Canada's Premier Gaming Industry Magazine
Vol. 15 No. 1
A CASHLESS FUTURE The CGA's cashless standards are paving the way
CanadianGamingSummit.com June 9-10, 2021 Virtual
A Long Time Coming Canada's sports betting progress is a logical and overdue move
Volume 15 No. 1
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MESSAGE FROM THE CGA
10 COVER STORY An Increasingly Cashless Future
President Kevin Brown
President & CEO Paul Burns
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Official Publication of the Canadian Gaming Summit
The Canadian Gaming Association’s regulatory Standards for Cashless Systems are the result of an industry-wide discussion about where gaming is headed.
14 TECHNOLOGY Is Cash Still King? Cashless gaming options are one step closer to becoming a reality in Canada. What does it mean moving forward?
Moving With The Times COVID-19 has accelerated the trend towards increased digitized gaming options, and industry giants are helping drive the change.
Betting on Home Advantage With one of North America’s leading sportsbooks in hand, theScore is laying plans for the possibilities offered by potential legalized single-event sports betting.
A Long Time Coming From player protection to COVID-19 recovery, sports betting legislation is a logical and overdue move for the Canadian market.
Bet Regal, FansUnite, Kambi Meeting three of the association’s new members who all have eyes firmly fixed on sports betting progress.
REGULATION AND COMPLIANCE
Ontario Moving Towards New iGaming Regime The Canadian online gaming landscape is on the cusp of significant changes, as the province of Ontario continues down the road of liberalizing its provincial model to allow private iGaming operators a greater role.
THE 2021 VIRTUAL CANADIAN GAMING SUMMIT & SUMMIT WEBINAR SERIES
June 9-10, 2021
VIRTUAL CANADIAN GAMING SUMMIT
April, and May 2021 SUMMIT WEBINAR SERIES
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A New Frontier A lot can happen in a year. THE CANADIAN GAMING industry has been hit desperately hard by the COVID-19 pandemic since the first provincial states of emergency and subsequent shutdowns began to sweep across the country in March of 2020. The pre-pandemic societal norms feel like a distant age in April 2021 and, in many ways, things will never likely be the same again. Though closures and fallen revenues have been among the negative impacts of the last 12 months, it is too easy to dwell on the bad. Instead, here, we look at two of the major ways the industry appears to be on the verge of seismic change. The Canadian Gaming Association’s Standards for Cashless Systems have laid a thorough and extensive groundwork for the continued adoption of cashless technology within the industry. This is a trend that was already underway before the pandemic shifted the landscape of gaming, but recent events have brought it sharply into focus. In this, the f irst Canadian Gaming Business issue of 2021, we spoke to major industry players about the importance of these standards and the opportunities they present. We also quizzed gaming technology giants in our Industry Q&A about what has been driving the gravitation towards cashless technology, what’s currently on offer for operators and players, and where we may go from here. Our second major focus is what has been perhaps the hottest recent topic in Canadian gaming: the potential, finally, of major progress on sports betting in the country. With the progress of Bill C-218 to amend the Criminal Code to allow single-event sports betting north of the border – and give provinces license to shape their own markets – there is a f lurry of activity underway in Canada. We spoke to Toronto-based sports app and sportsbook theScore’s COO Benjie Levy about what this could mean for their home market, as well as chatting to operators and lottery corporations about what may lie on the path ahead for Canadian sports betting. As always, there’s also an update from the CGA themselves including news of their exciting CGA Academy initiative, and we profile three new association members who all have a keen interest in how the sports betting market may develop. Above all, we hope to see the Canadian gaming industry f lourish in 2021 and continue down the path to recovery. The future may not look the same as the past, but there’s so much to be excited and optimistic about. Tom Nightingale Managing Editor
Canadian Gaming Business | 5
Optimism and Opportunity in 2021 BY PAUL BURNS, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CANADIAN GAMING ASSOCIATION
THE PAST YEAR WAS A challenging one for gaming in Canada. While we hoped that the turn of the calendar would allow us to put COVID-19 in the rear-view mirror, the reality is that we are still facing closures and reduced operating environments for our land-based operators, which in some parts of the country will continue for the first half of 2021. The resilience that our industry has demonstrated is remarkable - the reconfiguring of business operations to manage closures, re-openings, and closures again - and show the strong leadership and dedication of employees and companies across the country. At the CGA , our advocac y work on behalf of our industry and our members took centre stage. When Canada’s gaming industry shut down last March, the CGA immediately pivoted into advocacy efforts to actively communicate with governments at the provincial and federal levels to ensure that support for our industry and its employees was available. Our efforts included: • Direct advocac y w ith the federal government for industry inclusion in the BDC Business Loan Program / extensions to the Canadian Employee Wage Subsidy (CEWS). • In Ontario, working with the CGAO, AGCO and OLG to develop an overarching health & safety framework to help safely reopen gaming facilities. • Holding webinars for the industry to learn about the latest cleaning products and technologies that could assist businesses to reopen safely. • Secured industry access to Rapid COVID-19 testing through a partnership with Victory Square Health. The CGA continues to advocate for government programs to help the industr y. It is a member of the Canadian 6 | Spring 2021
Chamber of Commerce’s Canadian Business Resilience Network and the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable, a national coalition of associations representing the hospitality, travel, tourism, entertainment and attraction sectors. We are still work ing to ensure government programs continue for the hardest-hit sectors. But we also have reason to be optimistic, because 2021 is full of opportunity on several fronts. The CGA’s ongoing pursuit of a legislative amendment to per mit single- event wager ing w ill hopefully be realized in 2021. Our work to build a broad coalition of support with labour, business, and sport and community organizations has kept the issue on the legislative agenda a nd ea r ned Bill C -218 , f irst int ro duced by K ev in Waugh, MP for Saskatoon-Greenwood last year, allparty support in the House of Commons. In February, by an overwhelming majority of 303-15, Bill C-218 was sent to the Standing Committee for Human Rights and Justice, where it was approved with an amendment on horse racing. It will be a busy year due to ongoing work with members of Parliament and various stakeholders, and near-constant efforts to keep the issue in the media spotlight. Sports betting will be a key priority for the CGA throughout 2021 as it will be a powerful tool to help the industry emerge from the impacts of COVID-19. The CGA continues to support the AGCO and government of Ontario as they move ahead with a licensing model to make internet gambling (iGaming) a reality in the province, and to ensure that the people of Ontario have access to safe and legal gambling options online. T he C G A’s Re g u l at or y I n nov at ion C om m it t e e developed regulator y standards for cashless wagering in land-based Canadian casinos in 2020 which are now available at canadiangaming.ca.
O V E R F L O W. . . . .
The committee was created as a platform for industry and gaming regulators to engage in two key areas: the adoption and utilization of emerging technologies; and on regulatory initiatives in the areas of harmonization and operational efficiency. It includes a cross-section of gaming industry representatives working with provincial gaming regulators and subject matter experts. The Re g u l at or y I n nov at ion C om m it t e e i s now work ing on spor t and event wagering st andards in anticipation of the legalization of single-event sports wagering later this year. As we move into 2021, the CGA remains focused on supporting our members by advocating for support, products and tools (such as Ontario iGaming and singleevent sports betting) to ensure our industry is able to help its employees and emerge from this crisis as a strong as possible. We launched CGA webinars in 2020 and will continue to offer them this year (watch for our Summit Series that will lead into a two-day virtual Canadian Summit in June) as we expect to have lots of news and information on Ontario iGaming and single-event sports betting to share with you. We hope to return to face-to-face networking later in 2021.
A fter many years of work the CGA was thrilled to launch the CGA Academy, the new education a nd training offering in partnership with iGaming Academy. A microsite is available on our website that will help you access a broad range of operational and compliance training and certification that is jurisdictionally relevant and kept up to date. We c o nt i nu e t o w elc o m e n e w m emb er s , a n d I e n c o u r a g e y o u t o c o n s i d e r m e m b e r s h ip i f y o u r organization has not done so yet, as we continue to be at the centre of issues affecting the gaming industr y. I invite anyone w ith questions about the Canadian gaming industr y, why Canada is a great place to do business, or how the association may be able to assist with business issues or objectives, to contact us directly. I look for wa rd to celebrat ing the re- open ing of Canada’s casinos and community gaming centres over the months to come, and the return to prosperity for our industry. Paul Burns President & CEO Canadian Gaming Association
H O S P I TA L I T Y
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Canadian Gaming Business | 7
CGA LAUNCHES CGA ACADEMY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH IGAMING ACADEMY
As part of the CGA’s commitment to expand services to the Canadian gaming industry, the association has partnered with the iGaming Academy to launch the CGA Academy, a full online training solution, including up-to-date compliance and skills training courses and a robust Learning Management System (LMS), all specialized for the gaming industry. THE ASSOCIATION has been planning this expansion into training for some time as part of its mandate, and has chosen to work with the iGaming Academy because of its focus on up-to-date content, customized solutions, and superior services. “As we pursue our mandate of education and advocacy, we are thrilled to partner with iGaming Academy to provide quality learning and development opportunities that have been designed specifically for the Canadian gaming industry,” said Paul Burns, President and CEO, CGA. “Having access to up-to-date and relevant training is important given the rapidly changing and increasingly technologydriven nature of our industry, and we look forward to expanding the CGA Academy over the years to come.” iGaming Academy, part of The Conexus Group, trains over 30,000 professionals every year across more than 100 companies in more than 45 countries. The company
8 | Spring 2021
specializes in industry-specific compliance and product eLearning and has extensive experience training professionals of all levels within online gaming, land-based casinos, lotteries, and betting shops. Training will be available in an interactive online format through the CGA Academy portal, and companies will have the option to create their own bespoke online learning portal from the ground up, with the ability to customise course selection, training variables and assign, track and easily report on employee progress. The collaboration will set a unified standard of gaming education across Ca n a d a cover i n g t opic s such a s Canadian Anti-Money Laundering, Sports Betting, COVID-19 Readiness, Responsible Gaming, CRM and many more. Staff will receive access through a training portal, via individual accounts. Cer tif icates w ill be available for
download upon successful completion of the training and assessments. “This collaboration w ith CGA offers operators in Canada a route to conformity through training with the relevant jurisdictional regulations,” added Ja mie Debono, M a na g ing Partner, iGaming Academy. “It’s also future-proofed, with any changes to regulation being applied directly to the training. We’re excited to be bringing a growing portfolio of training for learners in the region The CGA Academy will ensure that gaming companies in Canada can easily access high qualit y, reg ulator-approved training content year-round.” To arrange a consultation with iGaming Academy, or learn more about its partnership with Canadian Gaming A ssociation, contact Charles.email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org today.
