Dana Nikolic on the Online Casino Climate in Canada

Dana Nikolic on the Online Casino Climate in Canada

We had the pleasure of sitting down with acclaimed iGaming writer Dana Nikolic from eCheckCasinos.ca to discuss the latest developments in the Canadian online gambling space and get her take on the future of the industry.

Dana has been covering this exciting field for over a decade across numerous high-profile publications. With extensive expertise in both the business and legal aspects of iGaming, she has some invaluable insights to share with us today.

Interview with Dana starts below

Q: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Dana! Let's dive right in—what's your assessment of the current state of online gambling in Canada?

The last few years have been monumental for the Canadian iGaming industry. When single-event sports betting was legalised in 2021, it triggered a domino effect that led several provinces to open their markets to this new sports betting vertical.

The combined potential of regulated sports and possibly casino wagering finally swayed legislators to amend the Criminal Code with Bill C-218, allowing for these new opportunities.

Ontario was first out the gate in early 2022 with an open licensing model for private operators to offer legal casino and sports betting. Their competitive market has been an overwhelming success, with millions pouring into provincial coffers every month.

Other provinces, including British Columbia and Quebec, have also had long-established regulated markets with government-operated platforms like PlayNow and Espacejeux. So there are definitely a lot of options to play online casinos in Canada right now.

Q: Absolutely! As the operators of popular iGaming site Roger.com, we're keenly tracking these developments. How do you see the Ontario market evolving over the next couple of years?

Ontario set the bar high out of the gate and attracted 80ish licensed gaming sites competing for players. I expect consolidation is inevitable as sites merge or leave the market.

The next couple of years will be a battle for dominance amongst the top operators as they fight for market share through promotions, brand marketing, and sponsorships.

The good news is players reap the rewards of this heated competition! Sites hungry for new sign-ups offer users ample bonuses and perks. I think innovation in mobile technology will also be huge.

Advances that enhance the player experience, like seamless payment options or interactive live dealer gameplay, will be key.

Q: You make a great point about mobile tech. At Roger.com, we’re investing heavily in our mobile platform to match user preferences. On the topic of payments, do you anticipate growth in cryptocurrency adoption amongst gaming sites?

Absolutely, crypto brings speed, privacy, and low fees that appeal to both users and operators. There are a lot of online casinos in Canada that accept crypto right now and I expect integration will just continue growing.

Features that allow depositing one currency but playing in another create incredible flexibility. And payment providers like MuchBetter bring crypto-fiat hybrid options to traditional fiat-focused sites.

Q: You cover an array of topics beyond iGaming as well, from yoga to nutrition. What drew you to those subjects, and does any common thread tie them together?

Ha, you’ve surely done your background research. Well I started out writing about health because I was obsessed with wellness for a while. But my main passion is really in writing.

My brother asked me to write content for his online casino sites, and from there I’ve had clients contact me and give me work. So I’ve just been thrown into it I guess. But I love it, there’s so many exciting things to uncover and the space is developing at a crazy pace.

Q: How have players themselves responded to real regulated options compared to the old offshore grey market?

It’s like night and day! There are almost 80 licensed online casinos in Ontario right now. Compare that to the offshore market with questionable operators and limited banking and support channels.

No contest! Plus, the peace of mind that comes with strict oversight of licensing, data privacy, responsible gambling, and game integrity that offshore brands can’t match.

Q: What impact have you seen from Ontario introducing legal online sports betting alongside casino and poker?

Enormous impact! Sports betting can attract a whole new demographic of customers not necessarily interested in traditional casino gaming. And research shows sports bettors are more likely to engage in casino games when provided a seamless one-stop-shop.

The ability to move funds or bonuses between product verticals keeps players engaged. Sports betting brings new users into the funnel, which benefits the overall ecosystem.

Q: Shifting focus, what other provinces appear next in line to regulate?

British Columbia has been making serious progress with public consultations all wrapped up last year and rumours of a launch.

There’s also growing buzz in Alberta and Quebec following Ontario’s lead. Each province has a chance to put their unique stamp on regulation in their region. Super exciting times ahead as more Canadians get access to safe, legal options closer to home.

Q: Fantastic overview! Let’s talk about the players themselves. How does the average Canadian gambler differ from more mature markets in Europe?

Great question! The Canadian bettor skews younger and much more tech-savvy since our market is still emerging. They’re conducting more research upfront to understand regulations in their province before playing.

Canadians also tend to compare welcome offers across multiple sites to maximise value. Higher adoption of mobile play and digital payments are also key traits.

Q: Finally, what excites you most about the future of iGaming in Canada?

We’ve only scratched the surface of possibility! With more provinces opening markets, record gaming revenue being generated, and innovation in mobile tech accelerating, it’s an incredibly dynamic time.

And the opportunity for operators to harness big data, AI, and responsible gambling tools to craft next-level entertainment experiences gives so much room for growth. The next five years will take Canadian iGaming to spectacular new heights!

Appreciate you taking the time, Dana! Always a pleasure tapping that sharp mind of yours on the latest trends. Look forward to our next chat!

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