It’s an exciting time to be a sports bettor in Canada as the country’s sports betting and igaming industry has seen significant growth in the past year and is poised for further expansion in 2024. Ontario has set the stage for regulated igaming with impressive numbers, including $14.2 billion in wagers and $540 million in gaming revenue generated from iCasino, online sports betting, and online poker in the second quarter of the 2023-24 fiscal year. The success of Ontario’s model has caught the attention of industry regulators across the country, with Alberta and Quebec showing interest in adopting similar approaches.
Alberta, in particular, has publicly expressed interest in expanding its gambling market beyond the PlayAlberta platform operated by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission. However, the process has hit a stalemate, despite industry stakeholders and politicians showing support for the expansion. Meanwhile, in Quebec, the Quebec Online Gaming Coalition (QOGC) has been advocating for a regulated igaming market, with survey results indicating strong interest from Quebecers. The coalition has also formed a strategic partnership with GeoComply to gather data on online gambling habits in the province.
Ontario’s success has provided a blueprint for other provinces, but the expansion of regulated gambling will require careful consideration of legal and ethical factors. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has implemented strict advertising standards for igaming operators, with a ban on using influencers and celebrities who may appeal to minors. This move has been prompted by public pressure to address the advertising blitz accompanying the launch of Ontario’s regulated igaming market.
At the federal level, legislation has been tabled to establish a national framework for sports betting advertising with the aim of protecting society, children, and youth. However, legal challenges have emerged, including a constitutional challenge launched by The Mohawk Council of Kahnawàke against iGaming Ontario and the Attorney General of Ontario over the changes made to the online gaming structure.
The lawsuit will examine the province’s interpretation of “conduct and manage” under the Criminal Code of Canada and determine the operational control of the igaming market. Despite the legal hurdles and challenges, the Canadian sports betting and igaming industry is poised for further growth in 2024, with the potential for more provinces to embrace regulated igaming and sports betting.