🇨🇦 Guide To Online Casinos in Canada
Did you know that the online gambling industry is poised to reach a total value of $127 billion by 2027? If you didn’t, we can’t really blame you.
Even as we’re venturing into the third decade of this century, many states, organizations, and politicians are still fighting hard to prevent people from enjoying their favorite activity. And despite these efforts, Canadian casinos are bigger than ever!
Not only are European companies competing with brand new gaming brands, but seasoned, offshore gambling behemoths are also throwing their hat into the ring by constantly upgrading their very own casino sites. Frankly, if you’ve decided to give online gambling a try just now, you’ve probably chosen the best possible time to do it. Congratulations!
As amazing as this activity can be, it’s important that you know what you’re doing. And that’s precisely what we’re here for.
In the following sections, you’ll get a crash course in what it takes to play at a Canadian online casino. We’ll cover all the basics, give you a plethora of useful tips, and, ultimately, show you how to use that knowledge to cash out, big time! Sounds good? If so, we hope you turn into a sponge and soak everything in. Good luck!
$CA Casinos We Recommend This Month
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❓ What Makes a Great Canadian Online Casino?
We’ve come a long time since every online casino in Canada mimicked one another. Back in the old days, everyone had the same games, the same crappy software, and the same lingering fear of scammers bringing the site down and stealing everyone’s information. Yes, this was our reality some 15 years ago. But things are much different now, all jokes aside.
Canadian casinos come in all shapes and sizes, with various game rosters, and designs, and playstyles targeting different types of players. However, despite the existence of different niches and preferences, they all have to share the same basic qualities.
Knowing these qualities is the first, and perhaps most important, step in having an amazing experience at an online casino. To ensure that, you have to know what to look for. So, what should a great US casino site have to offer? Well, a lot of things, but they absolutely must possess these characteristics:
Strong Track Record
Our readers often ask us ‘what is the most important quality a Canadian online casino should have?’ They’re often puzzled at how ‘easy’ the answer is – a spotless track record.
Yes, that’s right, it’s just good old reputation, nothing more, nothing less.
Fancy buzzwords, advanced security systems, futuristic UIs – all of this is great, but can also be totally worthless if the casino doesn’t handle its business the way it should be.
Consistency in fairness, legitimacy, and transparency is everything you should look for in Canada casinos.
Even though licensing is always crucial, offshore casinos exist in a perpetual wild west when it comes to obtaining a certificate.
Too many tax havens and regulatory bodies seek to attract casino operators with lax criteria, as a means of prying them to seeking a license in their region.
While site owners are ecstatic about such opportunities, these licenses are often not a good indicator of a casino’s trustworthiness.
Some jurisdictions are very reluctant to revoke a license even when the site is confirmed to be a scam. They do this out of desperation, and out of fear that other sites would jump ship and leave a dent in their home country’s economy.
That’s why you should always do research about the track records of any and all Canadian casinos that you’re interested in. Have the players experienced any unpleasantness while playing?
Were there any data breaches involving this casino? Did they scam anyone? Are they regularly audited by reputable third-party organizations? Was the operator involved in some scandals in the past?
These are all questions you need to ask if you want to play in a relaxed and safe manner. A quick Google search and reading players’ reviews should help you make a solid conclusion.
Do your due diligence and you’ll have nothing to worry about.
Fast KYC & Customer Support
Usually, you can get a good grasp of any online casino in Canada just by interacting with their customer support team. Players should always feel free to ask even the stupidest questions, without the fear of the casino’s employees treating them differently.
Every individual deserves the same treatment, whether they’re a casual player or a high-roller who spends tens of thousands of dollars on a monthly basis.
Therefore, if you see a Canadian online casino offering faster responses if you spend more money playing games on their website, they don’t deserve your time. It’s unethical to lure people in by presenting their basic rights as privileges.
The best Canadian casinos should have multiple channels on which you can communicate with them. This can include email, contact form, phone, and live chat. Social media pages are a plus, as they show a casino is active in the community and wants to communicate with its players.
Another thing a proper site should have is a safe, but still efficient Know Your Customer (KYC) system. A KYC is basically the process of the casino verifying your identity, usually by asking for a scan of your government-issued ID. This process is essential, as it prevents scammers, fraudsters, and criminals from getting involved in the online gambling industry.
However, just because the process is necessary, that doesn’t mean it should be slow. The best online casinos in Canada should attend to your documents quickly and verify your account so you can start playing ASAP.
Why should you wait for your money if you don’t have to? It’s as simple as that, believe it or not. It’s a player’s right to have quick access to their winnings if they wish to claim them.
How does this work, exactly? Well, not all payment methods have the same waiting times for withdrawals.
This is mostly dependent on the technology they’re based on. For instance, every bank transfer has to go through robust checks before it’s cleared.
That’s why it takes up to 5 business days for you to receive your withdrawal. On the other hand, PayPal and cryptocurrency withdrawals don’t have to be so tightly regulated, and often arrive instantly or after a short while.