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PAVING THE WAY FOR AN INCREASING CASHLESS FUTURE The Canadian Gaming Association’s regulatory Standards for Cashless Systems are the result of an industry-wide discussion about where gaming is headed. BY TOM NIGHTINGALE
10 | Spring 2021
GLY Given the large extent to which all corners of the Canadian gaming industry have been affected by COVID-19 in the last 12 months, it’s easy to forget that certain trends were seen before the onset of the pandemic.
Canadian Gaming Business | 11
One of the major shifts in casino gaming is the move towards an increasingly cashless way of operating. It’s a change that has been brought on by many things: similar technological movements in other industries, consumer demand for more flexibility in the way they gamble, and the new challenges brought on by a worldwide virus and extensive shutdowns. IDENTIFYING WHAT WAS NEEDED
For the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), it was already a priority. The CGA established a Regulatory Innovation Committee in 2019 to help the gaming industry identify and develop innovations for the sector in Canada. The Committee, consisting of a range of operators and regulators from across the country, recognized "cashless wagering systems" as a potential modernization which could enhance the customer's experiences in land-based facilities. As President and CEO Paul Burns explains, the creation of the standards came about thanks to the realization that consumer purchases were largely cashless, and that the industry would benefit from a common approach to do the same. “The fact is there’s a generational swing in terms of people carrying cash,” Burns explains. “We saw this was coming and as an industry, we should be able to get ahead of these trends and understand how we’re going to adopt them when they come.” Approaching it in the right way was important. The CGA is a collaborative organization and sought the input and feedback of the industry. That committee includes a wide cross-section of gaming industry representatives working with provincial gaming regulators and subject matter experts. It’s a treasure trove of expertise and insight, encompassing all ends of the spectrum of personnel who would be best placed to affect significant developments in the industry. Terry McInally, Chief Compliance and Information Officer for Gateway Casinos & Entertainment, stresses that this variety in committee participants is an important factor in producing standards that will stand up to scrutiny and light the path forward. “We’re not navel-gazing; it's not a bunch of operators or a bunch of manufacturers looking at this, everybody brings the good and the bad into the discussion. You have regulators bringing their point of view into the dialogue, operators explaining where it works and where it will be challenged. It’s imperative to have that type of broad, nationwide group.” COLLABORATION WAS KEY
McInally was just one of the many experts on the committee. 12 | Spring 2021
He is appreciative of the committee’s efforts when discussing the straight path that the CGA followed. He cites the committee as a hugely productive tool for ensuring the achievement of industry goals and cooperation between all participants. “There’s always open dialogue, it’s very transparent,” McInally says. “We all reviewed the material, the draft standards were formed, and we then go through multiple iterations of discussion, comments, feedback to get to a point where we have agreement on how they should and would be structured. There’s no stone left unturned by the time we get to the final product.” The CGA put out the draft standards for industry comment in the late spring of 2020 to obtain feedback and suggestions. Those discussions were key, emphasizes Burns. “We wanted to understand the industry’s rationale when it came to where technology is going to take us. We held consultations with the responsible gaming community, with FINTRAC, and so forth to ensure the standards reflect the latest regulations and give operators the flexibility to implement technology as quickly but also as responsibly and safely as they can.” As the process continued, the CGA and the committee watched keenly as Nevada and other U.S. jurisdictions started to adopt their own cashless frameworks. “We saw then that (cashless wagering) was going to be expedited,” says Burns. HIGH PRAISE
Ultimately, the industry has ended up with a thorough and complete framework for implementing cashless wagering in Canada. The standards – and the way in which the CGA went about achieving them – are getting glowing reviews from industry leaders who participated in the process. Darren Simmons, Executive Vice President and FinTech Business Leader at Everi, was a co-chair of the Regulatory Innovation Committee for this project. He stresses that one of his company’s primary focuses has been trying to educate customers on what cashless actually means and the implications of the pivot. He praises the standards as an excellent foundation for operators to work from. “Having some base for the regulators and operators to understand the actual meaning and implications of cashless wagering is so important,” Simmons says. Ryan Reddy, Vice President of VLT, Systems, and Payments Products at IGT, was glowing in his assessment of the process. “What we really appreciate about the Canadian marketplace is that it tends to be a very pragmatic and collaborative environment,” Reddy acknowledges. “The transparency in developing the
coverstory standards, and in the finished product, is wonderful. We wanted to make sure we gave uniform and holistic comprehensive responses to the CGA for their guidelines and their framework.” Stewart Groumoutis, Director of eGaming at the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, emphasizes that the CGA’s standards are all about sharing best practices, from industry personnel learning from each other. “Any sustained endeavour to bring commonality and understanding to both players and operators of what to expect and how to execute effectively should be welcomed. It’s a fantastic initiative.” Burns, for his part, voices his gratitude for the number of people who took part in the development, and the deep consideration they gave to it. “The willingness of so many amazing people to contribute was tremendous and it’s produced a really great piece of work. The project was overwhelmingly well-received. We saw from everyone that appreciation of the thoroughness completeness of the document and the proactiveness of the committee.” The standards were built upon work done in the industry at large but Burns stresses the “Canadianization” of the document was important. “It’s exciting to think what more we can do with this group in future projects.” DRIVEN BY CONSUMER DEMAND
The standards are now available for implementation across Canada. Their goal is to eliminate subjective criteria when analyzing and certifying cashless systems and provide a baseline of commonality across the provinces. In addition, to introduce cashless wagering fairly, securely, and in a way that is properly regulated. Jurisdictions in Canada now have a basis from which they can build their own regulatory standards or adopt the committee’s framework. Burns says the standards are there to serve as a tool for regulators, operators, and technology providers to be able to better tailor products to the Canadian market. At a time when everyone in the industry is seriously challenged when it comes to costs and resources given the impact of the pandemic, the aim is to help the industry thrive and move forward. “The past year has shown that we as an industry need to look at the ways we do business and be more innovative. This contributes hugely to that (goal).” The undeniable fact is that the world is mov ing increasingly towards cashless operation across a range of industries. In an increasingly technological world, the gaming industry had to keep up. “Cashless wagering has relevance outside gaming as well,” says McInally. He adds that he provided information from banking sectors and similar areas to the committee that illustrated clearly where and how this t y pe of technological innovation had started to move forward. “Consumers are increasingly looking for these options,” Burns continues. “It’s crucial that the industry not be behind the curve when it comes to this demand and educating people that they can adopt these technologies.” Ultimately, he says, it comes down to the fact that being able to offer these tools for alternative payment to cash is very important. “Every business is dealing with this issue.” All in all, the consensus seems to be that cashless offerings and adoption in the Canadian gaming industry is long overdue. “Unfortunately, it hasn't gotten the momentum historically that is should have,” laments Groumoutis. “Now, the reality is the world has changed. In these trying times, when you think
about the high-touch environments of casinos and use of cash, we definitely owe it to customers.” “Terminology changes, requirements change, so having a standard is critical for moving forward,” says Simmons. “In layered marketplaces like Canada, there’s certainly a mounting demand. You have to respond to the fact that people want technology, but you have to also balance that with what regulators and operators are trying to provide to their customers.” THE PANDEMIC ACCELERANT
The desire from consumers to see more cashless technology implemented has been a pre-existing driver for change, but one thing COVID-19 has done is bring other factors into the equation. Against the backdrop of the pandemic, McInally emphasizes that things have changed unpredictably and potentially irreversibly. “I think now the consumer has a heightened awareness of the cashless issue,” McInally says. “It can’t go unnoticed that COVID-19 has caused many people to not want to touch cash in the same way; they’ve got so accustomed to tapping a credit card that these types of options just have become second nature. In many aspects, we will never go back again in that regard. They’ve had extensive exposure of this across many environments, from gaming to online shopping. There’s also the convenience aspect: with the increasing advent of digital wallets and all-inone solutions, cash can get in the way. These standards give our industry the wide ability to start to talk through the technological options available, see how these would work in different environments, and refine how we engage customers properly to inform and educate them on how they can use this technology.” Safety, too, is an increasing concern, with all operators focusing on infection prevention and control. Customer demand for more contactless experiences has increased as people look for safer ways to transact purchases, and the standards will provide a method for digital transactions which significantly diminishes the need for customers and employees to physically touch areas and items, enabling a healthier and safer operating environment. What was already a pressing issue has become an even more substantial point of discussion and progress for the industry. MOVING FORWARD TOGETHER
That’s not to say that cash will disappear overnight. For many customers, particularly older generations, the feeling of cash is a comfort, a familiarity that they will not want to abandon. Not everyone will naturally gravitate to the shift to cashless, but what is important is that those options are available, visible, and controllable with the CGA’s Standards for Cashless Systems. “I think cash will always have a place in every business, including gaming,” says Burns. “But being able to give consumers wide options and tools is important. We’re an industry driven by excellent customer service so being able to provide the customer with what they want when they want is vital. That’s really why it was such a priority for us.” Thanks to the CGA and the collaboration of the industry, Canada now has a thorough, responsible, set of standards. It’s an increasingly cashless world, and Canadian gaming is keeping pace. A copy of the Standards for Cashless Systems can be downloaded on the CGA’s website. CGB thanks Terry McInally, Darren Simmons, Ryan Reddy, and Stewart Groumoutis for their contributions to this story. Canadian Gaming Business | 13
IS CASH STILL KING? The Canadian Gaming Association’s Standards for Cashless Systems BY CHANTAL A. CIPRIANO & SHRUTI JOSHI
Cashless gaming options are one step closer to becoming a reality in Canada. After engaging in a lengthy analysis and drafting process over the summer, the Canadian Gaming Association (“CGA”) recently released its Standards for Cashless Systems (the “Standards”).
