Predicting Which Provinces Will Next Launch An Open Online Gambling Market

Written By Matthew Lomon on April 11, 2023
Crystal Ball

Over the past year, Ontario has played the role of pioneer and guinea pig for regulated online sportsbooks and casinos in Canada. In that time, the nation’s most populous province has emerged as Canada’s premier wagering environment.

The Ontario market features an unparalleled array of offerings from government-run and private operators. In its first year, the sector saw about $35.6 billion in total handle and approximately $1.4 billion in total gaming revenue, per iGaming Ontario.

With a proven formula and the financials to back it, surely another province will follow Ontario’s lead.

But, which one will be next? PlayCanada predicts which provinces are most likely to follow in Ontario’s footsteps.

Front-runner: Alberta

Ontario’s success has piqued the interest of Albertans and government officials alike. Both groups are lobbying for provincial regulation. Currently, there is only one regulated gaming site available, PlayAlberta, but the results are encouraging.

Karin Campbell, the communications manager for Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis told CBC News in an email that PlayAlberta, “has witnessed tremendous growth since launching its sports offering” a year and a half ago. Campbell accredited the growth to connected betting activities, as well as newly improved access to online lottery services.

For this reason, the AGLC is closely observing Ontario’s market dynamics and remains focused on supporting “the successful and legal implementation of an expanded sports betting market.”

While there is no ETA for expansion, Alberta has already checked two essential boxes: an eager population and willing government.

Second in line: British Columbia

Known for its industry-leading responsible gambling program, GameSense, British Columbia is also ready for an expanded market. Similar to its Western Canada counterparts in Alberta, BC is home to just one legal gaming website, PlayNow.com.

As such, single-event sports betting boomed on PlayNow, drawing $170 million on such bets in the first 12 months.

“Single-event bets account for the majority of all sports bets on [the site],” said Matt Lee, a spokesperson for British Columbia Lottery Corporation, in an email to CBC News.

Understanding the popularity of these services, Lee mentioned that BCLC “continues to evaluate what sports-betting experiences” could soon become available.

Though open-ended, Lee’s comments suggest a little more than cautious optimism and right now, that’s as good as it gets.

Third in line: Quebec

The birthplace of Canadian lotteries (Montreal introduced a $2 “voluntary” tax lottery in 1968) presents a curious case. There is minimal concrete information regarding potential expansion, but La Belle Province’s make-up can’t help but elicit speculation.

Backed by the second largest provincial population in Canada and a rich history of sporting success, Quebec has the foundation to successfully expand its sports wagering market. However, despite drastically exceeding the necessary criteria, Loto-Quebec’s Mise-O-Jeu is the province’s only regulated sports betting website.

Perhaps Quebec is following an approach similar to Alberta’s, closely monitoring Ontario’s market to project how it might fare in the same scenario. After all, it is the province that best compares to Ontario in terms of demography.

Regardless of what progress has or has not been made, Quebec is surely a province to keep an eye on.

Dark horse: Atlantic Canada

For East Coasters, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation oversees all single-event sports betting. Since that option became available in February 2022, sales have been strong according to ALC spokesman Greg Weston.

Atlantic Canada’s potential expansion bid is going to be quite different than that of Alberta or Quebec. Comparatively, ALC is responsible for four provinces, while AGLC and Loto-Quebec work exclusively for their namesake. This doesn’t necessarily pose a problem. It more so relies on a ‘strength in numbers’ strategy that counts on harmony within a shared region for success.

Together, the four Atlantic provinces share about 2.5 million people, which would be the fifth-largest province in Canada. If harmony is the plan and sales are strong, ALC could conceivably receive the green-light in the not-so-distant future.

Photo by Shutterstock
Matthew Lomon Avatar
Written by
Matthew Lomon

Matthew Lomon has been a contributor at Catena Media’s network of regional sites since July 2022. He first broke into covering the legal North American gambling industry with PlayCanada. Since then, Matthew's reporting has extended to PlayMichigan, PlayPennsylvania, and PlayIllinois. Based out of Toronto, Ontario, Matthew is an avid (bordering on fanatic) sports fan.

View all posts by Matthew Lomon
Privacy Policy