In addition to the payment method-dependent waiting times, casinos also have to clear every withdrawal request and process it.
The best Canadian online casinos do so swiftly, all in an effort to give their players the smoothest experience possible.
Consult authentic player reviews to ensure that this is the case.
In order for any Canadian online casino to be taken seriously, they have to be licensed by a legitimate regulatory body.
For offshore casinos, this can get a bit tricky. Not every jurisdiction has the same rules, requirements, or verification processes.
Like we’ve said previously, some countries lure operators with low tax rates, almost nonexistent fees, and rather liberal background checks.
The most notable example of such an approach is Curacao. Everyone and their dog can obtain a license in this Caribbean country, as it prioritizes quantity over quality, as a means of boosting its economy.
Because of such cases, not all licenses are the same. The best Canadian casinos shouldn’t take shortcuts on the road to legitimacy.
By getting a license from a respectable gaming regulator, they are essentially showing players that they don’t mind spending more money or being more transparent.
While stronger credentials do involve higher fees and more scrutiny, they’re a clear sign that a casino is safe.
So, what should you look for? Well, Canadian online casinos that are registered by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission are considered to be the safest and most legitimate.
The Kahnawake Mohawk Territory in Quebec, Canada is one of the most respected jurisdictions when it comes to offshore casinos accepting US players. The same goes for the Costa Rican government.
If you see a casino that owns one (or both) of these licenses, you can rest assured that they’re safe and legal.
Fair RTPs On Games
Yup, sorry, we’re going to have to get a bit technical with this one. Don’t worry, it’s for your own good.
The more you know, the better you’ll be at spotting untrustworthy sites and ensuring that you’re playing your favorite games in a fair environment.
What is RTP, then? Well, RTP stands for Return To Player. It’s a metric that expresses the expected percentage of wagers that the player will win back in the long-run.
For instance, if a slot has a 97.5% RTP, it means that you will win 97.5% of your money back over time.
Basically, the higher the RTP, the fairer and more lucrative the game is.
RTP can be calculated both theoretically and through real-time simulations.
Theoretical calculations are performed by mathematicians, using the combination of special software and the data provided by the game’s creator/operator.
Simulations are also conducted by special programs, but they mimic the real-life conditions the players will experience.
How do you know if a casino has fair RTPs? Well, through several different ways. Firstly, their games should be regularly tested by third-party companies, such as Gaming Labs International (GLI).
These reports should be published on a regular basis, both by the company and the casino.
Another way to determine the fairness of RTPs at Canadian casinos is to compare the RTP from the report to the RTP posted by the company. If the numbers are the same, the game is fair and safe to play.
Always look at audit reports before playing a game, regardless if you’ve tried it before you not. Better safe than sorry, right?
Live Casino Games
Let’s be fair – any casino site can purchase titles from developers and fill their roster with them.
In reality, it’s not that expensive. After all, you see the same titles at many different casinos, so it’s probably the bare minimum.
By offering games by respected developers such as Evolution Gaming or Playtech, casinos allow their players to feel like they are actually on the Las Vegas Strip.
This is significantly more expensive than just buying RNG titles, but creates an atmosphere like no other.
You will get to watch real dealers throw the dice or hand out cards, while also having the ability to chat with other players and enjoy an interactive experience.
It’s something you just have to feel in order to know what we’re talking about.
Usually, investing this much into pleasing people is a sign that a casino is doing well financially. Also, it’s always great to see sites wanting to show their players what gaming is all about.
Bonuses & Promos
Canadian casinos often use bonuses and promotions to rewards players both new and old.
here’s nothing better than getting a reward for your loyalty or just for giving a new online casino in Canada a chance.
In the 2000s and 2010s, bonuses were mostly simple, boring, and only reserved for deposits via card or bank transfer.
Nowadays, you can get rewards in all sorts of ways, while using any casino banking method that you want. So, what can you expect from the best Canadian online casinos?
Also, you should expect to see new bonuses and promotions added regularly, especially when the casino is promoting a new game they’ve just added to their roster.
There should be deposit or no-deposit bonuses for new players, as a form of a welcome gift. Old players also need to be motivated via boosts, bigger payouts, and all sorts of perks.
When you’re looking for the best bonuses at Canadian casinos, make sure that they have don’t have an insane play-through rate.
A play-through rate or a wagering requirement is the number of times you have to bet that bonus in order to be able to claim it.
Casinos wouldn’t survive a day if they gave out free cash that could be withdrawn right away, would they? Of course not.
Also, read the terms and conditions of each bonus thoroughly to ensure that there aren’t any hidden rules or conditions.
Even though almost every Canadian has a bank account and a credit or debit card, they are far from the most ideal payment methods.
Not only do you have to wait for a long time to claim your winnings, but it’s so easy for your banking credentials to land in the hands of cybercriminals if a data breach occurs.
After all, this is sensitive information, right?
