Internet gambling, in one form or another, is regulated throughout most of the world’s major countries. While many of those jurisdiction have a thriving market, like the UK and Australia, others have failed to meet the expectations of legislators who wrote the regulations. The entire continent of North America is a perfect example, and oddly enough, US and Canada online gambling laws are eerily similar.
Could it be mere coincidence that the US and Canada have both generated well below the estimated revenue they thought internet gambling would generate? Or is it because both countries employ a near identical regulatory framework, proving that their methods of state-by-state, province-by-province, regulation and refusal to licence offshore entities just doesn’t work?
US & Canada Online Gambling Laws
The range of similarities between US and Canada online gambling laws are so ubiquitous, it can’t be mere coincidence.
Both the US and Canada already had laws on the books that allowed each state/province to individually regulate land-based gambling at their discretion. Thus, when the subject of online gambling arose, both (sooner or later) decided to alter federal codes to allow each state/province to define its own regulations on that matter, as well.
The end result has been a disappointing lack of uniformity in the laws. In the US, only three of the fifty states – Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey – chose to regulate online gambling, and none of them use the same regulatory framework.
Similarly, in Canada, only the provinces of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec elected to regulate online gambling. Manitoba took an easier route, and signed a deal with BC that allows its residents to access that province’s iGaming website, rather than running one of its own.
No International Operators Allowed
Another distinct similarity between US and Canada online gambling laws is that they discriminate between nationalities, so to speak. All of the guidelines state that operators located offshore are not permitted to apply for an operator’s licence. This part does work differently between the two nations.
In the US, operators can apply for a licence, so long as they have a physical presence in that state. This allows for competition between operators, providing multiple online casino and/or poker websites to customers.
In Canada, however, there is no competition within each province. Only the local gaming regulators can operate an online gambling website, meaning there’s just one regulated website per province, giving them a monopoly on services.
Disappointing Results All Round
Each and every one of these jurisdictions has failed to generate but a fraction of the revenue they’d originally hoped for.
In the US, there simply aren’t enough players to fill the poker tables or wager on the slots and table games. Opening their markets and sharing networks could do wonders, but only if more states choose to regulate internet gaming.
Canada online gambling laws are more ambiguous, and don’t stop players from accessing offshore websites. And since provincial laws don’t permit any player-friendly incentives for online casinos, or anything better than parlay wagers for sports betting, the majority of Canadians prefer international operators over homegrown opportunities.
The Route To Success
The UK is a prime example of a successful regulatory framework for online gambling. In 2014, the nation changed its guidelines so that all operators accessing the market, local or not, must apply for a licence. They must all pay hefty fees to obtain that licence, plus a 15% point of consumption tax. Additionally, no matter where an operator is located, it must abide by the strict laws of the UK, or risk losing its licence.
The UK market has since flourished, generating much needed revenue for the government, while opening a vastly competitive and lucrative field for operators. If US and Canada online gambling laws were altered to mimic the UK’s, instituting uniform regulations on a nation-wide level and accepting competition from international operators, all of North America could finally house a successful iGaming industry.