When one thinks of Canadian gambling, it is tough not to immediately think of Paul Burns. Head of the Canadian Gaming Association and a new member of the Sports Betting Hall of Fame, Burns has been pushing for years to expand gambling in Canada.
You can thank Burns and others for what is happening in Ontario, but this is just the first step in a decades-long process. He recently spoke with Mollie Chapman about how Ontario is going, what province might regulate next, and why now is the time for Canada to take its place on the international gambling industry stage.
Ontario gaming could have changes coming
We are coming up on six months since the launch of the regulated market in Ontario. The preliminary numbers were not stellar, but it is nonetheless a solid start. Burns also pointed out that this is a market where everyone should expect growth and change.
“As the market matures, things may have to change. And I think that’s something that both the AGCO and iGO recognize, so they’ve created a model, obviously that’s not cast in stone, but it’s actually set to make sure it works for everybody, including them. When they want to, they may want changes to come forward. But at this point, everything seems to be working well for everybody. And so we’ve had a good start.”
Those changes could come sooner rather than later given that everyone in the country, as Burns noted, is keeping an eye on Ontario before considering more widespread expansion. Meanwhile, though, one province is moving forward with a different approach to online gambling.
Alberta could be the next province to regulate
The province of Alberta recently put out an RFP to select a sportsbook operator for the province. It’s not a model like Ontario’s, it’s not based on a regulatory regime, but more of a service contract model. I think a lot of jurisdictions are going to look to see how the Ontario market performs,” Burns told Chapman.
This growth and acceptance of online gambling is a long time coming for Burns, who first started asking the provinces and the country to regulate gambling expansion in 2006.
Now he is excited to have conversations with more regulators about how to proceed, regardless of what approach they want to take.
“Work with the industry and create a model that works for everybody, and especially works in protecting consumers and players in Canada,” Burns advised. “We know there’s interest, we know Canadians are spending money on offshore sites, so we’re just asking them to say please take a look at how you can bring it into a regulatory regime, protect players, and give Canadian companies and Canadian gaming operators a chance to compete fairly.”
New CGB partnership with SBC takes CGS global
One other way Burns hopes to bring more companies and operators into the fold is through the sale of the Canadian Gaming Summit (and Canadian Gaming Business) to SBC. The conference has long been a must-attend for Canadians, but with a new conference producer with a global reputation, it is time for the next step.
“For a lot of reasons, the timing was right. The gaming industry in Canada has gone through a pretty significant shift in the last few years with an increasing number of private operators on the casino side but also now with Ontario’s regulated gaming market inviting 1000s of companies more than hundreds of suppliers into the marketplace. It really is a new dynamic. So it was a great time for us to engage with the new partner and look forward to a really positive relationship going forward.”
Now that Canada is in the spotlight on a global gambling stage, it is a great time to think about moving forward, and Burns continues to help lead the charge.
Check out the entire interview here.