Certainly. That’s why more and more Canadian casinos are moving away from bank-centric deposit and withdrawal methods in favor of cryptocurrencies.
Based on blockchain technology, cryptos allow casino players to make anonymous payments and receive their money quite fast.
All transactions are stored in a public ledger, which is accessible to anyone. No transfer of funds can be tampered with, as they have to be verified by other users in order to be officially cleared.
Today, you can find many Bitcoin and Ethereum casinos.
Even less coveted cryptos such as Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Ripple are gaining a foothold in the online gaming industry.
If you see a casino accepting deposits in this manner, you can rest assured that they care about your safety.
Combine that with an efficient KYC system, and you have an ideal set of measures designed to combat nefarious activities, while still giving players the option to keep their info hidden whilst making transactions.
High Withdrawal Limits
While not everyone is a high-roller, everyone should have sufficient room to become a high-roller, if they wish to do so.
It all comes down to this, at least when we’re talking about withdrawal limits.
The very best online casinos in Canada understand that players might get insanely lucky at times.
If such a thing occurs, you should have the ability to withdraw all that money at once. It’s as simple as that.
A good casino shouldn’t limit its players. When you see low withdrawal limits, it’s almost always a strategy to entice players into gambling more of their money.
For instance, if you’ve just won $10,000 and the casino only allows you to withdraw $1,000 per day, you’re tempted to play some more while you wait to withdraw the rest.
It’s a rather unethical strategy that isn’t talked about enough. Even if you’re a casual player, you should feel comfortable playing at Canadian casinos with high withdrawal limits.
It’s a sign that the casino understands that players like to play in different ways, and allows them to feel at ease.
Localized Banking Methods
There’s nothing worse than coming across a great Canadian online casino, only to find out that they don’t accept deposits from your preferred banking method.
What should you do in such a situation? Is it worth switching banks or creating an account at a new eWallet? Of course not!
Players shouldn’t feel pressured to alter their online banking habits just because a gambling site is too lazy to cater to them.
Every quality online casino in Canada should have a clear understanding of how locals like to transfer money.
With that understanding in mind, they need to add banking methods that resonate with players and remove any need for creating new accounts or changing habits.
It’s nice to be able to deposit with a wide range of payment providers, such as PayPal, Canadian Express, MoneyGram, and others.
The wider the choice, the better the casino is at giving the people what they want. Canadian casinos that are successful at accomplishing this are more likely to be legitimate as well.
Some financial institutions are incredibly strict when it comes to collaborating with casino sites, so consider this as an additional seal of approval.
❓ How Online Casinos Compare Vs Land Based
If you’ve been playing at land-based casinos, and are unsure about what to expect, don’t worry!
Everyone goes through the initial shock, as every online casino in Canada is much different than its brick and mortar counterparts.
To help you make the transition more easily, we pitted these two types of gaming against one another.
Here’s how online casino compare against land-based establishments when it comes to the most essential features and characteristics:
Online RTPs On Slots
On average, online slots have RTPs that usually falls in the 94-98% range.
Anything below that is unfair and shouldn’t be considered, while anything higher is probably too good to be true.
It’s also widely known that online games have much better RTPs than their land-based versions.
This is the case because Canadian casinos are legally required to disclose the RTPs of their games.
Many gambling regulatory bodies also have their rules considering this matter, as they are only willing to give licenses to transparent casinos.
Also, game developers require all casino sites to offer their games in exactly the same way they’re made, without a single tweak. With land-based slots, this isn’t the case.
Land Based RTPs On Slots
One of the biggest problems with slots in Vegas and Atlantic City is that the same game can have a different RTP depending on the casino you’re in.
Even the best game provides don’t require each and every casino to conform to a single RTP.
All of this creates an atmosphere of confusion that often leads to players unknowingly relinquishing a lot of their money.
Almost always, land-based casinos don’t disclose the RTP of their slots.
They also resort to deceptive marketing, using slogans such as ‘PAYS UP TO 99%.’ Theoretically, their slots could have an RTP of 93% and it would still technically be true.
Usually, the higher the denomination that’s put into the slot machine, the higher the RTP.
Casinos like to reward risk-takers, so it makes sense to place $5 slot machines at a 95-97% RTP, while penny machines are basically a robbery at 88-90%.
Claiming a bonus at any Canadian online casino is a piece of cake. You just create an account, read the terms and conditions, follow the instructions, and enjoy your free money.
It’s also a widely-known fact that online casino bonuses are much more lucrative. This is because it’s harder to entice people to join when they’re online.
If you find yourself at a land-based casino, you are there to gamble anyway, and the establishment doesn’t need to use rewards to convince you to do so.
Online casinos offer many more options, including no-deposit bonuses, loyalty bonuses, free spins, bet boots, and so much more. Simply put, there are just more ways a player can be approached and rewarded.
Land Based Bonuses/Promos
There are situations when land-based casinos offer financial incentives for new players. This usually involves giving them your ID or passport, and getting a few extra chips or a voucher for free spins at the slots area.