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The purpose of the Standards is to provide a framework to implement cashless systems that would allow players to participate in wagering activities using an approved and secure method. In order to achieve this objective, the Standards provide basic minimum requirements with respect to cashless systems and devices, as well as player accounts requirements. The Standards do not specify any particular methods, algorithms or technology, but rather are drafted in a manner that allows for a variety of methods to be used to conform to the guidelines. Not only does this flexibility encourage new methods to be developed in the future, but this also allows for new and creative ideas to be explored, and provides an opportunity for the gaming industry to expand to include new virtual entrants. THE STANDARDS
Implementing cashless payment systems in casinos has been a discussion point over the years, both in Canada and abroad, primarily in an attempt to tackle the on-going issue of money laundering in casinos. The Standards recognize how internal control systems such as monitoring anti-money laundering efforts are continually evolving, and therefore highlight that such guidelines should not be incorporated into the Standards, but rather be included within the regulatory framework of each province. Although the CGA and Canada’s gaming industry as a whole work closely with the Financial Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre of Canada to ensure suspicious transactions and large cash transactions are reported for analysis and will continue to do so, the Standards provide an additional safeguard to ensure compliance with various regulations across the provinces. From a player perspective, cashless systems provide levels of convenience and securit y that traditional cash wagering simply cannot match. Higherdollar players would be able to engage in gaming without having to carry large sums of cash and can rest assured their
money is safe without foregoing their own personal safety. This would also be beneficial to casinos from an operating and security perspective by reducing cash handling costs as well as the safety and security risks associated with having large amounts of cash on the premises. The Standards also outline guidelines to mitigate concerns surrounding cashless gaming such as excessive and irresponsible gambling, without causing player disruptions or disputes. Taking into consideration the endeavours of the Responsible Gambling Council, the Standards require that any cashless t ra nsaction that would exceed a predetermined limit will only be processed if the player is clearly notified that they have received or deposited less than requested. With the novel COVID-19 pandemic and its infectious nature forcing gaming establishments to close across the world, the contactless benefits of cashless gaming have been highlighted during discussions regarding the reopening phase of casinos. Between the amount of cash and chip handling, touchpoints on instant-play machines and high turnover on table seating, cashless gaming systems would help reduce the spread of infectious germs amongst staff and players. This would also be beneficial in reducing the spread of other contagious illnesses such as the common cold and flu, which are ailments that we continue to battle with each year. OTHER JURISDICTIONS
Cashless gaming options are already being successfully explored in other jurisdictions, for both casino and online operators. On October 13, 2020, International Game Technology PLC announced that it is launching its Resort Wallet, a cashless solution at the Resorts World Catskills Casino and Resort in Monticello, New York. The Resort Wallet allows patrons to engage in a cashless gaming experience by using their physical club card to load cash into a secure digital wallet, from either the casino cashier or any slot machine, and access those funds from any slot machine. Similarly,
on October 26, 2020, Boyd Gaming announced that it had partnered with Aristocrat Technologies to develop a cashless gaming experience for patrons at the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City, Indiana. Blue Chip patrons can visit the cashier’s cage to deposit money onto their loyalty card and play the slot machines without any physical cash. Although players can only use the card to play slots at the moment, the goal is for players to eventually be able to buy chips for table games as well as use their card at the resort’s restaurants and other retail shops. Perhaps most notable is Swedishgaming operator Svenska Spel’s launch of its cashless gaming option earlier this year, which allows players to draw funds directly from their bank account to play their favourite online games. What is particularly unique about Svenska Spel’s cashless option is its ability to re-deposit any unused funds back into a player’s bank account after the player has decided to stop gameplay. Not only does this product allow players to engage in convenient online gaming, but it also promotes responsible gambling, which could set a new standard for online gaming operators. CONCLUSION
It is clear that the gaming industry is quickly pivoting to implementing cashless gaming options in order to allow players a more convenient gaming experience, both in person and virtually. Such a change in the Canadian market provides an exciting opportunity for new and existing gaming operators to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in traditional casino operations, as well as the online gambling industry that is projected to be worth over US$127 billion by 20271. Having processed over $35 billion in online gaming and sports betting transactions 2 , Mazooma is excited and ready to embrace this industry development. Chantal A. Cipriano is the Senior Director of Legal & Compliance with Mazooma. Shruti Joshi is Junior Legal Counsel with Mazooma.
1 Online Gambling Market Size Worth $127.3 Billion By 2027, April 2020 www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-online-gambling-market 2 “Why Mazooma?” Mazooma http://us.mazooma.com/why-mazooma/ Canadian Gaming Business | 15
MOVING WITH THE TIMES COVID-19 has accelerated the trend towards increased digitized gaming options, and industry giants are helping drive the change. It ’s a ch a n g i n g world r i g ht now, a nd t he g a m i n g industry is no different. Gaming has been hit hard by closures and falling revenues during COV ID-19. The stark reality is that even once things are under control and we can begin to ret u r n to a for m of “nor m a l ”, t h i n g s w ill look strik ingly different than they did pre-pandemic. In some ways, gaming will never be the same again. W hile there have been notable negative repercussions, the pa ndemic is a lso play ing a role in accelerating innovation within the industr y. How customers gamble and the options that are available to them are evolving at a fast rate. The indust r y wa s already shifting pre-pa ndemic towards exploring and employing more technological advancements, including cashless options for playing. Pa r t of t h is wa s t he g a m ing indust r y ’s at tempt to keep up with wider social trends, with the population looking for more convenient, easy, and eff icient ways
t o conduc t t r a n s a c t ion s. C OV I D -19 h a s b e en a n accelerant in that regard, as that trend was magnif ied by new safety concerns. In rea lit y, this is the direct ion g a ming ha s been g o i n g i n fo r s o m e t i m e . T h e C a n a d i a n G a m i n g A sso c i at ion’s St a nd a rd s for Ca sh le ss Sy st em s – a concer t e d , col l a b or at i ve, i ndu st r y-w ide ef for t t o provide a thorough framework for cashless wagering – recognize that we embrace technolog y in our daily lives, especially when it comes to paying for things. C a n a d i a n G a m i n g B u s i n e s s s p o k e t o i n du s t r y g i a nt s E v e r i , I nt e r n a t i o n a l G a m i n g Te ch n o l o g y (IGT), and Scientif ic Games about the industry-wide trend towards cashless. All three companies had been working on this prior to the onset of COV ID-19, and they discussed the impact the pandemic has had, the cashless options they already offer to consumers, and how this technolog y may help the Canadian gaming industry.
These interviews have been edited for length and clarity. Participants:
Kathiravan Palanisamy, Senior Director, Software Engineering at Scientific Games:
16 | Spring 2021
Ryan Reddy, IGT Vice President of VLT, Systems, and Payments Products at IGT:
Darren Simmons, Executive Vice President and FinTech Business Leader, at Everi:
HOW MUCH HAS THE DEVELOPING TREND TOWARDS CASHLESS GAMING BEEN DRIVEN BY CONSUMER DEMAND?
Kathiravan Palanisamy, Senior Director, Software Engineering at Scientific Games: “Digital payments are a big part of everyday lives for
many consumers, even those less proficient with digital tools. Based on recent surveys, we now see strong consumer demand for digital payment solutions for wagering.”
Ryan Reddy, IGT Vice President of VLT, Systems, and Payments Products at IGT: “Especially within North America, we’ve been seeing
consumers naturally gravitating towards cashless options in all industries. In the gaming space, that natural trend is now crossing over. End users are accustomed to having this in Starbucks; now, they want to see it in their casinos. One conclusion we find consistently is that offering contactless payments is now a deciding factor for players.” Darren Simmons, Executive Vice President and FinTech Business Leader, at Everi: “The reality is that this technology has been out there
forever. It may not yet be prevalent in North America but in jurisdictions like Europe, cashless has been very common. These channels give operators and regulators greater engagement and the ability to deliver the important things. A lot of this can be automated as you move towards digital, and that is a large driver behind it. Consumers want technology.”
HOW HAS COVID-19 ACCELERATED THE MOVE TOWARDS CASHLESS?
Simmons: “The pandemic has pivoted the conversation and made it that much more urgent. There are some safety concerns such as the need for social distancing and the desire among segments of the population to avoid having as much in-person interaction. There was talk of physical cash being problematic from a health and safety standpoint, but that was refuted largely by the WHO and the CDC. For our business right now, cash is still playing a significant role. The reality, though, is that the move towards digital is gathering pace and has a number of benefits.” Palanisamy: “Consumer adaption of mobile payment methods
for online and social commerce has increased significantly since the onset of COVID-19. We were ready to bring our cashless solutions to the floor as the pandemic accelerated interest in them dramatically. We’ve seen increased demand across the globe, including in Canada, and recently rolled out our cashless solution at a few of our customer sites.”
Reddy: “Initially, this trend was about push rather than pull
in that we as suppliers were going to operators and making the case, researching it with players, and pushing it forward.
COVID-19 has changed that. It’s become much more of a pull. Customers are increasingly likely to lean towards casinos that offer contactless payments because they’re getting much more comfortable with this as a means of payment and interacting with goods and services. It also fits well with social distancing, as you don’t have to stand in line at an ATM or a kiosk for cash like you used to. Interactions that might have been challenging in a socially distanced environment now are much easier because you’re able to do these things on your mobile.”
WHAT ARE THE MAIN DISTINGUISHING FEATURES OF THE CASHLESS OFFERINGS YOU CURRENTLY PROVIDE?
