Just Because Sports Betting is Legal in Canada Doesn’t Mean it’s Not Risky
On August 27, 2021, single-event sports betting became legal all across Canada. That was the day millions of Canucks threw out their parlay slips in favor of straight-up bets. It opened a whole new world of odds and wagers; a world sports fans all over the Great White North had been waiting decades to explore.
It’s not that single-event wagers weren’t available to Canadians. International online sportsbooks have been happily accepting Canadians since the late 1990s. These sites weren’t illegal, either. They just weren’t authorized by any Canadian authority or regulatory body. Gambling with an offshore operator increases the level of risk. If anything goes wrong – if an operator decides to go rogue, or refuses what you believe is a legitimate payout – there’s no provincial authority to submit your complaint to; no local watchdog helping to protect the interest of Canadian users.
Now that it’s legal in Canada, and has been for just over a year, there’s another issue we feel requires some attention…
Sports Betting is Legal in Canada, but It’s Still Risky
Now that the floodgates of legal sports gambling are open, millions of people are all too eager to ride the rapids. There’s nothing wrong with placing a few bets, mind you. Our website’s authors and editors do it with all the regularity of a high-fiber diet. But legality does not and cannot eliminate the inherent risk factor.
Gambling in and of itself is a risky business. Every wager comes with odds – the odds that you’ll win, versus the odds that you’ll lose. And if you’re placing bets through any live or online sportsbook, the odds are never in your favor. If you know the sport, the athletes, and all the intricate little details that might give one side an edge over the other, you can place strategic bets to win more often. But such brilliance belongs only to professionals, and even they suffer the inevitable pendulum of downswings.
The truth is, most sports gamblers are just average aficionados. For these punters, minimizing the risk factor is less about betting with an authorized gambling site in Canada, and more about making proper decisions in money management.
Don’t Get Caught Up in Wins and Losses
One of the most important lessons young novices need to understand is how easy it is to get caught up in the action. Watching your favorite team play is fun. Having money on them to win can make it seem a lot more fun. But when you try to recover a loss with another bet, and another, then doubling up to recover more quickly… that’s where the real risks lie.
Addictive behavior can sneak up on your like a bad hangover. It’s all fun and games until you wake up the next morning with a splitting headache, praying to the porcelain God. The point is, you don’t realize you have a problem until it’s too late. So, the best plan of action is to be fully aware of all you’re betting, winning, and losing, at all times.
Start with a reasonable amount of money you can afford to throw away on entertainment, because that’s what gambling it is – entertainment. Bet a little on this, maybe a little on that, keeping a list of every bet you make. Write down the winners and losers, and at the end of the day, mark how much you’re up or down.
Knowing exactly where you’re at on the profit/loss margin at all times can make all the difference. So long as you follow that first rule – only betting what you can truly afford to do without – you won’t be devastated if you lost it all.
The Dangers of a ‘Deeper Lever’ Experience
It’s not just concerned elders or psychologists that are pointing out the risks of compulsive behavior in Canada’s wide-open gambling market. Even the companies that are profiting most from it – the big-wig executives, sitting behind their big mahogany desks – admit that sports betting takes fans to a whole different level.
CPA Jared Beber is the CEO of Toronto-based Sports Venture Holdings, owner of Bet99. He believes betting on sports is a way for fans to feel like they’re more involved in the action; like they’re actively taking part in the games. He compares the entertainment of sports betting to that of seeing a film in a movie theater.
“Why does someone go to the movies? It’s an experience. With betting, it’s a way to experience the sport on a deeper level. You can interact with athletes in an indirect way and root for your favourite player because you have something riding on it.”
And that’s what they want you to do – keep on betting. Because every bet you make is another dollar in their pockets. As I said before, there’s nothing wrong with it. Sports betting is legal in Canada because the majority of people want it to be legal. The key is to do it responsibly, without getting falling for all the hype. It’s precisely why the province of Ontario is so strict on the unsolicited advertisement of inducements.
AGCO Says: Just The Facts, Without the Frills
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) lays forth strict regulatory guidelines for social responsibility. The one rule that some operators can’t seem to get right is the one that limits public marketing campaigns to ‘facts, no frills’.
If you join a gambling site, giving the operator your email and consenting to regular promotional materials, then that site has every right to email you with news of a juicy bonus offer or info on their latest promotions. But if that operator puts up a billboard on the highway, or airs an ad on the radio station, telling of a generous bonus or other inducing reasons to gamble at their website, that’s a direct breach of Ontario’s gaming laws.
It’s not that they can’t advertise. They just have to be careful how they advertise. An online casino can say, “Hey, we have a lot of fun games,” in hopes that you’ll want to come try them. But they cannot say, “Hey, come try our games for free with x-amount of bonus dollars!”
It’s this very type of marketing behavior that’s gotten a number of Ontario’s iGaming brands in trouble already, and it hasn’t even been four months since the launch of their competitive market. BetMGM and PointsBet were the first to receive fines for ‘advertising and inducement infractions’. The notice went out May 3, detailing $48k and $30k penalties, respectively. Then on June 20, DraftKings took a $100k hit – the largest yet from the AGCO. Another $48k fine was handed to Unibet ON on August 25.
The Moral of the Story
The lesson in all this is a dire need for responsibility; the social responsibility of the operators authorized to host live sports books and online gambling services in Canada, and the personal responsibility of the players who choose to take advantage of the fact that the popular variety of sports betting is legal in Canada.
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