However, these bonuses are much, much rares than online ones. If you’re playing at an online casino in Canada, the site has control over the wagering requirements. You simply cannot withdraw the money until you fulfill those requirements.
At land-based casinos, no one can control how many times did you bet your free chips. You can just make a U-turn, go to the Cashier, and cash out, right? Certainly. It’s simply not viable for brick and mortar establishments to offer bonuses.
Also, there’s no need. People don’t drive to Vegas and enter a casino to look around. Casino owners already know that you’re there to spend money and you don’t need to be encouraged by a bonus or two.
Online Table Games Offering
Here’s a situation where even the worst online casino in Canada is so much better than land-based ones. Game developers can design table games however they want.
They can alter the basic variants of poker, blackjack, and roulette and turn them into completely new games.
Technology makes everything possible, so online table games are an ideal choice if you want to experiment. With the growing popularity of live casino games, gambling online has become much more realistic.
You don’t have to drive to a land-based casino to chat with the dealer and other players. All you need is an internet connection and a bit of free time. It’s much more convenient, plus you can play games that simply don’t exist in reality.
Offline Table Games Offering
While nothing beats the feeling you get when you’re on the casino floor, it’s still a limited experience.
You can only play roulette in so many ways. You can only play blackjack in so many variations.
Land-based table games cannot award you gargantuan multipliers, they can’t be modified using our imagination.
In-person contact with other people is certainly invaluable, but it comes at a price.
Table games in brick and mortar casinos still have to respect the laws of physics and are, after all, dependent on the ideas and wishes of the casino’s owners.
Just like land-based casinos are limited due to the laws of physics, online casinos are limited due to technology and protocols.
Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to payments.
Instant deposits are a possibility, but only with a few eWallets and payment gateways. Withdrawals, on the other hand, can be a nightmare to claim.
On average, players at Canadian casinos have to wait 24-48 hours before they can claim their winnings. If you want to use that money for something else, you cannot do it immediately.
Payouts at Land Based
You win some chips. You walk 30 feet to the cashier. You turn those chips into money. That’s it!
Land-based casinos still reign supreme when it comes to claiming your winnings.
This system has become so easy and streamlined, it’s hard to argue against it.
Still, keeping your money in a secure online account is still much safer, but many players prefer convenience over a few extra layers of security.
With all this in mind, it makes sense to ask the question – which casinos provide a better gaming experience, online ones or land-based ones?
Well, for starters, it’s impossible to choose a clear winner, as it’s mostly down to preference. Some people like to play online slots at Canadian casinos for just half an hour every other day, while others like to save up and go on a gambling spree in Vegas each month. It all depends on what you want and what suits you.
Obviously, online casinos have so much going for them. You can enjoy lucrative bonuses, games that are impossible in reality, higher RTPs, more security, etc. However, they still have their own distinctive flaws. Winnings have to be waited for and the social element of the whole experience is less pronounced.
As annoying as these disadvantages are, they are far less of a nuisance than those involving land-based casinos. Bonuses are nonexistent, you can’t stay anonymous, RTPs are all over the place, and so on.
Our verdict is that online casinos are a more versatile and sustainable option. So, we would tentatively say that they are better in many ways. Then again, this is just our option.
But don’t be mistaken – nothing will ever bet the thrill of a fun night in Vegas or Atlantic City. Land-based casinos will always be a thing!
Why Listen To Us?
This is the part where we flex our knowledge and credentials so that you believe us, right? Wrong!
While our team is comprised of experts in the fields of finance, IT, mathematics, marketing, and we have several decades of professional experience in the gaming industry, we are players, first and foremost.
Despite all our expertise, we love playing casino games. It’s just a passion! This website is made for gamblers, by gamblers. Our goal is not to get all technical and overanalyze.
No, we’re just players that happened to have embarked on a quest to find casinos and gambling solutions that will suit their fellow players.
The Addition of IGCouncil
However, we just did a merger with what was formerly called IGCouncil and that led to us adding a more longevity focused outlook on the entire industry.
IGCouncil are a group of gambling industry veterans that have come together and, with the help of some of the greatest companies in iGaming, are working hard towards ensuring the prosperity and integrity of our industry in a sustainable way.
We don’t believe that companies within the iGaming business should view each other as cut throat competitors. Instead, if we’d all focus on competing with other forms of entertainment and winning that battle, it’ll help our industry prosper.
Below you will find detailed information on what it is that we do and stand for. If you have any questions make sure to visit our FAQ section or contact us.
Four Core Pillars of The iGaming Council
Here’s the TL;DR version of what we stand for and the kind of environment we would like to create within the iGaming industry.
The industry is a fast paced environment where trends change as fast as fortune on slots.
Industry as a whole needs to be able to pass legislation and quickly approve or iterate changes.
Taking a few years to regulate a market or approve a new game type just won’t cut it.