Reddy: “With this part of the business, I think you see a lot of synergy across our different product verticals. Historically, we’ve had carded cashless in a number of places around the world. A few years ago, we introduced on the casino systems land-based side our Cardless Connect product in a number of properties. We also instituted our proprietary payments gateway to external funding, IGT Pay, as far back as 2013, specifically in digital and sports betting and some lottery segments. We felt like the true tipping point came in adding external funding to the equation: access to sources like banks, credit cards, debit cards, etc. We also have a robust capability in terms of payments and a lot of the back-office activities that we were providing for digital customers, which can be ported into different spaces. The real synergy was in bringing these pieces together and making IGT a turnkey full-service cashless provider. Our offering now to the market is our traditional Resort Wallet cashless product plus IGT Pay for external funding, plus all of the services that go with it.” Simmons: “We currently have some solutions live in casinos
including CashClub Wallet, our fully cashless integrated mobile solution. Cashless has been present in Europe for some time, but what hadn’t really been done was attaching a cashless wagering system to some external funding source. Our FinTech business has now also added self-service hardware devices, full-service kiosks that manage the TITO technology we have today. We also got into the anti-money laundering (AML) compliance business as well as loyalty offerings like promotion and enrolment for players’ clubs. It’s very exciting for us. Casino operators just want to know how they can become cashless, but you need to take into account all of these things because they all affect one another. We didn’t want to suddenly drop something new externally into their environment; instead, we leverage the existing infrastructure we provide within our ecosystem of products and services to build in all these services. Settling transactions, AML compliance tools, aggregating transactions, providing loyalty and promotional players’ club aspects. It’s just an extension of a lot of what we’re providing today.” Canadian Gaming Business | 17
Palanisamy: “Our Unified Wallet powers a cashless gaming
experience by giving players the power to instantly access funds through a mobile app. The cashless wallet also includes loyalty club registration among a variety of player-centric transactions that are all easily and conveniently accessible. We also offer a proximity-sense Bluetooth card reader at slots, meaning physical player cards are optional. It provides a truly contactless experience by starting the session, funding the game, and depositing credits from the machine back to the wallet directly from the mobile app. Players can choose how they want to fund the wallet and access it at slot, tables, and other points of play and we’ve seen a great response both from our customers and players.”
integrates with these systems so players can have a digital wallet profile with stored credentials, such as how, where, and when you want to access your funds. We also provide the ability to move the money into the gaming system and vice versa. It’s bi-directional. There’s a safety and responsible gaming aspect of it, too. Having all of these core foundations integrated together allows us to address all the things that people sometimes don’t contemplate. This is gaming and there are always security and data privacy concerns. You also need to think of responsible gaming. We don’t want people gaming who should not be, if they’re at risk. It also creates transparency, removes the anonymity of cash by creating an electronic trail. So, it checks a lot of boxes. Having this omnichannel solution, a single repository and digital wallet, is so useful and very powerful.”
HOW DO YOUR OFFERINGS BENEFIT CUSTOMERS AND END USERS?
Reddy: “IGT is uniquely positioned in that we offer end-to-end
cashless, from the external funding over to the game and back, in a turnkey solution that’s fully integrated with our CMS. There are many advantages to that, as we see them. From the consumer perspective, if you already have a loyalty card with the property, you can use that same card all the way through the transaction. We're calling it ‘one step’ or ‘one account’. A second part is that all the loyalty bonusing aspects can be integrated in our end-toend offering so the data we collect from bonusing and rewards is fully shared. We can offer bonuses specifically to cashless players or external funding players. As an end-to-end provider, we have a substantial advantage over e-wallet providers that may only see part of the transaction or offer products stitched together with CMS providers, because we have a one-step solution and are a single end-to-end provider.”
Palanisamy: “For our Canadian operators, Unified Wallet is a key component in a gaming experience focused on keeping players and employees safe. It offers a frictionless experience and enables greater efficiency on the business side. For example, this technology can eliminate lines at ATMs or at the cage, create efficiencies with mobile-first operations, and reduce costs like bill validator and ticket printer maintenance, tickets, and redemption kiosks. It also offers great benefits for players: a single place to access funds that can be used across a resort or property. Then there’s the safety and security aspects: eliminating the need to handle cash or stand in line at the cage. You no longer need to worry about remembering to bring your player card to the casino. Players are excited about the convenience of not carrying cash, the ability to access their digital wallet at the point of play, the security of the wallet, and ease of use.” Simmons: “We view our offerings as self-service. We’ve integrated these technologies so operators have all these mission-critical tools that can interact together. By attaching a cashless wagering system to some external funding source, we provide the technology that
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HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF MOVING FORWARD IN THE CANADIAN MARKET? Palanisamy: “The next step for us is moving forward with operators as things keep moving forward. We are in a position where we’re more than ready to field test in the market. Given the interest level we see from our customers and the positive response from their patrons and end users, we expect an accelerated adoption of our cashless solution in 2021 and beyond.” Reddy: “This is not a business where we see cash going away anytime soon, particularly in the commercial casino space: it will be a complementary offering for now as part of a gradual shift. Our hope is that, through bonusing and loyalty incentives to cashless players, we and operators can create an incentive for players to hasten the adoption of it. It’s not a big process for us to have that type of conversation with an operator – we’re ready to go. I don't anticipate there would be a big ramp-up because of how well-positioned we are.” Simmons: “We work in jurisdictions that have the regulatory infrastructure already to adopt and implement these systems. It varies by jurisdiction and company – it’s not one-size-fits-all – but layering the digital aspects on top of these foundational products and services makes adoption pretty simple. In Canada, we’ve had a number of conversations with operators, jurisdictions, and provincial bodies about furthering cashless. Some components of this will be revolutionary and some evolutionary. Typically, operators will require upgrades to their systems/hardware and the regulations and systems in place to actually implement and deliver it at tables. We could respond very quickly from our end, so they could see it and feel it and test it. The technology is fairly straightforward and intuitive. The systems providers we work with have done a pretty good job of creating a good user experience. Now, it’s just a case of tying together “traditional” online and brick-and-mortar. It’s an exciting time for us and the entire industry.”
BETTING ON HOME ADVANTAGE
With one of North America’s leading sportsbooks in hand, theScore is laying plans for the possibilities offered by potential legalized single-event sports betting. BY TOM NIGHTINGALE
theScore Chief Operating Officer Benjie Levy is animated when discussing where sports betting might go in Canada. “WE'RE TREMENDOUSLY excited by what we've achieved so far and what we think we're going to be able to do going forward in our home country,” says Levy. “More than that, though: this is an astronomical opportunity for the entire Canadian market.” That opinion voiced by Levy, who runs the day-to-day operations of Canada’s number one digital sports media brand, is one being echoed from all corners of the Canadian gaming industry. U.S. SUCCESS
As sports betting legislation continues to be debated in parliament with all-party support and a wave of momentum behind it, the opportunities are clear if you look at what’s been happening south of the border. Around half of U.S. states now offer some form of legal sports betting, with several taking steps forward just last fall. The success sports wagering has seen is huge, with exponential growth. 20 | Spring 2021
THESCORE HAS BEEN PREPARING.
The company’s mobile sportsbook, theScore Bet, was the first to launch in North America and currently operates in four states – New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana, and Iowa – after launching first in New Jersey in September 2019. The company has a 20-year partnership deal with Penn National Gaming which gives them market access to offer online and mobile sports betting and iGaming applications in the 11 states where Penn National operates casinos and racetracks. “Our experience to date in our U.S. markets has reinforced our view that you have to stand for something: you have to be differentiated, you have to be product-led, you have to give consumers something that's compelling and different,” emphasizes Levy. “Our current operations are just the start. We have a significant market access footprint through our deal with Penn National. As states come online, both within that footprint with
Penn and beyond, we're looking to be active participants in that market. Even with states accelerating their consideration of sports betting, we’re still in the first inning of what this is going to be.” INTEGRATING BETTING AND SPORTS MEDIA
A recurring topic in recent times, with the exponential growth of sports betting in the U.S. and as a prelude to what may come in Canada, has been how sportsbooks and operators can integrate betting and sports media in a single channel. Adding single-event wagers to the current offering of parlay wagers in Canada is one thing, evolving real-time capabilities to combine the betting and the viewing experiences is something else entirely. “Our legacy is approaching sports in a different way,” explains Levy. “We've always looked to cover sports from the perspective of the fan and we've always been open and authentic about gambling as being an integral part of the sports
experience. We’re not recent converts to the idea of gambling being a part of sports; it has been a part of sport since the beginning of sports.” For theScore, a key directive has been presenting users with something truly different, taking traditional betting concepts and integrating them into fans’ media experience. “We didn’t want to just create another standalone betting platform where people are betting and we’re trying to keep them engaged,” says Levy. “No, for us, it’s the opposite: we want to bring the bet to where the users are. We want to have such a deep integration between the two that you’re living in the media app, following your teams and players, building your bet slips, and following your markets. When you have to bet, you head over to the betting platform, place your bet, and then you go right back into your experience. It’s a totally different way of thinking about it.” That concept is what the company launched in New Jersey. It’s now a multistate operator with a single app and a traveling wallet - a single account infrastructure. Levy cites that as crucial to the platform’s success. VAST CANADIAN POTENTIAL
In the U.S., theScore Bet has to compete with industry giants like DraftKings, FanDuel, and William Hill. Behind the scenes, numerous operators and providers are preparing attempts to establish a market leadership position. While many similarities will be drawn and lessons will be learned from south of the border, Canada is a different country, where gaming is regulated provinceby-province, and the provinces will be making the decisions on how singleevent sports betting is offered within their borders. Ontario, where the Levy family’s company has its Toronto headquarters, is the fifth-largest jurisdiction in North America by population, behind four U.S. states. Not only that, but the province – particularly the expansive, Golden Horseshoe and the nation’s capital of Ottawa – is packed full of sports fans. Canada will always be f irst and foremost hockey country.
