Updated May 31
The 25th annual Canadian Gaming Summit, Canada’s premier gaming event, comes to Toronto next week from June 7-9 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Under the theme “Canada – A World of New Opportunities”, the Summit will reunite the Canadian industry in person at an exciting time.
The past two years have been challenging for gaming in Canada, as with the industry across the world, yet the resilience of the industry has been strong.
The 2022 Summit will provide many opportunities to discuss significant developments, not least Ontario opening its regulated iGaming market, the continuing transformation of the country’s sports betting landscape, and the ever-evolving product and technology innovations that characterize gaming in Canada.
The resilience, innovation, and relentless pursuit of the evolution of our industry are thanks to the strong leadership and dedication of companies in the Canadian gaming industry.
Here, Paul Burns, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, gives his thoughts on the state of gaming in Canada right now and why the 2022 Canadian Gaming Summit promises to be an unmissable event.
What can attendees expect from this year’s Summit?
PB: “We missed the last two years so it’s the first chance in a long time for the industry to gather in person en masse. We have seen high demand and strong support from exhibitors, sponsors, and registrants. A lot has changed in the last two years in the Canadian marketplace, and this is a wonderful chance for industry veterans and newcomers alike to come together for a great three days of interaction. We’ll also assess the early results from the opening of the Ontario iGaming market. There has been a significant amount of interest – between 30 and 40 operators are expected in the market within the first year – and we’re seeing the beginnings of that now. We’ll also see new technology and innovators in the sports betting space and beyond. There’s a great deal of excitement around this year’s event and it’s going to be a great showcase for what’s happening.”
Why is this event so important for drawing attention to the Canadian market?
PB: “The Canadian Gaming Summit has always been a chance to shine a spotlight on everything great in the gaming industry in Canada. There are distinct attributes in every market in the world and Canada has unique relationships between government and gaming operators. The Summit brings people together to share ideas and network and is a great way for new entrants to the market to get to know the industry. We want to let the rest of the world in to see the great innovation and expertise that is here.”
What do you anticipate as the key battlegrounds for those looking to enter the Canadian market?
PB: “Companies and brands are seeing the benefits of what’s Canadian. Canada is a great place to create a beachhead for the North American market – we have a lot of strong features, from a very hospitable investor climate to access to capital markets, to the depth and wealth of talent available across the country in the tech space. It’s an exciting time and given what Ontario is offering companies, it’s a chance for them to put their best foot forward to consumers. I think it will truly be a battle of product.”
In your opinion, could Canada become a global powerhouse for sports betting and gaming?
PB: “Canada has always punched above its weight in the iGaming space and we have seen a lot of great success from Canadians who have, until now, had to go abroad. Now, there is an opportunity for that innovation and expertise to stay and prosper here. Ontario is one of the largest jurisdictions in North America and its open-license model for iGaming, wherein anybody who wants to apply for registration is free to do so, is a unique feature in North America. We’re seeing companies from both inside and outside Canada actively looking to participate, there are new start-ups entering, and it’s going to produce a competitive and dynamic market.”
How important is prioritizing responsible gambling measures within the Canadian gambling agenda?
PB: “Dedication to responsible gaming has long been part of the industry’s DNA in Canada. Other parts of the world are having discussions that we had here over a decade ago. We have some of the leading lights in RG who have been exporting their expertise around the world. It’s something that has been in every jurisdiction in Canada and operators are seeing that dedication. One of the policy factors in Ontario choosing to regulate iGaming and end the grey market was to close the loop to create a strong regulated marketplace with best-in-class RG features built into the regulatory standards, while also allowing operators to show their own commitment and programs. Prospective operators are embracing those standards and programs.”
What can be learned from the rollout of sports betting across the US?
“ We’ve seen in the Ontario regulatory standards one big difference from the US is the limitation of inducements and offers to the public through advertising. That’s a choice Ontario made, to not permit those to occur in mass-market advertising. Ontarians and Canadians have had access to online sportsbooks for years, whereas in the US there was very limited or no access to sports betting in many places. I would call Ontario somewhat of a semi-mature market when it comes to sports betting. There is lots of potential because there are a lot of sports fans, and research has shown an openness among sports fans to bet on sports even if they have not done so regularly before. That’s an exciting opportunity for sportsbooks to educate novice sports bettors and give them new, innovative, and unique products.”
Finally, what are your top predictions for the Canadian gaming market over the next five years?
“There is going to be a lot of transition. As it has over the last few years, the online gaming and betting industry will continue to evolve. The future of the land-based casino sector is very important; government and partners and stakeholders in the industry want to see that sector recover fully. There are lots of investments in innovation coming from the land-based casino sector that will be of tremendous benefit. Then, of course, we’re going to see that growth of sports betting in the Canadian market.
“It’s a bright future right now after a very dark couple of years for our industry. We are on the cusp of significant change from the laws on sports betting to creating a regulated iGaming market in Ontario. We just need to make sure that all sectors of and partners in the gaming industry pull together to ensure the regulatory frameworks are fair and that we create a level playing field for the industry to compete. Ultimately, this is going to be a fascinating period of transition for the marketplace.”
For more information on the 2022 Canadian Gaming Summit and to register as a delegate, please visit www.canadiangamingsummit.com. If you are interested in exhibiting, sponsoring, or being a session presenter, please contact [email protected]