Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo will be one of the thousands of players taking part in the 2012 World Series of Poker main event field, and the BC Lottery Corp. (BCLC) is providing his $10k buy-in. Luongo’s freebie is part of the endorsement deal he inked with BCLC’s online gambling site PlayNow.com back in September 2011 (before Luongo and the Canucks mutually decided to shop his talents to other National Hockey League franchises). In a conversation on Friday with CFOX broadcaster Jeff O’Neil, Luongo admitted the WSOP Main Event Day 1 schedule would be a “long grind,” but noted “I’ve had some long shifts online, so I think I can handle it.” For the record, in the off chance that Luongo makes the WSOP final table in October, he may find himself unable to take part due to the fact that the NHL 2012-13 season will be well underway. Then again, Luongo does wear a mask while playing, so perhaps he could convince good old Canadian boy Jonathan Duhamel (who has experience wearing Canucks colors) to sub for him in net (assuming Duhamel doesn’t make the final himsef, natch).
Also on Friday, PlayNow.com began pimping (see video below) its new sports betting product, which includes live betting, futures, props and more. Before you get too excited, regardless of which option you choose, your winning wager is still required to encompass at least two separate events, as BCLC is still waiting on the federal Senate in Ottawa to finish rubber-stamping the C-290 single-game sports betting bill that passed the House of Commons in March. The most recent action in the Senate was a second reading (of the required three) on May 16 followed by a referral to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, but the Senate is now off for the summer, so BCLC will have to wait at least until fall before taking this car out of first gear.
The promo trumpets PlayNow as “the very first provincially operated online legal gaming website in North America.” The “provincially operated” part is accurate, however, the claim that PlayNow is the first “legal” site is, of course, utter bollocks, as it was never illegal for UK-licensed online gambling sites whose operations did not reside in Canada to offer action to Canadian punters (it’s only provincial lottery outfits like BCLC that are restricted from offering single-game sports betting). BCLC’s odds are provided by Paddy Power, while the sportsbook software is courtesy of OpenBet. OpenBet is among the bidders looking to win the contract to run the proposed online gambling operation of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.
OpenBet aren’t the only ones looking to grow their business. On Tuesday, BCLC president/CEO Michael Graydon told a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon that BCLC hopes to expand its influence beyond its territorial borders. BCLC has already reached a tentative deal with its counterparts in Manitoba on an online site scheduled to launch in 2013, but Graydon says BCLC wants more. “Launching online is a major capital investment, not to mention the level of expertise that it takes to operate and manage the customer base … We have expertise that would be valuable to other regulated gambling jurisdictions.” (Graydon’s use of the word ‘other’ is a bit rich, given that most other regulators don’t also operate their own for-profit gambling businesses; an inherent conflict of interest that equates to no regulation at all, should BCLC decide its regs are taking too big a bite out of its bottom line.) Anyway, did Graydon’s failure to specify Canadian jurisdictions tip his hand as to BCLC’s expansionist aims? Today, Canada… Tomorrow, the world?