The Leafs and Senators are ingrained into Ontario culture, and the Toronto Raptors’ thrilling victory with the 2019 NBA Championship captivated the entire country. “As excited as we are about the U.S. opportunities, Canada is a totally different game,” acknowledges Levy. “When we think about Canadian opportunity, we are just tremendously excited by what it presents. The Canadian market is going to be huge. Ontario is going to be the biggest online gaming jurisdiction in North America, in our view.” Levy believes theScore Bet will be in “pole position, with the strongest sports media brand and an amazing technolog y platform.” The brand has clear advantages over most of its competitors – a ubiquitous brand and a highly engaged and loyal user base – should sports betting in Canada advance anywhere near the same as the U.S.” Lev y is thrilled by the progress being made from the perspective of the Ontarian and Canadian gaming markets on the whole. “It’s just so, so massive for the iGaming and sports betting industry in general,” he continues. He praises the provincial governments – particularly Ontario, which he says “really got the ball
rolling” – for taking a forward-looking, progressive view on how to structure and set up the market. Many elements still have to be finalized. “But what’s been done to date, both federally and provincially, encouraging a broad-based competitive market, is tremendous.” Indeed, Lev y shares the view that this kind of progress in sports betting should give the Canadian gaming industry new life. “With the number of people and the amount of money involved in betting on sports for years in offshore capacities, the demand is clearly there,” concludes Levy. Canadian bettors are thought to spend around $10 billion per year on singleevent betting through illegal bookies and a further $4 billion on international betting websites, according to the Canadian Gaming Association. “Regulation will bring that demand out into the open and ensure it's done in a responsible way with renewed protections for responsible gaming and KYC and AML,” Levy notes. “We think the market is just going to flourish in that environment, with responsible operators working hand-in-hand with governments to deliver creative and compelling solutions. We can’t wait to see it thrive and to be a core part of it.” Canadian Gaming Business | 21
A LONG TIME COMING From player protection to COVID-19 recovery, sports betting legislation is a logical and overdue move for the Canadian market. BY TOM NIGHTINGALE
22 | Spring 2021
It feels like Canada may be on the cusp of something monumental when it comes to sports betting. A BILL WITH THE purpose of amending the Criminal Code to allow single-event sports wagers – the Private Member’s Bill C-218 – is heading to a third House of Commons reading with overwhelming cross-party support. This time around, it looks like this progress may affect real and lasting change. We’ve been here before. The difference today is that not only does the potential legalization of single-event sports betting have support form all major parties and major sports leagues, but Canada has an example of success in the U.S. Around half of American states now have some form of legal sports wagering, and the growth – both in terms of jurisdictions and revenue streams for operators and governments – has been exponential. In short, the market has exploded. North of the border, only parlay betting has been legal for some time. Allowing provinces to introduce singles wagers and regulate their own markets would equal a quantum leap forward. Such is the optimism that Canada will move forward, the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) and its Regulatory Innovation Committee has moved on from refining its Standards for Cashless Systems to focusing on building sport and event wagering standards in anticipation of the legalization of singleevent sports wagering. Across the country, gaming operators, sportsbooks, regulators, and everyone in between is gearing up for a new market that could open up in the near future. “I don't think people realize just how hard the gaming industry has been hit by COVID-19,” says Gateway Casinos & Entertainment’s Chief Compliance and Information Officer, Terry McInally. “As one of Canada’s largest casino operators, we’ve haven’t had a single site in B.C. open since last March. It’s been a tough slog, so when you see something like this show up, you're pretty excited.” HELPING THE INDUSTRY RECOVER
Not least among those benefits is the fact that the CGA estimates that billions of dollars are currently going to illegal and offshore operators. Opening up the legal single-event wager market would bring much of that back into the hands of an industry which has struggled desperately during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The size of the market is contingent on how much you can bring out of the grey market,” says McInally. “The grey market has always operated, it's always been there and not particularly well-enforced. So, really, this would be a path provided to operators from grey into a legalized white market, and then that opens up the size of the market for everybody to operate within.” Gateway, of course, is far from the only operator that will be watching on keenly. They are one of numerous cross-province operators, and there are also province-specific organizations like
the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) that stand to be heavily impacted. Zane Hansen, President and CEO, notes that SIGA’s non-profit status means it – and Saskatchewan on the whole – is suffering a huge “missed opportunity” with bettors’ dollars going elsewhere. “This is where the proceeds from gaming drive the biggest impact – supporting beneficiary initiatives, programs, community needs outside our own corporate job and economic creation,” says Hansen. “Single-game sports betting has the potential to provide that opportunity with the benefits going back into our communities, charities, and support an increased labour force in the gaming industry.” For lottery corporations, too, this is of huge significance at a time when the gaming industry is struggling to stay afloat. Revenues have shrunk and margins have become thinner. Coupled with the fact that Canadian bettors have high visibility to the blossoming U.S. market, Stewart Groumoutis, Director of eGaming at BCLC, sees enhanced sports betting as a bright light at the end of the recent dark tunnel. “This legislation is long overdue,” Groumoutis says. “Since the last time around, with U.S. sports betting flourishing in its early stages, the Canadian industry and sports leagues have recognized how they can benefit from it. It’s extremely important that the funds return to the provinces where they're generated. Currently, with players forced to bet on illegal sites, funds and jobs don't go back to benefit the provinces. This is an opportunity to repatriate that play, those jobs, and make sure that gambling that occurs in a province benefits that province, its operators, and its consumers.” ENSURING RESPONSIBLE GAMING IS AVAILABLE
The CGA noted in its white paper on single-event sports betting that “there is a need to address issues that will be specific to the implementation of sport and event wagering standards, such as match fixing/integrity of data, sharing data across jurisdictional lines, and marketing and the offering of odds.” Another highly important issue to be considered is that, with so many consumers currently getting their sports betting kicks through illegal or offshore means, sports wagering is not being regulated to the extent that it should be. It is impossible to ensure responsible gambling is taking place when a large chunk of the betting is not occurring in-country. “With the provinces, you can rest assured the best intentions are there,” says Groumoutis. “The intention is to generate revenue and benefit the provinces but not at the expense of people. An extensive legal market offers extremely strong safeguards around player health and responsible gambling that are closely scrutinized and well understood by the provinces themselves. Legislation would bring sports betting Canadian Gaming Business | 23
“Since last time around, with U.S. sports betting flourishing, the Canadian industry and sports leagues have recognized how they can benefit.” back under the legal umbrella where players can be protected.” The importance of ensuring that players are protected is paramount. Groumoutis explains that due to the constraints of Canada’s current sports betting market, sports gambling is comparatively under-represented in research. “When you look at responsible gambling and player health research, there’s definitely not the extensive research that you see for casino gambling,” he says. “People need to be aware this is quite new and we need a concerted effort across the entire industry to improve our knowledge and understanding of that. With sports, there’s a number of emotional aspects and peer pressure: all these nuances that must be researched, understood, and acted upon if we’re to do this without social harms.” From BCLC’s perspective, he cites the influx of new players on the corporation’s PlayNow platform who have moved online due to the mass closure of land-based facilities. “We’ve had to take extra steps to ensure we’re educating those players and ensuring they have the support they need. Single-event sports would push that need even further.” LAYING FOUNDATIONS
Canada is still some way away from moving forward with sports betting offerings. The latest step would see the Criminal Code amended to legalize single-event sports betting. Beyond that, it would be up to the provinces to decide how to move forward. Progress, and the exact direction of the steps taken, would vary from province to province. McInally, for one, hopes that by the end of 2021, some of the first bets may be laid either through iGaming or sports betting platforms. Though that is a way down the road, operators and technology providers are moving the pieces into place right now. A key hope is that fair market access is granted, and that Canadian operators and companies may get some advantages. “The government must see an industry that has been hit extremely hard by COVID-19 and that has put billions of dollars into the economy over the years,” says McInally. “We hope that’s considered so that when this new market opens up, operators like Gateway have a fair shake at engaging.” That is echoed by Scott Burton, CEO of sportsbook and technology provider FansUnite, one of several companies with a focus on sports betting that have joined the CGA in recent months. “We hope companies like us will be asked to be involved more in the process as it goes forward. We’ve spent years getting prepared and now, it’s just a case of making sure there’s an opportunity for companies like ours that aren’t massive overseas business to reap the rewards.” In order to maximize the potential benefits, traditional brickand-mortar operators like SIGA would be willing to pivot, too. Saskatchewan is the last province without an official online gaming platform, and Hansen says sports betting progress could help drive this transition. He emphasizes that harmonizing a 24 | Spring 2021
unique sports betting experience within land-based casinos and an online platform is a “landmark milestone on (SIGA’s) radar.” In essence, SIGA and others want to make sure they can be there to provide a full-service offering to their eager sports betting customers. A WAITING AUDIENCE
After all, the biggest certainty is that the audience exists and is ready for the opportunities seen in both the U.S. and Europe. Another Super Bowl recently passed by and Canadians were still unable to place a simple single bet on the winner through legal Canadian means. Like the U.S., Canada is a country full of punters. Ontario represents one of the biggest sports betting markets in North America, and the provincial government is currently making efforts to establish a more open iGaming market which would go hand-in-hand with the progression of federal sports wagering legislation. It stands to reason that all Canadians provinces are getting ready to hit the ground running if and when Canada gets to the point where single-event sports betting can move forward. “Most important is that players want this,” stresses Groumoutis. “They want to able to place a legal single-event sports bet whether through retail, at their local casino, online – however they see fit. We're seeing that significant culture shift around sports betting, so the renewed push to legalize single-event couldn't be more timely. The Canadian gaming industry needs to be responding to that: if we aren't there to serve these customers who are being inundated with sports betting coverage from the U.S. and abroad, they will be pushed further into the arms if the illegal market. That’s where the harm is done.” The possibility of legislation has not gone unnoticed by some of the biggest sports betting companies in the world. theScore is making plans to move forward in its home market, and U.S. giants are taking big steps, like DraftKings’ recent extension of its NFL partnership into Canada. Recent CGA members like FansUnite, BetRegal, and Kambi already operate in major European markets such as the UK and see the Canadian market as a potential goldmine of opportunity. “I think legislation is a required step to have any outside operator be interested in Canada,” says Burton. “If operators continue to be told they can’t offer single-event betting or other f lexibility, the appetite might not be there, and the sports betting industry is likely to stagnate. Provinces need to be allowed to give consumers more and better choice on where they’re betting, and we’d also obviously like to see homegrown companies like ourselves be able to thrive in our home markets. If a big motivation is tax revenue, it just makes so much sense, for that reason and many others.” For now, it is a case of watching this space and seeing how things develop. Canada is a countr y hungr y for sports betting opportunities, and the industry doesn’t want to be left behind.
