Good morning members of the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce.
My name is Stewart Groumoutis, and I’m BCLC’s Director of eGaming Operations. With me is my colleague Dr. Jamie Wiebe, BCLC’s Director of Player Health.
Since 1985, approximately $25 billion from BCLC’s revenue has gone back to B.C. to support important societal investments like healthcare, education, and community programs.
B.C. has 16 casinos, 17 community gaming centres, 35-hundred lottery retail and hospitality locations, and PlayNow.com, which captures two-thirds of B.C.’s total online gambling market.
We believe single-event sports betting represents a significant opportunity for B.C. and all of Canada. While more than $1 billion dollars is estimated to be wagered annually in B.C. on sports, we know B.C. players are already making single-event sports bets, whether by heading south of the border to Washington State casinos, or on unregulated off-shore websites. Neither of these options return revenue to the Province of B.C., nor do they support B.C. jobs.
In fact, we estimate that $250 million in additional revenue over the last five years has been lost to off-shore websites because we are unable to offer singles, and bets on racing and fighting.
With the approval of singles, we estimate the total market for sports betting in B.C. would be $125 to $175 million in revenue, net of prizes. And we believe BCLC could capture the majority of that market.
If legalized, BCLC would be able to provide these offerings to players almost immediately on PlayNow.com, creating a suite of new sports-betting opportunities that are already being offered on off-shore websites.
In the mid- to long-term, we would also introduce singles to land based casinos and our lottery and hospitality markets.
We also believe regulated provincial gambling organizations are uniquely positioned to provide single-event betting in a safe and secure way that prioritizes player health.
As part of our enhancements to player-health on PlayNow.com, BCLC is working to identify play indicators of high risk and problem gambling levels, proactively intervening when we believe players are experiencing harms, and exploring incentives for healthy-play behaviours through play-based rewards. These new initiatives will work in tandem with the player-health safeguards we already have on PlayNow.com.
PlayNow.com is also the only online gambling website in North America and one of the few in the world which has dedicated player-health specialists available to our online players via phone and live chat to provide informed decision making and help support them with healthy play.
We believe single-event sports betting in Canada is something we are all ready for. We urge you and your colleagues within the Senate to work collaboratively to make this a reality for the benefit of Canadian players and our provinces.
Delivered to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce on June 4, 2021 by BCLC’s eGaming Director of Operations Stewart Groumoutis and BCLC’s Director of Player Health Dr. Jamie Wiebe