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Why Ontario made the right decision about sports betting and gaming

by Ana Lopez
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Canada, like many other major economies, including Australia, France and Germany, has had trouble clarifying its gambling laws. This is not uncommon, as many countries have legal precedents based on older Acts of Parliament that treated gambling as an activity you did personally, such as going to the racetrack or visiting the casino on tribal land. The internet changed the game – literally.

It’s not a criticism, as many countries around the world struggled to anticipate how all-encompassing the Internet would be. A good example is the United Kingdom, which tried to modernize all its gambling laws with the Gambling Act 2005. You might think that the internet was ubiquitous, as was online gambling, but it took a number of years for anyone to hear of an iPhone, 5G, VPNs or cryptocurrency, all of which (both legal and illegal) are influencing modern gambling today . . At the moment, the UK is fighting alongside many other countries to get gambling bills through parliament.

Canada has had a complicated system

As for Canada, it’s been messy. Legislative powers were transferred to the provinces in 1985, and online gambling has had some sense of legality in certain areas since 1996. But for the most part it had been disjointed, with full online gambling accessible in some parts of the country and not others. Government-backed platforms were – and are – available, but this doesn’t sit well with an ultra-competitive industry.

One of the main issues that emerged was the presence of both offshore and illegal gambling sites, a problem that had been exacerbated by using VPNs (allowing users to spoof their locations).

Broadly speaking, this became known as the legal gray market of gambling. In Ontario and elsewhere in the country, it was illegal to gamble on unlicensed gambling platforms, but since many of the offshore operators were licensed somewhere in the world, that technicality meant gamblers had little to worry about. But Ontario has led the way for change by passing the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act in April 2022.

Licensed international casino brands now available in Ontario

The law led the way to an extensive regulated gambling market in the province, granting licenses to online casinos and gambling platforms to operate legally in the province. For example, the international gaming company Mansion Group now operates one using VPNs under the casino.com brand. Naturally, with Ontario regulators setting high standards, not all brands were licensed and many of those operating in the gray area had to leave the market.

All this should be celebrated as the way forward. We’ve made several comparisons with the rest of the world, but what unites many legislators is the sense of kicking the pot on the road. Ontario legislators decided to do something about the.

Why Ontario made the right decision about sports betting and gaming

A regulated online gambling market offers regulatory oversight, taxation, player protection and the chance to implement responsible gambling initiatives. On the other hand, a gray market means that regulators are powerless, potential tax revenue disappears, a lack of player protection and few opportunities for the government to promote responsible gambling.

For the sake of clarity, of course, we should point out that Ontario is not the only Canadian province that has taken action to clarify its gambling laws. But as a county that comprises nearly 40% of the population, it’s clearly important that lawmakers take such steps. Hopefully others will follow suit.

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