Lots of online activity but signs of a slow down in spending and investment elsewhere made 2009 a mixed year for Canadian gambling.
As is nears its 40th birthday, the Canadian lottery provider, Lotto-Quebec, is responding to the growth in online gambling with the attitude, 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em'. In 2010 they are due to expand into online gambling, initially with an online poker room and sportsbook. The move is likely to see collaboration with Canadian lottery providers from other provinces.
Another trend to watch out for is the growing number of mobile casinos. Just launched is Casino King's iPhone casino. They have also brought out an android casino.
Seguro Ndabene from Alberta has won the lottery a staggering FIVE times using random numbers. Ndabene has just finished fighting a court case over claims by another man that the winning ticket was part of a group purchase. Following the withdrawal of the claim, he has just collected his $17 million dollar prize money - could this be the luckiest man alive?!
Money may be tight for most, but some saw their luck come in during 2009. Canada was ranked 2nd, with 1301 wins, in winnerstrategy.com's Big Winnings Chart. The site logged a staggering total of CA$17,996,739.49 winnings for the lucky few.
In October the research group Ipsos Reid released the findings of a report into US and Canadian gambling habits. It found that Canadians in the 18-34 age group were less likely to gamble than their US neighbors. It also found that 20% of young Canadians wagered online (8% less than American youths).
In another report, Statistics Canada recently found that Albertans are the biggest spending punters. Slots and video lottery attracted the most money with bingo and lottery coming in further behind.
Canadian Law Flouted
Local casino entrepreneur, Calvin Ayre, owner of the Bodog group, has business interests around the globe. However, his recent decision to open an online casino in Kahnawake has gained the attention of the Canadian authorities. The move has raised eyebrows since he is openly serving the Canadian online gambling market - with a special site for Canadian customers now up and running.
Lottery Limit Rises
British Columbia lottery punters can now place higher bets as the Lottery Corp have raised the weekly betting limit on their website from C$120 to C$10,000. The transition will take place in stages until 2014. The site, which offers poker and sports betting, as well as the lottery, now has the ethos that players should be able to determine their own limits. The move is said to be in response to the high number of residents who are simply placing their dollars on foreign sites.
If television is a barometer of public opinion, then gambling is certainly starting to be seen as a more accepted part of society. This year saw JackpotCity launch a new TV campaign.
Effects of Tough Economy
Nanaimo's planned $50 million casino expansion is on hold until the economy picks up. Owners, the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation have postponed plans to double the gaming area and make other improvements. Gaming revenues have been tumbling since the recession took hold but the company stressed the plans are merely on ice.
The Year Ahead
Mid January sees the launch of Gaming Club's new comic-book themed video slots thriller. Microgaming's 'Hellboy' is a fun-themed slots featuring favorite characters such as Prof. Trevor Bruttenholm, Johann Krause, Liz Sherman and others. The 5 reel, 20 payline, and multiple coin game has a 4 Level Bonus Feature as well as a 2x and 4x Gamble Feature.
2010 may see the industry resurging slightly. If the Lotto-Quebec online plans go forward and the Nanaimo expansion commences, this will show renewed confidence in a market that has taken a few knocks this year.
However, the main event on everyone's mind is the 2010 Winter Olympics that take place in Vancouver in February. The countdown is on and the torch is already on its way.