Bodog brand founder Calvin Ayre showed up at this week’s Canadian Gaming Summit in Vancouver to offer insights into the current and future makeup of Canada’s online gambling industry to CalvinAyre.com’s Stephanie Raquel.
In Canada, virtually all forms of gambling – lotteries, casinos, video lottery terminals in bars and clubs, online gambling, etc. – fall under the purview of government-owned provincial monopolies, such as the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), Ontario Lottery & Gaming, Loto Quebec, etc.
Noting that “by definition, monopolies are hard to screw up,” Bodog brand founder Calvin Ayre forecast a “strong” future for Canada’s gambling industry. However, Ayre also noted that monopolies “are also not the best at delivering product to consumers,” and thus there will always be a role for other operators, including internationally licensed online gambling sites, in the Canadian market.
Ayre believes international gambling sites subject to external regulatory oversight can actually offer Canadian gamblers a greater degree of security than provincial monopoly sites like BCLC’s PlayNow.com, because the monopolies have a contradictory dual role as both operator and regulator.
Provincial gambling monopoly execs love to tag international gambling sites with the pejorative ‘unregulated’ tag, but Ayre says the monopolies’ inherent conflict of interest between regulatory oversight and the need to produce profits for government coffers means BCLC better fits the definition of an “unregulated operator.”
Ayre, who has always approached the gambling business from the point of view of the consumer, believes that when governments decide to create a gaming industry, they also need to decide “whether they’re doing it for their interest or for the needs of consumers.” Ayre says there is “consistent” evidence across all business sectors that government monopolies “do not deliver value to consumers.”
Ayre suggests a better way forward would be for governments to allow proper third-party regulation of their own operations, then open up their markets to private sector operators to ensure consumers derive the benefits of a truly competitive marketplace. Ayre doesn’t believe governments would be foregoing any revenue by taking this path as taxes on private operator gaming would provide an additional revenue stream.
Ayre is also a staunch advocate for the online gambling industry’s adoption of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency and the Blockchain technology that underpins Bitcoin use, and he views the “trustless” nature of Bitcoin Blockchain transactions leading to significant changes ahead for gaming regulators like BCLC.
While Ayre insists there will always be a role for gaming regulators, Ayre sees them becoming “less relevant” as Bitcoin continues to “eat the online gaming industry.”