As lottery monopolies continue with their plans to launch Internet casino gaming and online poker sites in Canada, Québec Region Raymond Bachand seems to be a sole voice of rationality. “It is better to frame and regulate an industry that generates around CAD $25 million a year than [to] try to prohibit it.”
Bachand’s own home gaming monopoly, Loto-Québec is due to open its own poker and casino gaming website in September and companies in Alberta, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Ontario will soon be following suit afterward.
But while Canada’s existing monopolies are in a decent position to win a decent share of the Canadian internet casino market, these companies are ironically far behind dozens of quality gaming sites already well-established in both the English- and French-speaking markets of Canada – hardly a situation befitting a market about as big as Germany’s.
The numbers are certainly on the side of pro-reform voices like Bachand:
• In 2006, Canadian live casinos brought in CDN$7.5 billion. The entire Canadian gaming industry was worth approximately CDN $15.3 billion.
• In 2009, Loto-Québec reported total revenue of CDN $1.46 billion overall and $131 million outside its live casinos.
• Later that year, Québecois authorities estimated that non-approved transactions at online gaming sites from the province alone were over CDN $90 million.
• Industry experts expect Canadian online gambling transactions to be over CDN $1 billion by 2012.
With the popularity of poker and casino games still on the rise, Canada will continue as one of the world’s most vital gaming markets – whether the government has regulations in place or not. Until the Canadian government realizes how much money they stand to make (or lose through continued inaction), reform will come.