Everyone should be given a fair chance. Players, suppliers, operators and the government.
Fair RTPs for players that leave enough room for suppliers and operators to profit.
Gambling taxes that let both the operators and governments make a lot of money.
We are pro local market regulation as it seems to serve a great purpose that most governments set out for online gambling.
Local regulation means taxes paid to players’ own government, which is then used to improve the very environment they themselves live in.
Sounds like a win to us, even if the games of chance weren’t treating the player well.
Enough with the 35% GGR taxes for operators in a market with high competition and marketing spend.
All stakeholders involved need to look at the bigger picture. If the taxes are too high, no licenses apply and revenue goes to offshore casinos.
Sustainably taxed gambling markets will flourish for decades to come and that’s what we all want.
Latest iGaming News
Independent daily news from the iGaming industry. We also share our own views of what is happening and how to make optimal business decisions based on that in a bi-weekly editors column.
Company makes first entry into LatAm market following the acquisition of Alfabet S.A.S.
Land Based Gambling
Work Done With Governments
Although this is not at the core of what we do, we’ve been fortunate enough to have a chance to contribute towards sensible regulation of online gambling in multiple countries within the EU. Below are some of the pillars we contributed to.
Local Market Data Analytics
The team at iGCouncil has done multiple in-depth gaming market analysis with thousands of player interviews to understand the most popular forms of gambling and player behaviours in various localities.
We’ve then offered an educated opinion on how these game types could be taxed on the supplier and operator level in a way that is mutually beneficial and sustainable over the longterm.
Recommending Best Practices
Being in online gambling since the late 90s lets us offer valuable and timeless advice to those looking to implement regulation of online or land based gambling in their jurisdictions.
Having worked with some of the most successfully regulated markets we also know that in many cases there is no need to reinvent the wheel.
Jurisdictions can just duplicate what works and avoid what doesn’t. We don’t have all the answers, but certainly a fair bit of them.
Advertising is what makes or breaks the successful operations in our industry.
We’ve worked tirelessly with regulators, operators and affiliates to ensure a fair and sustainable model where ethical advertising is allowed and unethical forms of it are properly and efficiently dealt with.
Minors should face as little exposure to gambling as possible, but should also be educated early on of the real risks and potential consequences.
While there are no ways to hide iGaming from minors, we’ve helped multiple regulators create frameworks that properly protect them.
Work Done With iGaming Suppliers
Over the years we’ve developed throughout relationships with some of the industries top game suppliers.
Here’s a glimpse into what we’ve collaborated on with tier 1 developers of games of chance.
Emerging Market Analysis
iGaming is one of the fastest growing, but also competitive sectors. We’ve done in-depth analysis of many markets that are still up and coming and not saturated.
Some of these are free to use via our website while others have been done on a private contract and include orders from local governments to assess their own market, but also from tier 1 operators to understand the viability of entering a particular market.
Player POV Analysis
Between our team we have a few dozen years of experience as being players and talking to other players too.
Having conducted thousands of hours of both play and game related talk we are able to help new, up-and-coming gaming suppliers find their target audience and product-market fit.
Compliance has quickly grown from tomorrow’s problem to be one of the most time consuming tasks for operators, suppliers and regulators who implement them.
We’re here to ensure that players get the protection they deserve, but also that all stakeholders in the value chain remain happy and profitable.
We’ve gone as far as do hours of brainstorming to help a stagnating game supplier reinvent themselves. That same supplier went to achieve a 50% year on year growth later on.
While this is not our core focus area by any means, it just shows that a fresh set of experienced eyes can be very helpful.
Work Done With Operators & Affiliates
Since 2005 we organize a yearly get together where around 100 affiliates and operators come together to share ideas and network. It’s almost like a small conference of our own.
Over the past 15 or so years we’ve been involved in many deals of different kinds, but the following 4 are the most common forms where we share our experience and feel like adding value.
With hundreds of connections throughout the iGaming industry we’re always glad to help with introductions between businesses that are potentially complimentary to each other.
This might be a simple word of mouth introduction or come via one of the many guides we’ve created for affiliates, operators, players or legislators.
Non compliance from an operator in today’s iGaming industry could lead to severe fines or even worse, losing a license.
We’re here to help with implementation of tools, processes and new technologies that can quickly detect any potential threats ahead of time, ensuring that your business remains compliant at all times.
We can also help with license application processes for locally regulated market entry and an overview of compliance features needed across your platform.
Our list of clients include tier 1 suppliers and operators who’ve hired us on a consultancy basis.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Anything from detailed analysis of the marketplace to compiling lists of potential complementary acquisitions.
We’ve done work for several big name, stock market listed affiliate companies and helped them acquire 7 and even 8 figure businesses.
The State Of iGaming in Canada
The next step for Canadian iGaming
The offshore gaming industry, exemplified by big name operators who are licensed and regulated in European jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and Denmark, are successful companies because of ongoing investments made in product development, technology, fraud detection, and player protection.
