On Wednesday, OpenBet announced that it had inked a three-year extension to its current supplier deal with Loto-Quebec. In addition to kicking their adieu date further down the road, OpenBet is providing Loto-Quebec’s online site EspaceJeux with its new mobile portal solution, which launched at the end of 2015.
OpenBet has powered EspaceJeux since its 2010 launch and has ties with other provincial lottery monopolies, including the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, whose OpenBet-powered PlayNow.com also launched in 2010. OpenBet and BCLC recently expanded their relationship via the launch of Sports Pools on PlayNow.
OpenBet says its new Quebec deal reflects Loto-Quebec’s convergence strategy and is “designed to support the planned changes to regulation within the province, that are currently in the process of being passed by the authorities.”
Said changes include the licensing of select private online operators, which has been widely interpreted as a way of allowing Amaya Gaming to legally operate its flagship PokerStars brand in the province. Canadian law prohibits online gambling operators with a physical presence in the country from serving local punters, creating an awkward liability for the Montreal-based Amaya.
OpenBet was recently acquired by NYX Gaming Group with the financial support of UK operators William Hill and Sky Betting & Gaming. The change in ownership prompted Hills to withdraw its online operations from British Columbia and Manitoba, as the latter province shares online technology with PlayNow. Reflecting the Canadian law, Hills claimed the withdrawals were due to “licensing conditions” stemming from its newly acquired 19% stake with the Toronto-listed NYX.
Amaya also has an ownership stake in NYX and the latter firm is said to be keen on twisting Amaya’s rubber arm into switching its Betstars unit to the OpenBet platform. A few more of these incestuous deals and you’ll have a very hard time figuring out where Canada’s provincial gaming monopolies end and where the Amaya/NYX hydra begins.