap the windfall from the burgeoning industry.

OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti said online gambling is worth about $500 million in Ontario but all that money goes offshore.

With very little experience in online gambling, the agency recently sent out requests for proposals for help in setting up and running online games such as video poker and video slots, as well as the lottery ticket sales.

The province examined how online gaming works and the problems encountered in British Columbia, Quebec and some European countries to make sure it gets it right the first time. B.C. launched its online casino PlayNow.com in mid-2010 but was forced to re-work it after it was compromised.

Ontario's casinos take in about $3.3 billion every year, while lotteries and bingos net another $3.3 billion. Some $2 billion of that total goes into the province's coffers.

More than a year ago, Ontario officials estimated the province will make about $100 million per year within five years of startup.