They have loyal customers that number in the tens of thousands (if not millions), massive liquidity, and employ some of the best and brightest minds in the high tech sector.
In Europe, paying tax in these individual jurisdictions is the cost of doing business in a regulated environment. In exchange for access to a country’s market via a license, operators and regulators agree on how much tax (Gross Gaming Revenue or Gross Profit Tax) will be paid.
Taxation of offshore gambling can provide an important source of revenue for governments if it is properly designed—a point worth underscoring with Canadian provinces.
Read the full article on Canadian Gaming Business website http://canadiangamingbusiness.ca/TheNextStepforCanadianiGaming.aspx
Conduct & Manage: Not Black & White
The federal Criminal Code establishes the legal framework for gambling in Canada.
The Code includes a general prohibition against all forms of gambling, and also provides for a number of specific exemptions to that prohibition, including the authority for provincial governments to “conduct & manage” gambling.
The term “conduct & manage”– operative phrase in the Code – has come to be interpreted as acting as the operating mind.
Across the country, Canadian provincial governments have delegated the authority to conduct & manage gambling to Crown agencies – provincial lottery corporations.
There are similarities in the interpretation of conduct & manage from province to province, but there is no consensus among the provinces of what the legal interpretation of conduct & manage means.
Each province has created its own unique regulatory and operating structures to reflect their individual interpretations.
The point is that while “conduct & mange” is the law, how it is interpreted is not black and white. What one province believes it means can be (and is) different from another, and this has specific implications for online gaming.
To that point, there is nothing in the Criminal Code that prevents a province from regulating online gaming instead of operating.
Europe vs Canada
The IGC believes that governments need to play an important role in setting standards and regulating gaming activity.
While a handful of provincial governments are now introducing their own online gaming products (to date British Columbia, Quebec, and soon Manitoba and Ontario), serious questions are being raised by a number of stakeholders:
- Who will operate the sites?
- Who will regulate, and will they truly regulate or simply function as an operator?
- Who will provide player protections?
- How will Crown agencies be able to compete with the more established players in the market?
While the IGC views the launch of Canadian provinces into the Internet gaming space as a positive step, attempts to enforce a monopoly over online gaming in any particular jurisdiction would be impossible because no government can effectively control the supply of products and services from offshore competitors beyond their jurisdiction.
In contrast, rather than wasting enforcement resources in a fruitless attempt to censor the Internet, resources in an open regulated marketplace can be used efficiently to ensure an effective regulatory regime. There is immense value in having a properly licensed site that is regulated in a first tier jurisdiction. The fact remains that many such jurisdictions exist and are embraced by operators such as IGC Members.
Moreover, instead of having governments trying to compete for players against well established and well-capitalized brands and garnering only a partial market share, creating an open regulated market allows regulators to capture almost the entire market. It extends their ability to protect all consumers, and to review the fairness and legitimacy of all service providers.
An open and competitive market also drives product improvements and provides the maximum choice for consumers, and the IGC submits that Canadians are in favour of this exact development.
Legal Interpretation / Accessing Offshore Sites
This legal position raises the question about Internet gaming clients that offer services in Canada.
IGC members are located offshore in countries that have opted to license and regulate Internet gaming such as the Isle of Man, Alderney, Italy, France, United Kingdom,Denmark, and Belgium.
What is regulated online gaming?
Regulated online gaming is a hot topic, as how it is interpreted and applied varies from country to country and even province to province here in Canada. As consumers continue to embrace online gaming as a form of legitimate entertainment, the reality is that this industry will continue to expand to meet consumer demands, which in turn is forcing governments to address the need to regulate access to the products.
Canada’s online gambling market was worth about $800 million in 2010 (Global Betting & Gaming Consultants (GBGC)) and based on projections from researchers, that is a conservative estimate. By 2013, experts predicted that it would be worth approximately $1.3 billion. And yes, the majority of that money is wagered offshore.
If a government is determined to enter into online gaming and adopt a model, there are three that exist when it comes to online gaming: monopoly, hybrid, and regulated.
A monopoly model means that a lottery corporation is the only provider of product to residents of its respective province or jurisdiction. This model assumes that a government agency can build software and games to capture an appropriate percentage of the market from the bigger and more established operators.
The size of the market, often referred to as liquidity, is an indication of the number of players available, which is necessary if multiplayer games such as poker are being offered. Would you rather play with an operator who gives you access to a few hundred players or tens of thousands of players?
Providing multiplayer games such as poker or single player games typical of an online casino is also technically challenging and the popular and tested products currently available are the result of many years’ research, development, and experience. It is doubtful that a lottery corporation would be able to successfully acquire the skills to successfully compete with the current market providers.
The IGC submits that careful attention should be paid to the reversals of several European countries that have abandoned the monopoly model because it failed to capture a significant percentage of the global gaming revenue or provide adequate player protections, due to the ongoing existence and popularity of more established non-local operators.
