BRITAIN and Canada are two countries in which online gambling has flourished over the last few years. Residents in both have thousands of online casinos, poker websites, sports betting platforms and other forms of gambling at their disposal. In fact, many of these are targeted specifically at those countries. However, the UK and Canada employ vastly different approaches to regulation and this affects their respective markets significantly.
To gain some perspective into the two gambling scenes, we first have to explore how they came to be and what actions the governments have taken over the course of their development.
British Gambling Regulations
The United Kingdom serves as a model country that has embraced gambling and implemented regulations on the industry to provide bettors with a safe and fair experience. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission was established to regulate the gambling industry in the country and it is held to be one of the most trusted and reputable institutions of its kind. It oversees most forms of gambling, including casino gaming, sports betting, poker, bingo, lotteries, and others.
The first wave of online gambling legislation came in the 2000s, with the introduction of The Gambling Act of 2005. It covered both land-based and online operations, imposing specific restrictions and standards for safety and fairness. Moreover, it allowed companies licensed by the Commission to legally offer their services to the UK public. Licensed entities are accountable to the UKGC and customers have the opportunity to voice a complaint in case of a dispute and access to self-exclusion when requested. This level of protection for bettors brought legitimacy to the UK gambling scene and ensures that unscrupulous companies do not take advantage of their customers.
The UKGC takes a hands-on approach when it comes to the betting industry and has not shied away from enforcing policies and issuing fines when called for. Numerous operators have been sanctioned over the years for engaging in unfair or predatory behaviour. Additionally, the Commission is also willing to scrap old legislation in favour of new and improved regulations. For example, in 2019, new rules were implemented requiring online gambling platforms to verify the identity of their customers within 72 hours of opening an account. This is only a small sample of the UKGC’s initiative and willingness to step in when a problem presents itself.
Canada Gambling Regulations
To put it bluntly, Canadian gambling regulations are a mess when compared to those in the UK and other first-world countries. For one, each province has its own specific laws regarding gambling, such as the minimum gambling age, what forms of gambling are allowed, and others. Moreover, private gambling enterprises are banned in the country and no operators are permitted to open venues in either land-based or virtual form. Of course, this does not prevent the provinces from running their own monopolies, such as lotteries, bingo and other state-sponsored operations.
This research of the gambling regulation in Canada shines a light on just how strange the situation in the country is. Legislation found on the Justice Laws Website reveals that while domestic private enterprise is forbidden, there is no such ban for foreign operators. Indeed, international companies are able to offer their online services to the Canadian player base with no issue. While this is not strictly legal, it is not illegal either. The Canadian gambling market finds itself in a grey area. Bettors are not prohibited from accessing foreign betting platforms and do not pay tax on any winnings accrued from their gambling hobby.
It is interesting how the government is perfectly willing to let citizens gamble at foreign-based websites but has taken no real steps to ensure their safety or the fairness of the games. The issue with placing bets on international platforms is that there is no regulatory body to oversee things. A Canadian bettor can be cheated out of their hard-earned money and they will have no recourse in the matter.
The closest thing that Canada has to a gambling regulatory institution is the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. However, it is based in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake and as such, it falls outside of the jurisdiction of the federal or provincial governments. In effect, the KGC functions as its own distinct entity, rather than an extension of the state.
Differences Between UK and Canadian Gambling Markets
While both the UK and Canadian gambling scenes are exceptional in their development and acceptedness of operators one cannot help but see the difference between them. The United Kingdom takes an active approach when it comes to protecting its citizens and quality assurance. A platform licensed in the UK is bound to strict regulations and guidelines, facing severe penalties for breaking them. Moreover, the regulatory institution in the country does not hesitate to reign in rogue operators when they step out of line. This has led to a balanced and fair market for all parties involved.
The Canadian gambling market is much more laissez-faire in comparison. There is little government oversight of foreign operators and while certain provinces have taken measures in some regards, these can hardly hold a candle to UK regulations. Canadian players are more or less at the mercy of gambling companies to hold up their end of the bargain, with few, if any, legal protections in place. The reputable international brands are known for self-policing to maintain a positive image, however, some smaller platforms have proven to be quite cutthroat when it comes to ensuring their profits.
As it stands, the UK leads the way for proper regulated online gambling, whereas Canada is much more content to stay away from it and promote the government-run monopolies.