September 26, 2022

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Online gambling in Canada; what’s to know?

Eighth Largest Spend in the World

Canada has over 19.3 million active online gamblers. For a country with just over 38 million population, that is a sizable demographic. In fact, Canada is ranked eighth on a list of countries with the highest online gambling spending in the world. With Canadians spending more than $4 billion at offshore gambling sites every year, it is no wonder that the provincial governments are now setting up legal frameworks for their citizens. A regulated market offers more protection to the gambler and valuable revenue to state coffers through taxation and license fees. According to a report by the Canadian Gaming Industry, over $16 billion is spent by players in local casinos.

Different Laws in Different Provinces

Each Canadian province has its own laws regarding online gambling, but online casinos in Canada are generally legal. Each state has its own gambling authority and issues online casino licenses. There have to be special agreements in place bets can be placed on games that cross provincial borders. Canadians can play at offshore casinos, which do not need a license to operate within the country. However, it is illegal for offshore casinos to advertise or market their services to Canadian players.

In 2021 Canada’s gambling industry earned $2.64 billion in revenue, with $1.2 billion coming from online gambling. Most provinces take advantage of the lucrative igaming market, including Quebec and British Colombia, which both run their own state-owned platforms.

iGaming Legalized in Ontario

On the 4th of April 2022, Ontario became the latest state to open its legalized state gambling market. iGaming Ontario, a subsidiary of the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission, AGCO, authorized sixteen platforms in its first licensing round.  These went to Annexio (LottoGo), BetMGM, Coolbet, FanDuel, Fitzdares, bet365, LeoVegas, WSOP, Ontario Lottery and Gaming, PointsBet, Rivalry, Royal Panda, Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers Ontario), the Score, Unibet and 888.

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There had been much controversy in the province as it was claimed that online casinos would negatively impact the land-based market. However, those in favor argued that it just closed down the ‘gray market’ that citizens of Ontario had already been playing at. They said a regulated market ensures maximum player protection and lets the province have a share of the revenue via taxation. The Government of Ontario has recently announced that it earned $162 million in gaming revenue during this year’s second quarter; the gamble seems to have paid off for them.

Ontario players must be at least 19 years old and physically located inside the province’s border. The state earns 20% of the gross gaming revenue. The AGCO banned iGaming firms from advertising any inducements, credits, or bonuses outside of their own platforms. In Ontario, land-based companies like the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation have been raising objections as they say they are at a competitive disadvantage with online casinos. Bricks and mortar casinos are taxed at 55% of GGR.

Saskatchewan is Close to Offering Online Gambling

In June this year, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority signed a deal with the British Colombia Lottery Corporation to develop an online gaming site for residents of the province. The BCLC can provide a turnkey online gaming portal as they already offer commercial gambling on their PlayNow.com portal. Now this will be customized for the Saskatchewan market.

Who Gambles in Canada?

Other than saying more than half the adult population, there are some other interesting statistics about the Canadian gambling demographic. Online gamblers are forty-three percent female and fifty-six percent male. Female gamblers prefer mobile devices to access online casinos and sports betting sites. Fifty-five percent of women gamble via their smartphone or tablet, which is expected to increase. Most gamblers in Canada are in the thirty to fifty age bracket. Older gamblers prefer bingo and lotteries, with younger players enjoying fast-paced table games, sports betting, and online slots.

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Which Games are Most Popular?

Canadians love to bet on sports; online sports betting accounts for the largest gambling spend in the country. The sports that attract the highest value and volume of bets are football, hockey, basketball, and tennis. Men are most likely to place a wager on a sports event, while women prefer luck-based games. During the pandemic, more and more people tried online gambling and found the sites were easy to access and fun to play at. Revenues from land-based casinos had been declining over recent years. In Alberta, land-based casino revenues had fallen twenty-four percent from 2018 to 2019. The shutdowns in 2020 due to the pandemic did not help. However, online casinos seem to attract a different audience.

Alberta was one of the first provinces to launch online casinos to increase declining revenues, which helped fuel the trend seen across the country now. The most popular online casino games include slots, poke, and roulette. However, it was not just the pandemic that helped fuel the growth in online casinos. The variety of games on offer, better internet access, and increased penetration of smartphone ownership are also significant factors.

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

There are now over two thousand online casinos accessible for Canadian players. The government only imposes taxes on the operators; players get to keep one hundred percent of their winnings.

What Next for Industry?

There has been a shift in the way in which online sites are promoting themselves. Many provinces are now enacting legislation to help protect players from gambling harms. The platforms are working with the legislators and providing players with tips on how to play safely. Many sites now have gaming tools, self-exclusion rules, and maximum deposit limits. The UK has long been seen as a pioneer in how to get the balance between regulation and a good gaming experience right. There is due to be a long-awaited review of the 2005 Gambling Act in the country. Changes here will almost certainly ripple out to newer markets. The UK has recently banned the use of credit cards at online casinos and also insists on manual age verification. These stricter rules could soon be applied to the Canadian market.

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New Opportunities

Many online casinos now offer live dealer games which allow players to interact with other players and real-life dealers. In addition, many new studios are opening up offering this facility, so this is expected to be a growth area.

We said Canadians like to bet on sports, and the latest massive opportunity here is for eSports betting. eSports have become incredibly popular in Canada, and this is now becoming a mainstream opportunity on which to place a wager.

What’s to know about online gambling in Canada? What’s to know is that it is here to stay and will continue to be assimilated into the collective culture over the coming years.