After Ontario, will other provinces in Canada open up to third-party online operators?

Great illustration of Retro styled Business rivals gambling their financial futures on the big spinning Dice of Business Fortune hoping to win first place in the business world. Source: Depositphotos

The gambling and betting industry in Canada has undergone significant changes in just the last few years alone. The province of Ontario has been something of a trendsetter and front runner in this regard as Ontario has brought in new legislation which greatly changes how Ontario residents can gamble and place bets. 


As Ontario has found success in its gambling legislation, other provinces are starting to take note and reconsider their regulatory stance on gambling, betting and lotteries. But which province will be next to open up gambling to third-party operators? Keep reading to find out. 


Ontario’s new gambling legislation


Just last April, Ontario officially launched its own online gambling market. iGaming Ontario is the public agency that manages gambling and betting in the province and has begun regulating the industry and issuing licenses to operators and suppliers. 


This comes after the province released its final standards for online gambling and betting along with specific rules which online operators needed to implement in order to receive a license. These rules included things like a ban on auto-play for slot machine games along with a spin speed of at least 2.5 seconds for slots. 


A number of the biggest players in the international online casino industry have received licenses to begin operating in the province, and there are now many different Ontario online casinos for players to choose from. 


A few of the biggest companies now operating in Ontario include 888, FanDuel, Bet365, PointsBet, Rivalry, theScore and Rush Street Interactive. Game providers have also needed to obtain licenses and providers such as Play’n GO, High 5 Games and Inspired Entertainment have all been approved and licensed for providing games. 


Online gambling in Ontario has now taken off and has a place to grow from within Canada. As the industry has found a lot of success in Ontario so far, other provinces are starting to take note and reconsider whether online gambling could benefit their communities. 


Gambling in Alberta 


As every Canadian knows, the provincial lotteries and online gambling platforms are pretty much all that is available to prospective gamblers, with the exception of Ontario. However, the province of Alberta has been slowly and quietly taking steps to legalize online gambling over the last few years.


Since 2019, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis agency has been doing research and taking proposals with regards to whether it is time to open up the market to third-party operators. This is partially due to government reports which found that Albertans alone were spending around $358m annually on gambling sites that were unregulated and unprotected. 


This is clearly a missed opportunity for the province, because if Alberta had its own licensed and regulated online gambling industry, it could be collecting tax revenue from the millions of dollars spent every year. While Alberta still has not followed in Ontario’s footsteps by launching a more open, less monopolistic gambling industry, it is clear that this is something that Albertans want, and that the province is considering. 


British Columbia – too good to make a move? 


In British Columbia, gambling online is just as popular as everywhere else in Canada. However, there could be a small problem holding this province back from following Ontario’s lead – the BC official online casino is so good, that there is little pressure to introduce third parties into the industry. 


PlayNow is the BC online casino platform, which is regulated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). It features an impressive range of different games and game types for players to try. In fact, PlayNow is so popular and well-made that Manitoba and Saskatchewan have chosen BC’s PlayNow to serve as their provincial online gaming vendor. 


On top of that, the BCLC runs 34 casinos and community gaming centers across the province in 33 different communities. These include slot machines, casino and table games, all of which also have restaurants and event space. The province still has a monopoly over gambling and there are BC residents who prefer to use a VPN and gamble elsewhere, but otherwise, the BC model is incredibly effective and popular. 


The success of BC’s PlayNow suggests that a monopoly is likely to remain as long as it is popular because the state can enjoy all of the tax benefits without worrying about any third-party competition. The only thing which could potentially change this in the future could be rising consumer demand for other, newer games and platforms. 


This is entirely possible as many gamblers enjoy the novelty, fun and excitement of trying out different platforms, rather than sticking to one online casino forever. 


The global push towards legalizing gambling 


The Canadian provinces are not alone in their push to change gambling legislation. Over the past few years, there has been a global shift in how gambling, betting and online casinos are perceived, especially by state legislators. 


In the past, gambling was quite restricted across the US, Canada and many other places around the world. However, the rise of online gambling began to break through the barrier and resistance that many legislators had developed against the industry. As more and more people started to gamble online using VPNs, legislators realized that they were simply missing out on tax revenue by not changing their stance on gambling. 


The Covid-19 pandemic also helped to shift public perception. The pandemic hit the global economy incredibly hard, resulting in a recession that makes it even more difficult for local, provincial and national governments to fund important public infrastructure projects. 


This has led many government leaders and legislators to look for sources of funding and tax revenue elsewhere. Legalizing gambling and betting forms one novel and lucrative action plan which many different legislators have taken. As more and more governments have decided to rethink their stance on gambling, other legislators have taken note. 

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