Online gamblers value choice in terms of suppliers and products, and the hybrid model straddles the gap between the monopoly and regulated models. Done right, a lottery corporation could launch its’ own products alongside games sourced from non-local operators. This is actually a hybrid model by design – the lottery corporation maintains control and applicants must be screened and accepted before their games can be loaded on to whatever player account management system is being used.
The hybrid model by default is what currently exists in Canada. A handful of provincial lottery corporations have launched their own online games yet the entire market remains open. So the provincial lottery corporations lose out on the potential tax revenue and don’t generate the level of interest or remuneration they thought possible because they can’t compete with the larger, more established operators.
This model has been recognized by governments who are interested in regulating online gaming in order to protect constituencies and generate economic benefits, as evidenced in the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Denmark, Spain, and even Estonia.
The list of countries moving from a prohibitive model towards one of managing online gaming responsibly is growing, as gradually the myths that surround online gaming are being dispelled – and regulators are recognizing that the digital domain offers a degree of transparency that is unrivalled in land-based gaming, in addition to being more straightforward to audit and control.
An open regulated marketplace would allow government agencies to collect some level of tax revenue from nearly 100% of the operators.
From the IGC’s perspective, key lessons can be learned from observing the efforts of regulated jurisdictions: that the industry can be regulated; that effective regulation protects consumers; and that it can also offer economic benefits in the manner of jobs and investments from global technology companies, taxes, licensing fees, and potential revenue sharing, all achieved through reasonable taxation.
Government Monopoly vs Open Regulation
The truth about iGaming: Myths vs Facts
❌ #1 Myth: All regulated jurisdictions are equal
It is wrong to suggest that all regulated jurisdictions are equal or the licenses granted don’t come with a series of strict conditions attached. G8 nations such as the UK, Italy, and France have adopted regulated gaming models in order to force operators to seek a permit from a regulator whose role is to check that any games offered meet or exceed established guidelines.
Online gaming operators who provide services globally (and in regulated environments) do so under licenses granted by their home jurisdictions. While the qualifications vary from one jurisdiction to another, the more stringent regulatory models require operators to utilize programs and/or systems to address youth gambling/money laundering/fair play issues.
IGC Members are strictly regulated in first tier jurisdictions that include the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Alderney, France, Malta, and Italy, which are recognized by the United Kingdom as having acceptable regulatory standards. Additionally, some of our Member companies are publicly traded corporations listed on securities commissions and are subject to further regulatory and listing requirements.
Members are obliged to follow a strict Code of Conduct that outlines the terms and conditions for conducting and managing online gaming operations. This Code ensures that IGC Members are at all times acting with integrity, accountability and transparency, and that player protection is paramount.
❌ #2 Myth: There is no public support for online gambling
Gambling is already a popular entertainment past time for Canadians, as consumers have embraced online gaming as a form of legitimate entertainment. An April 2010 Ipsos-Reid survey found that 71% of Canadians do not believe that gambling or wagering money over the Internet is illegal and that 55% of the public believe that Internet gambling should be permitted as long as it’s regulated by the government.
“The idea of Internet gambling appears to be gaining acceptance in North America, with more people expressing an interest to see it legalized with proper regulation.” (Ipsos-Reid)
❌ #3 Myth: Prohibition/maintaining a state monopoly works
Monopolies are not possible with Internet gambling, because for a monopoly to exist an organization or a government must have the ability or authority to control the supply of a product or service. The monopoly must be able to create and sustain insurmountable barriers to entry from competitors.
By way of example, in Canada most provincial governments have chosen to create Crown agency monopolies for the sale of beverage alcohol. Provincial governments can easily enforce these monopolies because the sales facility must be located in the jurisdiction.
❌ #4 Myth: Online gambling targets problem gamblers
The risk with land-based casinos is that a person can just walk in and play. Thanks to technology, tools have been developed to offer a more robust system of checks and balances for online gambling than land-based gaming, including enabling players to set limits on their play if they choose and blocking access to those who should not gamble online.
The rate of problem gambling in Canada (1 % of the general population) has remained constant for many years, despite increased access to gaming across the country (Canadian Gaming Association, 2011 Economic Impact Update).
In the UK, a recent study on the prevalence of problem gaming found that the rate of problem gamblers also remained the same before and after the introduction of regulated Internet gambling.
The IGC Code of Conduct states that IGC Members will promote responsible gambling measures and, where applicable, implement procedures aimed at identifying and curtailing compulsive / problem gambling.
Furthermore, the procedures instituted should be consistent with the IGC’s Responsible Gambling Guidelines, including, but not limited to, providing referral and direct access to help and counseling organizations.
❌#5 Myth: Monopolies can compete & gain a large market share
The European experience has proven otherwise. A number of jurisdictions such as Denmark, Italy, Spain, and Belgium, attempted to operate a monopoly. However, many discovered that they were unable to maintain it, and those countries are now moving toward an open, regulated marketplace.
