Words by Mark Dawson. Mark is a contributing editor at TheCasinoHeat.ca, a new gambling portal in Canada. Mark has been writing about the online casino and sportsbook industries in the UK and Europe for over a decade and now regularly writes for affiliate sites in North America too. In this article he discusses the opportunities for affiliates provided by Canada’s grey market
For some time now marketeers in the UK have been planning for life after a new Gambling Act and the potentially seismic impact new regulation may have on the world’s most lucrative online gambling market. Whilst most have been focusing their attention on the United States where state by state, huge new sports and fixed odds markets are opening their doors, others are choosing not to overlook the potential of the US’ northern neighbours in Canada.
The ten provinces of Canada have long been seen as an important grey market for the industry.
Here, privately-run gambling businesses can legally take bets whilst based in offshore locations like Malta, or the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake in Quebec which itself is an independent gambling jurisdiction Canadian’s are familiar with. In fact, privately run casinos have been successfully competing with the state-licensed fixed odds gaming sites like the British Columbia Lottery Corporation’s (BLGC) PlayNow.com many years, thanks to superior game lobbies and marketing and CRM strategies honed in some of Europe’s most saturated and competitive markets.
The recently launched guide to real money casinos, TheCasinoHeat.ca, shows how brands familiar to anyone who works in the industry this side of the Atlantic are establishing a presence across Canada too. Names like Casumo and Play OJO, who enjoyed significant success in the UK and other European markets are now spending both on online and TV advertising to raise their profiles. And with some success as they tap into a market of dedicated gamblers.
In fact, whilst Canada’s population of 37 million, just over half of the size of the UK’s despite its vastly bigger land mass, may not have been subject to the same levels of pervasive gambling advertising over the last two decades, it nevertheless includes enthusiastic gamblers who are passionate about jackpot slots, live tables and sportsbook too.
So, at this time the Canadian market represents a good opportunity for affiliates and operators. But what about the future? Will Canada eventually be subject to the same regulations as Europe? And surely it’s law-makers are thinking about the potential tax revenue’s that might be gained from the Gross Gaming Yield accrued by offshore firms.
It seems that regulation of some kind is on the horizon, though it may take some years for new laws to be enacted. The first steps were taken by the Ontario government, led by Doug Ford, who published plans in their November 2020 budget to establish a licensed market for private betting firms regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The push for regulation has been given impetus by the Coronavirus pandemic which has created a need to raise public funds urgently.
This news is the beginning of a long process however, and Ontario is just one of ten provinces that will have to create new legislation to legalise private firms and tax their profits in some way. At the same time, organisations like the BCLG and the AGCO are said to be concerned about the impact of legalised competition on their own revenues. In short, the path to a fully-licensed white market is unlikely to be an easy one and will take a few years or more to complete.
It looks like for the time being at least, it will be business as usual for casino operators and affiliates enjoying the spoils of the Canadian grey gambling market.
Following the UK’s December 2020 release of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, SiGMA Group will move its February event to April. SiGMA Europe, which will be based in Malta, will now run from 13-15 April, 2021.