For the most part, the online gambling scene for Canada centres around one man and his overwhelming popularity.
If you ask the average Canadian what they think about online gambling, you're likely to get a wide range of different answers. Some people think it's completely legal, others believe it's totally illegal, and plenty more have varying opinions of varying degrees of truth. Many people think it's perfectly fine, and some might have a chip on their shoulder against it. No matter what their opinion, there's one thing they will be able to tell you about more often than not, and that's Canada's favourite poker son Daniel Negreanu.
Around the World in 40 Years
A high school dropout, Negreanu was facing long odds towards being successful according to common knowledge. However, now at age 40, he's ran up the most live tournament winnings of any poker player in history to the tune of around $30 million, and as one of the top Canadians in the industry, he's showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. While his accomplishments on the felt are amazing considering he's won millions on most continents, he's also made some major progress for online gambling as a whole in Canada.
Legitimizing Online Gambling
The legalities of online gambling in Canada really differs from area to area, and the provinces are largely the ones with control. With that being been said, no province outright bans all gambling on the Internet, and this includes everything from casino games to online poker.
Negreanu is by far one of the most recognizable professional players sponsored by PokerStars, and he's often seen as one of the main public faces of the company. Along these lines, when the online poker juggernaut was brought to Canada after its purchase by the Amaya Gaming Group earlier this year, it really worked out in a way that allowed Negreanu to represent a very strong company that's now based in his native country.
One of the effects of this is that it brought a lot of publicity to PokerStars, the game and the man as relates to online gambling. Not all of that publicity has been 100% positive since they have had a number of critics due to some recent changes, but Negreanu has his own opinions, and he's far from shy about voicing them.
Loud and Proud
When Amaya announced that they would be introducing casino games and sports betting during late 2014 and 2015, some people had a problem with that because they saw PokerStars as this pure mecca for play on the virtual felt. Negreanu, on the other hand, voiced an entirely different opinion and lashed out at people who he viewed were being hypocritical. This led to quite a bit of publicity for online gambling of all different types in Canada, and it brought up a lot of interesting questions about how the Internet gambling scene of a whole is changing here.
If you're going to walk around as the winner of multiple World Poker Tour titles, six World Series of Poker bracelets and two WSOP Player of the Year awards, people are going to put a bit of weight in your opinion. Because Negreanu is more than happy (some would say a bit too eager) to express his own opinion on what's going on in the industry, he acts as a sort of makeshift beacon that has the potential to largely affect the landscape of the industry as is often shown in Grizzly Online Gambling feature articles.
Current State of the Industry
Right now, the Internet gambling landscape is a bit less than ideal in Canada. While the provinces have the right to run (but not license) their own games, and while players aren't supposed to be playing games outside of these, there aren't any real enforcement mechanisms, and the government largely turns a blind eye to the player side of the equation.
In the past, provinces that are active in online gambling have tried to take over the market with their own games to little avail. In some areas, they've only achieved something in the neighbourhood of 10-15% market penetration. The long and the short of it is that they simply can't compete with industry leaders who offer services in Canada. Along these lines, they have changed their approach recently to start licensing these competitors so that the games can be regulated and taxed appropriately. Play OLG, which just launched this month, is the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporationâ€™s foray into the online gaming market. They faced early backlash for their lengthy registration process.
Negreanu and his affiliation with PokerStars, along with his particularly outspoken opinion, is much to thank for these changes. As the online gambling scene starts to change up a bit, we're sure that we'll continue to hear from him on what he thinks are the good and the bad about what's going on.