The online sportsbook and casino is excited for what’s to come in 2021 after joining the Canadian Gaming Association. When it comes to the potential growth of sports betting in Canada this year and beyond, Canadian operators are looking to position themselves at the front of the queue.
BETREGAL, THE LATEST member of the CGA, is no different. “We’re salivating at the idea of taking on our home market,” BetRegal’s Head of Marketing Aly Lalani tells Canadian Gaming Business. “We want to be a major Canadian sportsbook.” The rapidly g row ing company, run by Canadian industry veterans including CEO Mike Mirtl, has already blossomed outside of Canada. It has built a successful footprint in several European markets including the UK, Germany, and Scandinavia. Now, it is focused on becoming an industry leader in Canada as the country’s sports betting offerings look poised for a boom. TARGETED AMBITION
Lalani has a wealth of experience in the sports and iGaming field, having previously served as the marketing director for industry giant Pinnacle Sports, primarily in the European and Asian markets. With the knowledge he and Mirtl bring, BetRegal has enjoyed European success, establishing sub-operator Maltese and British gaming licenses and focusing, as Lalani puts it, on
“accelerated growth” particularly in the UK market. “Our strategy when we started was getting to market as quickly as possible using a two-pronged approach,” Lalani explains. That consisted of first establishing the brand and entering the marketplace quickly using software providers, and subsequently building out a platform of its own. Currently, the company offers various sports betting derivative products, from “BR Bot,” which applies machine learning to your betting history to recommend potential betting options, to a fully integrated live-betting match tracker. “We’re slowly moving away from the software provider approach and into a proprietary platform.” But, while the initial focus was on Europe, ever since its founding in the middle of last decade, BetRegal has harboured lofty but considered ambitions when it comes to North America. Lalani and Mirtl are both Canadian, and the excitement at the potential opportunities ahead is palpable. “A couple of years ago, when Canada started moving more towards regulation, we knew that Canada was going to be our focus,” says Lalani. Right now, he estimates the company’s base is still probably 70 to 75 per cent UK-focused. That, though, is decreasing. Whereas BetRegal’s historic top three markets of focus have been the UK, Germany, and Norway, Canada is now the main object of their attentions. “With Canada, we think we can take everything we've learned over the last 15 to 20 years in the industry and apply it to home. We’re really pushing forward aggressively.” A LAND OF OPPORTUNITY
Up to this point, Lalani divulges that BetRegal has seen some organic acquisition
in Canada. But the excitement in his voice is audible when he discusses what’s in the pipeline already, and what developments in Canadian sports betting could bring for the company. “ We're in the contract stages of announcing a very big Canadian league sponsorship, so we're going to start that brand development process right now,” he says, describing that as “the centerpiece” of their initial marketing strategy in Canada. “There’s a halo effect that comes along with partnering with a really storied and tried-and-true Canadian brand,” he notes. Indeed, strategic partnerships will be key for BetRegal’s progress. Initial conversations are already underway with notable Canadian former pro athletes, including ex-hockey players and members of the Blue Jays’ MLB championshipwinning team of the early 1990s. The focus, Lalani explains, is developing brand credibility. “We’re trying to differentiate from others through focusing on product, customer, and localization.” Right now, there are a multitude of Canadian operators poised to strike into the market as the industry moves further down the line with sports betting. As Lalani succinctly describes it, BetRegal is only on the first leg of its marathon when it comes to operating in Canada. One differentiator will likely be local market knowledge, and that’s something of which the company is already acutely aware. If you live in a major Canadian city, you’re most likely a fan of that city’s professional sports team, such is their saturation into the city’s culture. “We’re looking to tap into that with a targeted focus on the city localization aspect, the hometown feel,” Lalani continues. “We have the benefit of having Canadian Gaming Business | 25
CGAprofiles that intimate knowledge that allows us to hone in locally. We’re aware of what’s needed in this marketplace to develop a strong Canadian brand.” OPERATING RESPONSIBLY
BetRegal has an even greater focus, though, and that is ensuring it proves itself as a responsible operator. Responsible gaming is an important topic right now as Canadian bettors witness the explosion of sports betting in the U.S. and the inundation of that market. Keeping customers safe and protected, and responsibly managing their gambling has never been more important on what feels like the eve of sports betting’s true advent in Canada. Lalani emphasizes that the company’s biggest focus is operating in good faith. “That’s because, compared to more established markets, Canada’s very naïve.” Education will be key, and BetRegal’s aim is to be both the place to make wagers and help familiarize the public with the concept of sports betting. “Our handshake with the Canadian public is going to be very all-inclusive.”
For Lalani and Mirtl, a priority is also focusing on doing some good in the local communities and helping to remove the negative connotation that sports betting still has in many corners. To that end, the company’s initial splash with their Canadian league partnership will entail a huge push on responsible gaming. TAPPING THE POTENTIAL
The timing of BetRegal joining the CGA, amid the North American acceleration of sports betting and debate in Canada’s House of Commons, is poignant. They know just how important the collaboration is to their aspirations. “There’s a credibility component and a higher degree of professionalism that comes along with the association,” acknowledges Lalani. “We can quite clearly benefit from the relationships the CGA already has, and we feel we can also provide value to the CGA in our role as a positive voice of an offshore operator. We want to be regarded as one of the first ones to do this well and properly in Canada, and CGA membership helps to both bring that credibility and act as something of a microphone for us.”
All in all, BetRegal recognizes the potential in Canada is astronomical. Lalani compares it to the existing dominant gaming markets like the UK and Germany. “It’s a huge opportunity.” As for what may be down the line, the major Canadian league partnership and outreach campaigns are exciting, but the company has other hopes, too. Yes, digital gaming has been its core focus, but traditional options can play a role, too. “We’re exploring opportunities in that space, such as partnering with existing properties or casinos,” Lalani explains. He cites their retail presence in emerging South American markets: there are BetRegal betting terminals in multiple land-based casinos in Central America. “We have that footprint already and we see a real opportunity to not only be an online space but also to develop the BetRegal brand through strategic partnerships with landbased casinos, major entertainment venues, etc... We want to be that first thought when Canadians in the industry think of sports betting or gaming.” It’s a long and winding road, but BetRegal is walking now so it can later run.
Vancouver-based global iGaming and sports betting company FansUnite has taken huge strides in 2020 before becoming the CGA's latest member. FansUnite is looking to establish itself as a leader in the sports and esports fields at a time when sports betting and online gaming are becoming the core focus within the Canadian industry. SCOTT BURTON, CEO of the technology and sports betting company, boils down its appeal: “We can handle everything from gaming licenses to payments, banking, hosting, age and identity and location verification, risk management. We can plug in casinos, different sports offerings, as well as our history in fantasy and esports.” Indeed, FansUnite boasts its own sportsbook, integrated B2B solutions, and B2C offerings. Ultimately, the
26 | Spring 2021
aim is to be a full and comprehensive iGaming solution, complete with an entire marketplace of casino games, traditional sports wagering, and esports for consumers, as well as integrated services for other gaming companies. And, as Canada is moving forward with legalizing single-sports betting, they’re already well on the way. Burton notes that CGA membership just made sense for the company in late
2020. “A big motivation there was to get a seat at that table and open some doors,” he says. FROM TRADITIONAL SPORTS TO FULL-SUITE ESPORTS
In Burton and his business partner, President Darius Eghdami, FansUnite has a leadership team that has a distinct vision for its path forwards. Burton, a Vancouverite with a passion for sports betting, entered the industry in 2013 with A skott Entertainment. It all started with an intriguing and engaging concept: “a sort of social and peer sports betting exchange,” as he puts it, one where users would be informed and entertained, and keep coming back. Given Canada’s reluctance to take up legal single-event sports betting options, Burton and his team knew that they had to look elsewhere. At that time, the U.S. was far away from embracing sports gambling. Instead, they focused on a jurisdiction with decades of history in the space: the United Kingdom. Starting out in the traditional sports space and licensed out of the Isle of Man, Askott moved into esports around the start of 2015 and quickly recognized the opportunity that market presented. Their daily fantasy site for esports, esportspools.com, registered about 200,000 users and led to a full suite of products for betting on esports – in-play betting, f ixed odds, daily fantasy, and content. MERGING AND GROWING
By 2019, Askott had transitioned to offering a full sports and esports platform. In 2020, the company became a runaway train. As for many businesses, it all started with a forced change of plans. Askott had been looking early in 2020 to list publicly in Canada but COVID-19’s progression to pandemic status disrupted those plans. Instead, discussions began between Askott and FansUnite. Burton had k now n E g hd a m i, a fellow Vancouver-based professional with a passion for and expertise in gaming, for several years. FansUnite went publ ic i n M a rch a nd w a s , a s Bur ton notes, “ in acquisit ion mode.” Of particular success had been its work with Scotland-focused UK sportsbook, McBookie, which
benefited hugely from the scalability F a n sUn i t e o f f e r e d a f t e r b e i n g acquired last year. With Askott looking to move back into traditional sports and casino after years focusing on esports, the benefits of a merger were clear. Askott and FansUnite merged in August 2020 and Burton became CEO, with former FansUnite CEO Eghdami moving into the role of president. AN IN-DEMAND PLATFORM
A core part of FansUnite as it is today is its Chameleon platform, a full esports B2B white-label iGaming solution which has everything from licensing to banking and payments to verification and risk management built into it. “We can provide a full solution for anyone wanting to get into gaming or gambling,” says Burton. For instance, FansUnite can cover a brand’s licensing in return for a fee and/or revenue share, leaving that brand to focus on the marketing side. Or, Burton explains, the path being followed with esports is focusing on licensed operators. FansUnite will go to existing sportsbooks and casinos that don’t have an esports portfolio and can plug its offerings right into the operators’ existing infrastructure. A key aspect of Chameleon and FansUnite’s appeal is customizability and feature switches. If customers want in-play esports betting but no fantasy or casino, those features can be turned off. “We can run a sportsbook with multiple integrations, so you can tell us who you want to get your data feed from,” Burton adds. FansUnite currently offers 6,000 casino games for integration and also produces its own RNG games to appeal to the younger demographic with more of an esports or video game style. There are 15-20 payment methods that can handle global payments, Burton estimates. “All in all, it’s a full turnkey solution whether you want a sportsbook or esports or casino.” THE ROLE OF COVID-19
Burton isn’t afraid to acknowledge that the COVID-19 pandemic, even amid all of its devastating impacts on the gaming industry, has had its silver linings. One of those has been an increased consumer and operator focus on esports, and FansUnite’s CEO credits that as a significant factor in the company’s growth this year. “Fans are looking to add esports to their portfolio in a big way,” summarizes Burton.
