BCLC retail sportsbook Sports Action ends operations after 33 years

Lottery corp will launch new way to bet in store

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) is shutting down its retail sportsbook Sports Action this weekend after 33 years.

Sports Action will end operations at in-person venues on Saturday, May 25 to make way for a new retail sportsbook to come. The lottery corporation says the new all-digital sportsbook with improved quality and quantity of offerings will be launched in late summer.

When that happens, pen-and-paper betting will be a thing of the past in B.C. but single-event betting will be offered at retail locations for the very first time. BCLC’s new sportsbook will also offer improved odds and same-day payouts as well as increase the number of games available from hundreds to thousands. The lottery corp is also bringing back the Toto jackpot game, wherein players receive a big payout if they can predict the winner of 13 games correctly.

“While BCLC has made the decision to decommission Sports Action, we are excited to bring our players a brand-new, digital sportsbook in retail later this summer. The new offering will remain anonymous (no account required) and will be completely digital (no more paper and pencil betting slips),” a BCLC spokesperson told Canadian Gaming Business. “BCLC will provide our players and retailers with updates as the project evolves and players can visit sportsaction.ca to learn about the new retail sportsbook as more information becomes available.”

In the meantime, the only way British Columbians will be able to legally place bets on sports will be through the BCLC’s PlayNow.com website or app.

The change is part of a wider change to BCLC’s retail operations that includes new lottery terminals being launched in retail and hospitality locations across the province on May 26. The corporation told Canadian Gaming Business the new machines will provide a “faster purchasing experience and enhanced functionality” and that “replacing our legacy equipment and systems will help sustain and modernize B.C.’s lottery business to support future growth for the benefit of the province of B.C. and our retail partners.”

In retail locations, players will see a new easy-scan ticket checker and new selection slips and checkout screens, while installations in restaurants and bars will offer the ability to purchase more than one game at a time, tap payment, and greater access to games.

BCLC is temporarily shutting down retail play on Saturday afternoon or evening before activating the new machines on Sunday. Poker Lotto will also cease operation permanently on Saturday.

BCLC launches strategic review

The move comes at a time when BCLC is reassessing its operations.

The corporation has enlisted advisory firm SCCG Management to conduct a “a comprehensive assessment and strategic enhancement” of BCLC’s work, including a study of the corporation’s technological infrastructures, market strategy, and gaming integrations.

PlayNow.com is the only legal avenue for online gaming and sports betting in B.C., Manitoba and Saskatchewan and utilises a portfolio of technology partners including OpenBet’s omnichannel Player Account Management platform and sports betting technology.

BCLC’s review is in part an attempt to build on the record year it reported last September.

The corporation’s 2022/23 Annual Service Plan Report showed a record-breaking net income of $1.64 billion in its first full fiscal year of post-pandemic casino and community gaming centre operations. However, the lottery noted at the time that the launch of the regulated Ontario market “created challenges for PlayNow.com to continue to maintain its significant market share.”

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