NetEnt’s Americas division has received the necessary approval from the British Columbia Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) to supply the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) with its online casino content. The move comes a year after the Swedish iGaming provider left the Canadian market without much fuss.
British Columbia is Canada’s fifth largest province by area and its third by population. The BCLC has been vested with the legal provision of gambling services within the province’s borders. According to the corporation’s latest financial report, it generated revenue of C$3.1 billion in the year ended March 31, 2016.
Commenting on the latest announcement, NetEnt President and CEO Per Eriksson said that they are pleased to be reaching further in their expansion effort. The executive further noted that NetEnt has embarked on an important voyage toward extending its footprint in regulated markets.
As mentioned above, the GPEB license marked NetEnt’s return to Canada, although the supplier will only be providing its products to the regulated British Columbia iGaming space.
Online gambling regulations in Canada are quite fuzzy to say the least. In the first place, it is important to note that it is up to each and every Canadian province and territory to regulate its gambling industry. However, it can be said that to a greater extent the provision of iGaming services is neither legal, nor illegal.
In other words, Canadian players have access to unlicensed operators and their offering. However, under the country’s laws, online gambling operators must provide their operations from outside Canada.
As mentioned above, NetEnt games had previously been available in Canada-facing online casinos. However, it was last spring when the supplier quietly withdrew its games from those same casinos without releasing any official statement on the matter.
In May 2016, it became known that iGaming brands Guts, Rizk, and Betspin, all three owned by Gaming Innovation Group, would no longer offer NetEnt games to Canadian players. Other Canada-facing casinos removed titles by the Swedish provider in the months to come.
NetEnt itself announced in the fall of 2016 that it would apply for a license to provide its content to British Columbia gambling customers.
Although the provider had failed to provide any official reason for its withdrawal from the Canadian iGaming market, it will probably not be wrong to suggest that the overall regulatory environment in the country had been the main driving force behind that decision.
It is also important to note that NetEnt has not been the only gambling company to have pulled out from Canada over the past several years. Gambling operator Ladbrokes quit the market in 2014, citing regulatory concerns and noting that “Canada [was] not a material contributor”. In May 2016, William Hill announced its exit from British Columbia. In the operator’s words, it had been urged to do so due to regulatory challenges.