The Canadian iGaming market has seen considerable evolution over the course of 2022. Within the past 12 months, two provinces, Nova Scotia and Ontario, have shifted from Canada’s traditional stance of prohibition on online gambling by opening the door to licensed online casinos.
Granted, said door has only been opened a crack in Nova Scotia. Here, the online casino is state operated and can only be accessed via the Atlantic Lottery website. It was opened to so little fanfare, that only a few industry insiders even noticed at first. Ontario, however, has gone all in. Over the first six months, around two dozen operators came forward and obtained licences for more than 40 online casino and sports betting brands.
Ruthless competition for market share
To keep to the gambling theme, it’s safe to say that Ontarians have also gone all in, wagering about $10 billion in the first six months of operations. The industry is absolutely booming, something that few business sectors can claim in these difficult times. Unsurprisingly, the operators are almost tripping over each other trying to make the most of Canada’s latest craze of online gambling in Canada for real money stakes by offering the most tempting discounts, bonuses and other promotional incentives for real money gaming.
Casino bonuses cause concern in certain circles, and some jurisdictions, such as Lithuania, have completely banned casino bonuses, categorizing them as a “promotional activity” like TV advertising. The problem with taking such a hard-line stance is it can return the market to square one. No deposit bonuses and matched bonuses and free spins are so commonplace, they are an expectation. If Canadian licensed casinos were prohibited from offering them, the majority of players would probably head straight to an offshore casino that is licensed in Curacao or Malta and that will offer the sort of promos that casino goers expect.
Who will be next?
Across the border in the USA, it has been intriguing to see the domino effect of how sports betting has spread from one state to the next. When lawmakers see that all prohibition does is incentivise residents to jump in their cars, drive across the state line and spend their tax dollars there instead, it proves to be a compelling driver for change.
Now it’s true that the Canadian online casino market does not have the likes of Jerry Jones or Draftkings lobbying for it in the corridors of power. However, any Canadian province needs only to look at the numbers coming out of Ontario to see the potential. Also keep in mind that whether the legalise or not, people will continue to visit offshore providers, so banning their use in Quebec or British Columbia.
As things stand, BC has one state-run betting site called PlayNow. Quebec has land-based casinos only, but two thirds of residents say they gamble at least occasionally. Reading between the lines, both are markets that make significant use of offshore providers, and lawmakers will be under increasing pressure over the coming months to follow Ontario’s lead.