Faites Vos Jeux: The State of Online Casinos in Canada Today

The Canadian online casino market is an interesting one, to say the least. In theory, it is a state monopoly, with the provinces' own lottery corporations being the only companies allowed to provide locals with online casino and poker services - this in spite the biggest online poker brand in the world, PokerStars, has its headquarters in Toronto. On the other, the federal legislation in the country is pretty permissive both with offshore operators and local gamblers, which leads to many of them flocking to international casinos. But things are complicated even further by the lack of availability of local alternatives to international operators: only Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, and Manitoba have local online casinos for their players. With such a lack of local options, it is understandable that players are seeking out international operators to take care of their online gambling needs.

But things might get even more complicated in the future. If you have been following the latest casino news you are likely familiar with Bill 74, a legal initiative that would block access to any unlicensed international online gambling operator for Canadian players. The bill would allow the country's finance minister to order ISPs to block access to certain websites, making it impossible for local players to play the games of their choice.

For the four provinces where local online casinos exist, this wouldn't be such a major issue - even if the operators available locally have a far more limited game variety, and offer fewer player benefits than their offshore counterparts, they at least exist. But there are many provinces where there is no sign of a local online gambling operation to be even planned for the foreseeable future. The players who are currently spending their money at offshore operators would be left with it unspent. And this means that provinces will be missing out on a potential source of revenue.

How much revenue, you might ask? Well, quite a lot, we must say. For the fiscal year that ended on March 21st, 2017, Loto Quebec's EspaceJeux reported revenues worth CAD85.9 million, growing almost 30% compared to last year. BCLC's PlayNow was even more profitable: its revenues exceeded CAD155 million in the same timeframe. Since provincial lottery corporations are not-for-profit operations, all this money flows into the state's budget.

Blocking the players' access to international gaming operations makes sense only if there are local alternatives where they can spend their money - and in most Canadian provinces, this is not the case right now. Such a measure could push the players toward a more "underground" gambling market, with little to no customer protection, and still leave the provinces' budgets without a large amount year after year.


Mathieu Blake

Mathieu Blake - Internet Entrepreneur, loves technology, sports, the Montreal Canadiens, Poker, Poker chips, current events and travel. You will often find him Writing about different topics that interest him on websites and blogs. To submit an article, contact the website directly.