Another pivot has been exemplified with McBookie, which was previously a traditional focused sportsbook but has seen the additions of virtuals, a live dealer, and so forth. Burton notes FansUnite likely wouldn’t have had “the time or the inclination” to focus on building out those facets were it not for the pandemic’s impact. part out without the pandemic. “But now we have a very robust offering in terms of casino, live dealer, and virtual and that’s part of the rapid revenue growth McBookie has seen.” Looking to the future, Burton is cautiously optimistic. Interest from other companies has been high, inbounds have been fielded, deals have been signed. Two Malta gaming licenses were secured to add to its progress in the UK. NORTH AMERICAN EXCITEMENT
But it’s the steps the company has taken in the North American frontier that are the most exciting in the current climate. In September, FansUnite announced its first partnership in the U.S. with GameCo., which will allow it to launch its Chameleon platform in states including New Jersey and Nevada under GameCo’s existing licensing. A similar deal was struck in December to expand into Colorado. In the early weeks of 2021, the company partnered with compliance and licensing specialist OneComply Inc. to help strategize its further expansion in the States, and signed with industry giant Gaming Laboratories International (GLI) to assess its online betting offerings for compliance and certification GLI standards. Burton suggests a U.S. launch is close and hopes that the company’s first installation in the States is announced within the first quarter of 2021. The current focus with the GameCo partnerships is on esports and esports betting. FansUnite will first focus on states with “favourable” esports legislation, which Burton notes is considerably less than the 50 per cent of states that have said "yes" to sports betting. But the recent progress made by the U.S. sports betting market is encouraging for a company like FansUnite. In Canada, opportunities have been limited until now. But, with sports betting and iGaming on the agenda, the company has joined the CGA and has also been working with global firms such as GLI as well as reaching out to Canadian Canadian Gaming Business | 27
CGAprofiles heavyweights like theScore and brickand-mortar casinos. The aim, he notes, is to make sure everyone knows what FansUnite can offer. Burton hopes that FansUnite’s status as a full, made-in-Canada technical solution could add to the allure. In the online gambling space, close proximity to your platform provider – both in terms of geography and shared knowledge – is advantageous. “You also get the added benefit of understanding the local markets,” says Burton. “Your hockey
offering might need to be a lot better in Canada than anywhere else in the world. Local knowledge on market and product helps hugely, and we bring those things.” A ROSY OUTLOOK
Membership to the CGA will also permit the Vancouver-based FansUnite to advocate on legislation impacting Canadian gaming companies, something that’s understandably appealing right now. After a banner 2020 for the company, including the kind of growth Burton
and his team would have dreamed of, the sky’s the limit. FansUnite is cautiously hopeful that, with the additional support of the CGA and the progress it has already made in recent months, it can almost double revenue for the entire company. The company has been in tech-building, startup mode until now, notes Burton. Now, it can look ahead to firing on all cylinders in Canada, the U.S., and beyond. The times are changing, and FansUnite is ready to take advantage.
The B2B sports betting provider and new Canadian Gaming Association member is looking to bring its U.S. success north of the border. When it comes to sports betting solutions, Canada is poised to become the land of sports betting opportunity. Kambi certainly wants in on the action and feels well-placed to contribute after joining the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) in recent weeks.
“THERE’S A HUGE opportunity to help Canadian operators attract customers that are dealing with offshore markets right now,” says Evan Schaffner, Kambi’s Head of Partner Success, Americas. “It feels like with the legislation in the works, it’s the right time to join the party.” The B2B sports betting provider already has a huge global footprint. Present in 28 | Spring 2021
six continents and with a U.S. reach that expands to 13 states, Canada was the next logical step for the company to take, given the way the conversation around sports betting is intensifying north of the border. Indeed, Schaffner suggests they will look to the way things have progressed in the U.S. when mapping out what entry into the Canadian market may look like. Kambi,
he notes, wants to deeply understand the interest, trends, and the legislation that will be present from province by province. “One of the keys to our success has been establishing local business ties and, as we have in the U.S., we’ll really look to adapt our offering to what each local population is looking for, as well as obviously what the provinces are allowing.” After all, Schaffner says, that approach is what’s likely to not only provide the greatest experience for customers, but also drive the biggest revenue opportunities for provinces and provincial operators alike. “There are multiple elements of an offering that, altogether, really make this the right time for us to join the CGA,” he continues. “We’re really excited about membership and about Canada on the whole.” In particular, he notes, membership of the association provides a world of opportunities: in short, as Schaffner puts it, it’s a real “door-opener” for K ambi to get to k now the market intimately ahead of time.
CGAprofiles BRINGING EXPERT KNOWLEDGE
Kambi feels it has a lot to offer to the industry, too. The company began life as a B2B spinoff of betting and gaming giant Unibet. These days it is a global company with offices in Bucharest, London, Manila, Philadelphia, Stockholm, and Sydney, in addition to its headquarters in Malta. Schaffner says the company has an “extremely strong” Scandinavian and Nordic heritage, reflected in its knowledge of sports like hockey, which will naturally prove useful in the Canadian market. It’s in the U.S., though, seen as the closest translation of what a progressive Canadian sports betting marketplace may look like, where the company has been making big strides in its B2B work. Kambi does significant business across most of the regulated U.S. states through partnering with both multi-state and local operators. Because it is waiting for regulations to evolve in Canada, the company does not currently have operations in this country. However, what it does have is customers and partners in the U.S. that have Canadian operations, and it is excited to expand those relations as and when Canada comes into play. Kambi aims to help educate the market based on its wide-ranging experience. Core to its business model is integrity, emphasizes Schaffner; Kambi is a member of organizations like the IBIA (International Betting Integrity A ssociation) and has a full-time sportsbook control team that monitors activity 24/7 to detect signs of sports manipulation at the earliest of stages. “CGA membership is a great way to not only make those capabilities known but to really contribute to watching the industry develop into its next iteration in Canada,” says Schaffner. PIVOTING IN A PANDEMIC
Like every business in the gaming industr y, K ambi’s operations were severely hit by COVID-19 in 2020. With traditional sports largely shut down until the fall or even more recently, and many of their retail partners closed due to the pandemic, the company was forced to pivot. “While we were going through this, we started to really think for ward about how the world might change and our world might change,” Schaffner explains. Key among Kambi’s initial moves was the developing of a process
that allowed it to work with its operating partners to conduct retail deployments remotely. “That’s not necessarily our preference but under the circumstances, those went off without a hitch. We're extremely proud of the fact that we were successful in those ventures but also that we were forward-thinking in our approach.” Even prior to COVID-19, Kambi had found itself ahead of the game. It had rolled out a technology it calls “BYOD” or “Bring Your Own Device”, which enables bettors to view lines and construct bets anywhere, generating a QR code which can be scanned on-property at a counter or kiosk – thus placing their wagers without coming into contact with any surfaces. “That turned out to be very good foresight and a solution we were fortunate to be able to provide to our partners,” admits Schaffner. “It was extremely well-received by our partners, they appreciate us being ahead of the curve on things like that.” The technology has seen “phenomenal” adoption and, as one may imagine, took on even more prominence once COVID-19 hit. Moving forward, Kambi is confident it ca n prov ide a long-ter m sa fer option for continuing in-person retail experiences. That adaptability could be key to success in the Canadian market. GRAND DESIGNS IN CANADA
On the whole, Kambi believes it has what it takes to succeed in a future Canadian market. Schaffner reiterates that the company will look to follow its varied-bystate model north of the border. Neither the U.S. nor Canada is a one-size-fits-all model: if and when Canadian legislation
passes, the next step will be provinces holding numerous discussions with operators and regulators about how to proceed along their own lines, for their own demographics. Schaffner believes Kambi is perfectly equipped to tackle that challenge head-on when the times comes. “Every U.S. state is a bit different. Every operator certainly has their own unique qualities and approach to the market, from what they offer to how they acquire their market share. We've been incredibly nimble with our ability to really provide a customized level of customer or partner support.” Kambi is a true B2B operation, its goal is to build strategic partnerships with operators including some of the biggest known names in Canada and to continue its U.S. nimble footedness by reacting to what’s approved from a regulatory standpoint from province to province. The company refers to itself as a springboard for visionary sportsbooks and they fully intend to continue that north of the border by partnering with existing market leaders or companies with the potential to achieve market leadership. Schaffner stresses that Kambi has the potential and the tools help operators with both their front end and their back end and to work in a consultative process alongside them as they move through the regulatory process. In the U.S., that approach has brought professional collaborations with the likes of major multi-state operators Penn National Gaming and Rush Street Interactive, as well as partnerships with prominent local operators who are trusted in their markets. One of their U.S. partners, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, runs operations at Niagara’s Fallsview Casino. Schaffner cites that company as one of many who are surely awaiting legislation to move forward the sports betting scene in Canada. The audience north of the border is massive and is hungry for the kind of opportunities afforded to U.S. gamblers in recent years. Ontario alone, after all, is the fifth-largest jurisdiction in North America. Reiterating that there is a huge opportunity to mirror and build upon what Kambi has experienced in the U.S. market, Schaffner shares the company’s excitement about what the near future may bring. “We’re incredibly optimistic about being part of the Canadian gaming community and what that may bring. We’re very excited about the potential moving forward in this market.” Canadian Gaming Business | 29
