Notes on Canada’s New Regulated Live Casino Market

Canada is the latest country to announce a framework for legal online gambling within its borders. It follows the US’ decision to make online sports and casino betting legal in 2018 and will open up the Canadian territory for private businesses to set up shop and take bets from citizens for the first time.

So, if you are reading this from Canada and looking forward to testing your luck on roulette tables run by big global names then here are some top-level notes explaining what this all means and the likely timeline of events.

Onshore vs Offshore Betting

Firstly, we should point out that casino players in Canada have not been denied the opportunity to gamble online before now.

There are in fact already limited options within the borders, provided by the state-run sites like OLG.com in Ontario, and from offshore sites that are licensed in European jurisdictions like Malta and the Isle of Man. But what has changed is that new rules that have become law in 2021 give each Province’s Government the opportunity to hand out licenses to private betting firms for the first time. That means private companies including the big European ones like 888 and Will Hill will be able to come in, set up shop and start taking bets and paying taxes to the Canadian government for the pleasure.

We expect that this increased competition in the industry should create better value and services for the player. Why? We will come onto that in more detail in a moment, but a quick glance at what the OLG offer and what their rivals in the European markets like the UK have, and you’ll see that operators who have cut their teeth in those highly competitive territories have built stronger product portfolios and have a better grasp of customer management, which can only be a good thing for you as a player.

Timelines for The First Online Casinos

As ever with state business, it does not look like things will change overnight. Each Provincial Government will need to create its own framework for licensing, including setting out the necessary standards for business practices and responsible gambling that any operator must meet before being granted a license. Ontario have made the most progress here, and their newly formed Alcohol and Gambling Commission have made clear they expect applications for licenses before the end of 2021. Other big provinces like British Colombia are expected to follow soon after.

Note that although private operators will provide competition for the state-run sites, the Provinces are still keen to move things forward due to the massive tax windfalls the newly regulated industry will drive. This is particularly important in the post-pandemic world where National Debt is at extraordinary levels. So, expect changes to be pushed along quickly.

More Choice at Legitimate Sites

So, is this a better situation for Canada’s roulette players? After all, they have had ample choice from the offshore casinos up to now. Well, that may be true, but there are several reasons why gamblers should prefer to be playing within a regulated market in Canada.

Firstly, most players will be happier to be spending their money at casinos that are paying their dues to the state in the form of taxes rather than simply syphoning off the dollars to their own private bank accounts.

But the main reason why all this regulation is a good thing is that it means the Canadian governments can set out a clear set of standards for operators which makes gambling safer for the consumer. That means betting operators will have to adhere to good business practices that ringfence player account balances, preventing them from being lost should the company go bust. It also means casinos will need to provide an adequate level of protection to players in the form of Responsible Gambling tools like Self Exclusion, and wagering, depositing and time limits for play. The games themselves will all have to be rigorously tested by 3rd party auditors for fairness and randomness too.

And of course, by playing at live casinos licensed by the Canadian government, players will have recourse to proper licensing bodies if an operator is in breach of these high standards, and a local point of contact to speak to if they wish to make a complaint. This is a much better scenario to find yourself in than one in which a player has to pursue their case abroad. Complaints about casino operators are quite common, and whilst most are resolved amicably between the player and the support team, it isn’t unheard of for a third-party arbiter and the licensor to step in. In the new framework, that will be a Canadian organisation rather than one based out in Europe.

Finally, new regulations will mean much more choice for Canada’s sports betting and casino players. And more choice should mean a better quality of service. The companies who will apply for licenses are likely to have decades of experience operating outside of Canada and an understanding of how to treat their customers well to ensure a high rate of retention.

So, with that in mind, roulette fans can look forward to all these advantages of a newly regulated market:

  • Tables with the optimum Return to Player (i.e. 99% +) – you can find out more about published RTPs on review sites that show the best payout online casinos in Canada ranked by percentage.
  • Higher value welcome bonuses that offer preferable wagering and maximum withdrawal terms – you’ll get more for your buck in the new casinos
  • Professional customer support – usually the teams speak Canadian French too
  • Excellent VIP programs for high spending players – we’ve collected big bonuses from some of those European sites.
  • All the very latest products – Live Casino is one of the most technologically advanced verticals in gaming and you can play superb bespoke versions of roulette by providers like Evolution Gaming, as well as 1000s of top slots. Generally, the private operators will feature all these and have a wider choice in their catalogues than the state run sites we referred to earlier.

In short, the future looks bright for Canadian gamblers. The only thing left to do now is sit tight and wait for announcements of successful license applications. We expect new online casinos and sportsbooks to begin opening their doors and taking bets in 2022. In the meantime, you can check out our roulette guides to ensure you are ready to maximise your strategies when the time comes!

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