Careful attention should be paid to the reversals of these European jurisdictions that have abandoned the monopoly model because it failed to capture a significant percentage of the global gaming revenue or provide adequate player protections, due to the ongoing existence and popularity of more established non-local operators.
Providing multiplayer games such as poker or single player games typical of an online casino is technically challenging and the products currently available in the market are the result of many years of research, development and experience. It is doubtful that a lottery corporation operating under a monopoly model would be able to successfully acquire the skills (which are not limited to technical ability but include the capability to market the casino or poker room) to successfully compete with the current market providers.
Instead of having governments trying to compete for players against well-established and well-capitalized brands and garnering only a partial market share, creating an open regulated market allows regulators to capture almost the entire market. It extends their ability to protect all consumers, and to review the fairness and legitimacy of all service providers.
An open and competitive market also drives product improvements provides the maximum choice for consumers, and would also allow government agencies to collect some level of tax revenue from nearly 100% of the operators.
Benefits of a regulated market:
- Captures nearly 100% of the market share.
- Different operators bring different strengths to the table.
- Multiple operators appeal to different market segments, provide their government partner with options and a range of advice related to the online gaming industry.
- Provides the maximum choice for consumers to experiment with different sites.
- Drives product improvements and provides choice for consumers.
- Provides players with the most cost effective solutions/odds.
❌ #6 Myth: It is easy for kids to gamble online
The bottom line is that kids shouldn’t gamble. Ever. The IGC strongly believes that if policy makers want to protect children, individuals that suffer adverse consequences of excessive gambling, and the general public, then the true and only response is regulation.
On proper online web sites, players need to produce a credit card and answer detailed questions before they are cleared. There are a series of checks and balances, including verification of age, that have to occur before any player can deposit, play or withdraw.
Problem gaming remains an issue for any government agency, regulator or operator in this industry. Dealing with youth prevention, responsible gambling, and problem gambling requires an investment not only in the tools, but also in the approach. IGC members already safeguard players as a consequence of being responsible corporate citizens and working with their regulators in first tier jurisdictions.
As noted in the IGC’s Code of Conduct, members must institute controls aimed at preventing minors from accessing their gaming systems and cannot employ a minor in the operation of their business.
The reality is that the activity is already taking place here, as it is around the world, but without government safeguards. Governments in European jurisdictions feel strongly about raising awareness of responsible gambling practices and ensuring barriers to youth gaming, and IGC Members would like to see those protections offered to Canadian players.
Fortunately, the technology available and in use by IGC Members allows for better controls, including self-exclusion and age verification. Preventing identity fraud, including access by minors
- Verify the age of prospective players and do not allow access to under aged gamblers.
- Restrict the type of payment of winning by non-negotiable instrument only to the account holder to avoid paying unauthorized persons, such as minors.
- Have procedures allowing persons to voluntarily exclude themselves from participation or to set deposit limits on the gaming site.
- Provide information to players regarding available blocking software that will allow parents to restrict access by their children.
❌ #7 Myth: Online gaming cannibalizes land-based casinos
The reality is that we live in an online world. Based on the rollout of online gaming in the UK, legal online poker did not cannibalize casinos’ revenues.
In fact, many believe that the popularity of online poker is responsible for the resurgence or increase in land-based gambling.
In the UK, a decline in land-based gaming was not experienced after the launch of online gambling.
During the iGaming North America 2011 spring conference, Bellagio poker operations director Doug Dalton said that online poker had driven the growth of the hotel-casino’s poker offerings.
“Brick-and-mortar casinos were concerned online poker would take a lot of customers. What we found was it brought people into our poker room,” Dalton said.
❌ #8 Myth: Offshore operators are illegal and unregulated
It is not correct to represent companies who are unable to apply for a license in Canada as “unregulated”. Online gaming operators who provide services globally (and in regulated environments) do so under licenses granted by their home jurisdictions.
In Europe, the general trend is to allow licensing of independent companies who meet the relevant regulatory requirements and government standards. IGC Members are licensed in European countries and territories such as the UK, Denmark, France, Italy, Malta, Gibraltar, and the Isle of Man.
These countries all require high standards on such matters as under-age gambling, money laundering, responsible gambling, player protection and third-party testing of systems for fairness and security.
European operators do business under stringent licensing regimes and must remain compliant in order to retain their licenses.
❌ #9 Myth: Online gambling is just a front for money laundering
A number of IGC Members are located in banking hubs in G8 nations, which are closely regulated by securities commissions – leaving no room for criminal activity. Unlike land-based casinos, every financial transaction and keystroke are electronically tracked and events are easily re-created/reported.
Operators are required to maintain a minimum bankroll or reserves to assure that players will have their deposits returned and any winnings paid.
As an example, IGC Members are required under the Isle of Man (IOM) license to hold all player funds in a separate account, which must equal or exceed the amount of all player-owned funds on deposit. This is frequently monitored by IOM regulators.