ONTARIO MOVING TOWARDS NEW IGAMING REGIME 30 | Spring 2021
BY MICHAEL LIPTON Q.C. AND KEVIN WEBER
The Canadian online gaming landscape is on the cusp of significant changes, as the province of Ontario continues down the road of liberalizing its provincial model to allow private iGaming operators a greater role and the federal government inches closer to legalizing fully functional sportsbooks. THE A M E N D M E N T S t o O nt a r io g a m i n g re g u l at or y legislation required to establish the new iGaming regime were enacted in December 2020, and they w ill not come into force until the empowering regulations are f inalized and the necessar y regulator y infrastructure has been prepared. These amendments will introduce the concept of a “lottery subsidiary”, allowing Ontario to establish a subsidiary of the AGCO that will have the object and duty of conducting and managing such online gaming as is prescribed in the regulations (“online lottery schemes”), in addition to any other prescribed objects or duties. The AGCO will be responsible for overseeing the lottery subsidiary. The Ontario government will have the authority to issue directives to the AGCO or to the lottery subsidiary relating to the conduct, management and operation of prescribed online lottery schemes. The lottery subsidiary will not be operating iGaming sites. Instead, it will be responsible for the conduct and management of iGaming sites that will be operated by private third parties, in accordance with the requirements for conducting and managing gambling under section 207 of the federal Criminal Code. In this manner, the Ontario government seeks to establish a competitive iGaming market that will bring operators currently operating in the unregulated (“grey”) market in Ontario into the new legal market where they will be subject to a robust consumer protection framework. The AGCO has indicated that prior to the finalization of the regulations, it will provide members of the industry
with opportunities to participate in further consultations. Consultations will relate to both technical matters and commercial issues. We anticipate that a number of industry members will participate in the consultations as it will give them an opportunity to express their views on the final shape of Ontario’s new iGaming model. The AGCO will be responsible for regulation of private individuals and entities seeking to be involved in the operation of iGaming, while the lottery subsidiary will be responsible for the conduct and management of that iGaming. The “conduct and management” role is generally understood to be a high-level role, and is often referred to as being the “operating mind” of the gaming in question. The regulations will likely seek to ensure that the lottery subsidiary will remain at all times the “operating mind” of the iGaming carried out in Ontario. Once the new model is rolled out, it will be interesting to learn how it compares to the iGaming model currently followed by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, with its heavy emphasis on a government-controlled entity being responsible for the components that constitute “conduct and management”. The AGCO expects to follow a regulatory model based on its current risk-based registration principles. The model will not be prescriptive in nature but will set out broad standards to which applicants must adhere and upon which the AGCO will assess the nature and scope of risk. As noted, the Ontario government seeks to bring operators currently operating in the unregulated, grey market in Ontario into the new legal market. To this end, the AGCO recognizes that a balance Canadian Gaming Business | 31
must be struck between having a robust regulatory model on the one hand and encouraging ex isting offshore operators to participate in the new model on the other. The AGCO recog nizes that if barriers to entr y are too high, many operators will not participate. To this extent, the AGCO will seek to level the playing field and endeavor to keep barriers to entry relatively low so as not to discourage operators from applying. This approach is certainly amenable to operators who currently service Ontario consumers, as it will encourage them to apply for licensure under the new model. One potential regulatory barrier to entry would be a “ bad actor” provision barring operators that have previously accepted Canadian customers from being licensed by the AGCO. We have been advised that the AGCO does not anticipate that it will be enforcing any such “bad actor” provision. However, it is still unclear as to whether offshore operators will be required to block all of Canada in order to qualify for licensure in Ontario. Some industry representatives have strongly suggested that such a requirement would place Ontario in the position of gratuitously helping other provincial ju r i s d ic t ion s pr o t e c t t hei r iG a m i n g i nt er e s t s i n circumstances where those jurisdictions have not taken positive action to modernize their iGaming models. In any event, blocking Ontario will certainly be one of the prerequisites to applying for licensure and clarification as to when to commence such blocking is eagerly awaited by many operators. Additionally, the AGCO w ill seek to follow best practices available in other jurisdictions. To this end, the AGCO is presently considering the prospect of “fast tracking” applications it receives from existing licensees from other Tier 1 jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom or New Jersey. The AGCO has given indications that it anticipates that the ta x rate and licensing fees to which private
operators will be subject will be competitive with other jurisdictions and will be at a level that will encourage operators to participate in the new Ontario model. Ma rketing a f f iliates ca n ex pect to be subject to regulation by the AGCO in promoting the operations of private entities taking part in the new Ontario iGaming model. Accordingly, any individual or entity playing a key role in operations, including those participating in marketing, will be subject to the same disclosure and suitability requirements that exist with respect to land based registrants. The Ontario government recognizes that the viability of its new iGaming model would be greatly enhanced if sports betting operations licensed by the AGCO could offer singleevent sports betting. Such sports betting has long been banned in Canada, but Bill C-218 to bring about its legalization was passed by the House of Commons with overwhelming crossparty support at second reading on February 17, and there is reason to hope that it will be enacted. Other jurisdictions in Canada are closely monitoring the prog ress that Ontario is mak ing reg arding the implementation of its new iGaming model but there is no current update available as to what these other jurisdictions will be doing. However, we note that there are provisions in the Criminal Code whereby provincial governments could enter into agreements that would permit their residents to participate in iGaming hosted in Ontario. The timing of the implementation of the new model is unknown as of the date of writing due to a number of factors, notably the ongoing pandemic. Members of the industry will certainly welcome the changes to the iGaming landscape, but they should anticipate the need for patience before the model becomes operational. Hope springs eternal as to the prospects for Ontario’s new iGaming model, and we will await to learn how the universe will unfold.
Michael Lipton Q.C. has served as senior counsel on gaming law matters for over 30 years. He regularly represents governments, casino operators, gaming equipment suppliers/manufacturers, payment processors among others and counsels licensees throughout North America on gaming compliance and governance issues. Michael is a founding member of the International Masters of Gaming Law and a past President. He was recognized by his peers for inclusion in Best Lawyers in Canada and by Chambers Global for his expertise in gaming law and regulatory matters from 2008 to 2021. He has authored numerous articles in gaming law publications, spoken at many conferences throughout the world, and earned a global reputation as an outstanding gaming regulatory counsel. Michael is a Senior Partner at Dickinson Wright LLP and Head of the Canadian Gaming Law Group. He can be reached at 416.866.2929 or MDLiptonQC@dickinsonwright.com. Kevin Weber has practiced gaming law for over 22 years, guiding clients through compliance issues with gaming regulators, and providing opinions on all matters relating to the lawful operation of land-based and online gaming. He represents gaming equipment suppliers, casino operators, payment processors and governmental entities, among others, in their dealings with the complex issues associated with gaming compliance in Canada. A prolific author and speaker on gaming issues, he is a member of the International Masters of Gaming Law, he is recognized by Chambers Global and Best Lawyers in Canada as a pre-eminent expert in gaming law. He also advises clients on business immigration matters, facilitating cross-border transfers of personnel into Canada in multi-jurisdictional industries such as gaming. He can be reached at 416.367.0899 or KWeber@dickinsonwright.com.
32 | Spring 2021
O V E R F L O W . . . .?. ? ? ? ?
PLANNING AHEAD for the 2021 Virtual Canadian Gaming Summit
After the postponement of the 2020 summit, the industry is reconvening virtually in spring 2021. THE CANADIAN gaming industr y is reconvening virtually this spring for the 2021 Virtual Canadian Gaming Summit and a series of Summit webinars with so, so many things to talk about. Last year’s event, scheduled for June 15 -17, 2 02 0, was post poned due to the worsening COV ID -19 pandemic and provincial restrictions across Ontario and Canada which prohibited large gatherings. This year, due to those ongoing impacts of the pandemic, the 25th edition of the annual Summit will be going virtual on June 9-10, 2021. In advance of the two-day virtual Summit, there will be a series of preSummit webinars that will be delivered in April and May as a lead-up to the Summit itself. The Su m m it webin a rs w ill be delivered in a succinct fashion with great topics and recognizable presenters. The
virtual Gaming Summit will be held within four-hour windows each day and will feature prominent and expert presenters covering key topics based on today’s gaming industry environment while also looking ahead. The theme of the Summit and the webinar series will be Facing the Future TOGETHER, recognizing the industr y’s position today and where we m ay g o from here. A s such, the virtual Summit will feature key note present ations, education sessions, supplier technolog y sessions, a nd v ir tual net work ing re c ept ion s. We lo ok for w a rd t o reconnecting with our valued gaming industry colleagues and to providing excellent and tangible content. The Canadian Gaming Summit is the only conference and trade show in Canada that serves the entire Canadian gaming industry. The annual event
is built on its extensive educational prog ra m, developed by indust r y educational prog ram committees representing all facets of the industry. Everyone at Canadian Gaming Business, Media Edge Communications, and the Canadian Gaming A ssociation underst ands how challenging and unprecedented the current situation is, and we want to ensure that we can help prepare the industry to safely and gradually re-open as the situation allows. Please stay tuned to canadiangamingsummit.com for more information on these programs and the 2021 Summit. In the meantime, stay safe and healthy. For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Chuck Nervick, Senior Vice President of MediaEdge Communications, at 416-5128186 Ext. 227 or email@example.com. Canadian Gaming Business | 33