Canadians love to gamble; over half of the entire population is said to be involved in online wagering in one form or another. From lotteries to casino games and live dealer rooms to social games just played for fun and relaxation, there is something for everyone. While gambling regulations vary from province to province, the big news in 2022 was that Ontario became the first place to have a fully regulated and legalized market.
Bricks-and-mortar casinos are less popular
The biggest thing to note is that land-based casinos are reporting declining revenues. There are eighty land-based casinos across Canada, seventeen of which are First Nation venues. The decline in the popularity of physical casinos is not a particularly new trend.
For example, Alberta Casino revenues were down by 24% in the 2018-2019 financial year. The restrictions around the Covid-19 pandemic only exacerbated this trend, and the venues have not fully recovered.
There is no evidence that Canadians are gambling less; on the contrary, they have been finding new ways to spend their leisure time instead.
Ontario is open for business
Online casino games are becoming increasingly popular, nowhere more so than in Ontario, which has grabbed the bull by the horns and opened the country’s first fully regulated and legalized market. Ontario has thrown open its virtual doors to the biggest names in online casino gaming. First, these operators have had to apply for a license and sign up to a rigid framework established to protect players from potential gambling harm.
With every type of gambling now allowed in the province, this must be the most talked about change of 2022. This trend will continue well into the future as the regulator grants more licenses and Ontarians get to choose where to place online gaming dollars.
Unlike other provinces, those playing in Ontario can choose from a growing list of online operators rather than just one or two platforms owned and run by the provincial government.
A fully regulated market
What this means in reality for people who want to play at an online casino in Ontario is that they can do so knowing that the licensee has signed up to a legal framework that has been put in place to protect them.
Better for customers
As well as providing gamblers with easy access to safer gambling tools, the regulated operators offer a high standard of customer service, which is often available 24/7. This means that if things go wrong, there is someone to hand. They also have a wide choice of possible deposit and withdrawal options. This means that players can choose the fastest withdrawal online casino if this is important to them.
In addition, they do not need to wait days to cash in their winnings, and some operators even offer PayPal payouts within 24 hours. The trend for better customer service will likely continue, leading to an enhanced gaming experience and better customer retention.
Even more new licenses
On December 7th, The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) issued additional gambling licences. AGCO has issued more than sixty licenses since the igaming market opened on April 4th. The list of operators includes international names like bet365, BetMGM, LeoVegas and Unibet.
The latest licenses have been granted to Ligtip Limited, Delta iGaming and Eclipse Entertainment. This will see the rollout of Tonybet, Delta Bingo and Gaming, and the High Flyer Casino across the province. These follow closely on the heels of the approval of a license for NetBet Enterprises’ Ngames SpinAway and one for Rootz’s Wildz brand.
Crackdown on UFC Betting
However, it is not all about opening up. The AGCO has also used its powers to order operators in the province to cease taking bets on UFC. This comes amid integrity concerns in the Ultimate Fighting Championships.
The concern is that UFC fighters have been placing bets on themselves. The legal framework that has been established says that events on which betting is permitted “must be effectively supervised by a sport governing body which must, at minimum, prescribe final rules and enforce codes of conduct that include prohibitions on betting by insiders.”
In October, UFC changed its rules to prevent fighters from betting on themselves, but other insiders are still permitted to do so.
Keeping betting clean
The regulated Ontario market says that there must be “integrity safeguards in place which are sufficient to mitigate the risk of match-fixing, cheat-at-play, and other illicit activity that might influence the outcome of bet upon events.”
If AGCO is prepared to flex its muscles with UFC, this will likely be taken as a warning by other new or emerging sports. We will have to wait and see if this drives betting underground or cleans up the insider action.
More new slots and brand extensions
There have been some emerging trends which have crossed over into the mainstream this year. This dizzying new array of slot machine titles allows people to find a game to suit their interests and playing styles.
With this market growing at such a rate, it is notable that many franchises are including a video slot as part of their brand extension. For example, Game of Thrones and Guns N’ Roses worked with slot providers to produce themed games.