And so, in the U.S. we may be witnessing a let-up in the stern regulations that impede sports betting, gambling, and above all – online poker from taking in earnest. The ruling of the SCOTUS has been like a breath of fresh air into the creaky bones of decades-old legislation.
Now, though, a neighbor is facing a problem over-regulation. Canada’s gambling industry managed to fare quite well in 2017, with revenue of nearly CAD$17.3 billion. Not the highest grossing industry in the world, but certainly one that has been marked by an incremental, and some may argue – heady, expansion.
Legal or Illegal – This is the Question
Up until now, it was perfectly fine to be betting or playing poker on an operator that was not physically based in the country. However, a number of casinos have been kicking up a fuss over that proviso, with PlayNow.com, Espacejeux, and PlayOLG unhappy with the state of affairs.
But it’s hardly just local businessmen who are keen on bringing more regulatory heft in the overall poker rules Canada has. Quite on the contrary, legislators too are now worried about Canadian players who deposit millions of Canadian dollars with foreign operators.
Beyond the simple state of matters, i.e. that tax revenue is irreversibly lost, the country has been worried over the number of players who are in fact at a risk of becoming problem gamblers. To address these issues, the province of Quebec passed a piece of legislation, known as Bill 74, which set up a new ISP force, which has to block illegal operators from accessing the province.
We Love Canadian, But…
Now, if Canadians have been avoiding local casinos, it’s not really a mystery. Take Loto-Quebec for example. While it was perfectly fine to gamble with the facility, and still is, the Return to Player rates (RTP) are deplorable, some gamers fulminate. This is justified. However, the withdrawal of players en masse from Loto-Quebec has led to a deadlock which barred the company from expanding and remaining competitive.
Espace Jeux has undergone a similar ordeal. Happy with how things ran locally and oblivious of international competition, the gambling operator has kept RTPs not particularly favorng the players. Despite a slight modification in the overall RTP, the company’s lost too many potential customers to competing well.
I Will Take Bill 74
Bill 74 is the heavy guns of Canadian regulators. The bill will effectively block around 2,000 gambling websites and it will broker a new page in the online poker and gambling history of the country. What the bill wants to do is offer foreign operators a chance to partner up with Espace Jeux and offer their services through the company as a buffer.
Resistance has been strong. The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA), a union of all ISP, has already filed an official complaint against the measures that the Bill is trying to put into place. The pushback from IPS is telling of the predominant sentiment in the country – monopolies haven’t bought anything good – be that in gambling or anything else.