Canada’s online casino belt

The United States has its bible and rust belts, Australia has the wheat belt, Africa the bean belt and India the Hindi belt.

Now Canada has the online casino belt.

It’s not quite fitted just yet.  There are a couple more notches to be added but it does look very much like every one of Canada’s US-bordering provinces from East to West will have government operated online casinos within the next few years.  One is already up, a couple more are fait accomplis and the rest are going through the research, consideration and PR spin mode that seems to proceed finally going ahead with a politically contentious undertaking like net gaming.

The belt is closing…

British Columbia was the first domino to fall with the launch last month of the BCLC run PlayNow online casino.

The Ontario government declared their hand soon after with concrete plans announced by Ontario Lottery and Gaming chairman Paul Godfrey to get an online casino up and running by 2012.

Quebec has been quietly beavering away and will launch a service initially offering online poker and sports betting as early as September this year!  According to Loto-Québec CEO Alain Cousineau, their product will offer locals an alternative to operators that are, “illegal, unregulated and often of doubtful integrity.” He went on to tell CBC Canada that, “This is a way for us to channel the gaming offering in a controlled circuit and environment whose integrity will be beyond reproach.”

Not wanting to miss out on the party the smaller provinces have indicated they will likely follow suite…

Saskatchewan‘s Minister for Gaming, Ken Cheveldayoff told CBC his government was “very interested” in entering the online gambling space following Ontario’s announcement. It is something they are, “cautiously looking at” he said.

Alberta‘s government has, “definitely been researching and monitoring online gaming for a number of years.”  So says Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission spokesperson Lynn Hutchings-Mah.  She also noted that traditional gaming revenues in the province had declined 15% since the GFC took hold so additional sources would be welcomed.

Manitoba has been mulling the online gambling question since April.  Back then Minister for Lotteries Steve Ashton told Global Winnipeg :

“We’re looking at it. No decision has been made yet, but I anticipate a decision sometime over the next few months,”

This may not sound overly conclusive, but when you consider what’s transpired since April you’d forgive Manitoba for getting swept up in the stampede mentality that seems to have gripped their neighboring provinces.

Canada's online casino belt

Why the sudden change of policy?

The online casino industry isn’t new.  It’s actually deep into its second decade so you’d be forgiven for wondering why, after 15 or 16 years Canadian governments have all of a sudden, with the unison of a Beach Boys harmony, become so hot on net gambling?

The answer lies in one word, or rather acronym…GFC.

Nothing moderates the political moral compass more than a bit of fiscal pain.

8 replies
  1. dennis
    dennis says:

    Hope they all do a better job with their launch than BC. Security breach within days of launch and then a site that’s down for weeks doesn’t exactly inspire confidence!

    Reply
    • LD
      LD says:

      Hi dennis
      Thanks for dropping by. Yes the problems BC had with PlayNow were unfortunate but I see the site’s up and running now (for the time being anyway) so BCLC will be relieved.

      I had a chuckle when I read this on their ABOUT US page…

      “BCLC’s Commitment to Protect You

      BCLC understands how important information security and privacy are to you and we are committed to helping you keep your PlayNow.com experience secure and private. We use state-of-the-art technology and follow numerous security procedures to protect information contained in your PlayNow.com account.”

      Hopefully their state of the art technology is an improvement on what they were using when they first launched!

      Reply
  2. laura
    laura says:

    Canada doesn’t need to become the online gambling capital of the world and it will be a great shame if it does. I don’t understand why gambling is always seen as the solution to economic hardship. What is created? What is gained? It’s just a redistribution of wealth from those who can’t afford to lose to those with millions anyway. Can anyone explain to me how is this good for the economy?

    Reply
    • LD
      LD says:

      Hi Laura

      I’m no Alan Greenspan but I think the theory is additional spend (regardless on what it is on) generates an expansion in money supply and stimulates trickle down businesses and economic activity generally. History has shown this to be the case time and time again.

      Of course this is purely an economic solution and your moral objections remain valid.

      I assume you’re not a gambler. Are you from Canada?
      cheers
      LD

      Reply
      • laura
        laura says:

        I am a gambler actually although a very modest one. I just don’t think we need so many governemnt run internet casinos. And yes I am from Toronto

        Reply
        • LD
          LD says:

          For what it’s worth Newfoundland are categorically against following the above provinces and it’ll be a while before Ontario and the others get anything up. Still time for public opinion or a change in financial fortunes to derail current plans.
          cheers
          LD

          Reply
  3. Greg
    Greg says:

    What’s the big deal. As it is Canadians can choose from 1000+ offshore online casinos so how is the addition of half a dozen local casinos going to change playing habits? The government casinos will be better than the big offshore operators. Actually they will probably offer much less in terms if game range bet choices etc etc so its not like any new wow factor will be introduced to Canadian online gamblers.
    As for security etc – like Ladbrokes or Bwin are going to go bust and/or steal your deposit?

    Won’t change a thing in my opinion

    Reply
  4. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    I think there is no need to get our hopes up. There are still many online casinos that are very open to Canadian markets. Take for example windowscasino
    They have been up and kicking since 1998, and as far as I know. they are still very much into Canada

    Reply

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