Recently, iGaming Ontario issued its Q1 report on the province’s regulated market for online gambling. The recap found that local players have placed much more money on online casino games than they have put on sports-related betting. The iCasino segment generated CA$11.6 billion of the total volume, while sports wagering accounted for CA$2 billion.
The province opened up its online gaming sector for private operators on April 4, 2022, allowing licensed brands to legally offer casino games, sports betting and pokers to local audiences. It is overseen by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and its subsidiary iGaming Ontario, and the total betting handle for Q1 this FY was around CA$14 billion.
-Interest in iGaming Intensifies, but Experts are Worried
In the report, it was outlined that online casino games captured CA$11.6 billion of the betting volume in the quarter. This includes games such as slots, live and computer-based table games, and peer-to-peer bingo. Sports betting and poker got handles of CA$2 billion and CA$350 million. The combined handle of the three delivered CA$545 million in gaming revenue.
However, some experts such as Nigel Turner, a scientist at the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health are concerned about the increasing popularity of iGaming. He commented that the province has been flooded with sports-betting advertising, and argued that with the increase in popularity, more people could develop gambling-related issues.
But, Andrew Kennedy, a spokesperson for the attorney general said that the province invests CA$31 million annually to battle problem gambling. Over CA$25 million go to treatment programs, while the rest is set aside for education and prevention efforts. Mr. Turner reminded gamblers that it is important for them to know that there are always ways of getting help.
Andrew Kim, an assistant professor in the psychology department at Toronto Metropolitan University said the new numbers give a sense of how much iGaming is taking place, as opposed to before the launch of the regulated sector. He is worried about iCasino offerings as they are available 24/7, unlike sports betting where professional sporting events are at certain times.
Previously, David Hodgins, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Calgary and co-ordinator with the Alberta Gaming Research Institute sports betting has evolved in a way that it is now quite similar to slot machines due to its availability and the ability to wager on almost everything. Saying that both products are similarly addictive for players.
-Online Casinos are Still a Bigger Issue, says Expert
Michael Naraine, an associate professor in the sport management department at Brock University noted that sports betting may have caught the eye of experts, but according to him, it is a red herring, as casino games are the bigger culprit. This is due to their constant availability and they can also be played from essentially anywhere, and they do not require much time.
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