Two ways to stop online casinos in Canada from hurting the economy.
This morning, I came across another ‘opinion‘ article complaining about the economic disaster that offshore online gambling websites create. The fundamentals of argument are always the same, yet the proposed solutions never go far enough to fix the situation.
In this case, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation is urging local provinces to allow the ALC to offer online casino games. It’s a solid argument. I agree with it. However, just launching new iGaming venues won’t stop residents from gambling at offshore sites. Some will, but most won’t, as has been in the case in all other provinces where extensive iGaming is already available.
How Offshore Gambling Hurts the Economy
When Canadians choose to gamble with an international online casino or sportsbook, it funnels that money overseas. Gambling with homeland operators ensures the money goes back into the economy. Each provincial government utilizes gambling revenue to fund important things like hospitals, education and community enhancement projects.
Yes, it is better – from a bureaucratic and civic standpoint – to keep cash cycling through our own economy. But when the services provided by offshore companies are far superior to those offered at home, the economic value is overshadowed.
It’s like paying twice as much money for an item manufactured in Canada, as opposed to buying the same item made overseas for half the price. Some will see it as their civic duty and pay the extra cash, but most will take the better deal.
Ways to Stop Offshore Online Casinos in Canada from Hurting the Economy
The way I see it, there’s two ways to fix the problem. Prohibition of international gambling sites is not one of them. That doesn’t work. Other governments have tried it before. Overseas operators will always find a way in, and players will continue to utilize them for their myriad benefits. Instead, we need to fix the problem right here at home.
1. Change Regulations so Canada Online Casinos and Sports Betting Mimic Offshore Sites
One way would be to enhance the provincial gambling regulations so that home-grown websites can offer the same benefits as international websites. In Canada, promotions are disallowed. Players cannot claim a bonus when they sign up an account. They can’t earn free spins on the slots for making a deposit. There’s no incentive to start or continue playing, as there is in the offshore realm.
To change this, a constitutional amendment would be required. Therein lies the biggest problem. The federal government would have to institute legislation giving provinces the right to offer incentives to gamble.
As for sports betting, there’s no eloquent way to say this. Canadian sports betting sucks. We’re forced to bet on parlays with long odds. Overseas, sportsbooks offer straight up bets that players have a much higher chance of winning. Change the legal rules so we can wager like the rest of the world, and people will be much more inclined to bet at home.
2. Open our Virtual Doors and Offer Licences to International Gambling Operators
As the old saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them. In this case, let them join us. This is the same approach taken by the UK in 2014, and it’s worked wonders for them.
Instead of trying to compete with offshore operators, let’s offer them the opportunity to apply for a licence to operate right here in Canada. There’s a lot of money in it for government coffers. The licence fees and tax revenue would be tremendous.
Any operator that accepts Canadians without a licence would become illegal, enacting the prohibition that many provincial governments so strongly desire. So far, local governments have done everything in their power to eliminate competition, rather than accepting it. We see how well that’s been working.
Welcome these operators into the fold. Make them comply with our regulatory guidelines. Give the people a choice, and they’ll respond affably. Stifle them, and they’ll continue choosing to play with overseas online casinos in Canada, as the majority have been doing for the last two decades.