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Quebec or BC: Which will be the next province to legalize online gambling in Canada?

After the legalization of online gambling in Ontario, commercial online sportsbooks and casinos have gotten in line to get licenses to become operational in the province. The outcome has been successful, and Ontario has become earmarked as one of the most lucrative online gambling markets in North America. Saskatchewan has also taken the leap to legalize online gambling in their province but has opted to provide one legal option for users, instead of opening the market up for commercial sportsbooks to enter.

While Ontario is the most populous province in Canada, and Saskatchewan has taken the less lucrative approach, there are other provinces that show great potential from a gambling revenue perspective, namely Quebec and British Columbia.

With this in mind, which of these provinces will be the next to implement a licensing framework similar to Ontario’s, to also benefit from regulating online gambling?

Status of the Journey to Legalize Online Gambling in Quebec

When it comes to population size and interest in gambling, Quebec is next in line after Ontario. Quebec was among the first provinces in Canada to legalize single-game betting after the passing of Bill C-218 back in August 2021. Due to the speed of the province’s decision to legalize single-game bets, onlookers were expecting Quebec to be as swift as Ontario when it came to setting up a legal framework, but this has not been the case.

After nearly two years of having the ability to set up a legal framework, Quebec hasn’t budged, but the development of the operator-led Quebec Online Gaming Coalition (QOGC) could be the push Lotto Quebec needs to begin the process of implementing a regulatory framework. Currently, the likes of Bet99, Betway, DraftKings and Fanduel are all involved with the commission, which are all reputable, trustworthy brands according to reviews on the leading bookmaker comparison website My Betting Sites Canada.

While the QOGC has been met with some resistance from Lotto Quebec, the formations of operator-led coalitions to try to sway the positions of the provincial government are not happening in British Colombia, Alberta, or any other provinces for that matter. With persistence, and a bit of well-needed pressure from the QOCC, there is a chance that Quebec will be the next province to launch regulated online gambling in Canada.

Status of Legal Online Gambling in British Columbia

Another province that was early to the “Legalize Online Gambling” party, BC has surprisingly been a province that has been very quiet surrounding the topic of setting up a regulatory framework for offshore bookmakers. As a province with a reputation for being progressive, the gambling community has been surprised that BC hasn’t been as quick to act as Ontario when it comes to setting up a regulated market for offshore sportsbook brands to begin their operations.

British Columbia is the third most populous province in Canada. According to Canadian Data, the largest cohort in BC falls within the 30-34-year-old category, which represents 8% of the province’s population. This is important as it’s an age range that many online sportsbooks look to target, which further goes to show that BC is a worthy provincial market for operators to enter.

Unlike what has been the case with Quebec, there have been no developments from a government or operator perspective to push for the regulation of online gambling in the province. The only significant development that BC has been involved in when it comes to regulation of online gambling in Canada has been with the province’s provision of their state-run sportsbook to Saskatchewan, which has taken the PlayNow product, given it a bit of a Sask-twist, and launched it as the only online gambling product in the province.

Closing thoughts

While it’s clear that the legalization of online gambling isn’t as much of a priority for provinces besides Ontario, there is plenty of potential in these respective markets. The provinces with the most potential are Quebec and British Columbia, and out of these two, Quebec appears to be the province that is most likely to next develop a legal online gambling framework, despite the resistance shown by Lotto Quebec. If the QOGC remain consistent, there is a good chance that Lotto Quebec will break, and begin the long-awaited process of setting up a licensing framework.

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