One of the leading providers of casino software technology, Net Entertainment, has officially pulled out from the Canadian market. For major casino operators, such as BetSpin Casino, BetsCasino and RitzCasino, it means that they will not be able to utilize some of the major features of popular casino games, operated by NetEnt. All of the three online casinos are owned by the Malta based company, Gaming Innovations Group. It is particularly notable that Canadian players will be able to play some of the games that utilize Net Entertainment technology; however, NetEnt will not provide licensing to any casino in Canada, which also means that casino players cannot achieve special bonuses.
According to analysts, the move from Swedish based Net Entertainment is not surprising because multiple companies, in the past, pulled from Canadian market due to its “grey” border-line online gambling laws. For instance, it is legal in Canada to participate in online gambling. Still, there is no conclusive clause that also prohibits Canadian citizens to gamble online in other countries. Therefore, it is also possible that off-shore operators in the Canadian market are committing a crime by luring Canadian customers to bet online in offshore casinos licensed in localities such as Malta and Gibraltar.
In the context, similar legal clause also makes anyone including software designers and payment operators liable for penalties. As a result, software designers such as Net Entertainment are always exposed to the “grey laws” of Internet gambling. Perhaps, the “grey area” is demonstrated by the fact that Canada is a member of WTO, which stresses the fact that if a country is to allow online gambling in its jurisdiction, it must also allow its residents to gamble offshore. Still, provincial clauses also pose problems as they counteract WTO provision by stating that if a province disallows online gambling, it must also prohibit off-shore online gambling.
Analysts insist that Canadian laws pertaining to online gambling are riddled with controversy. As a result of differences in the treaties signed by Canada under international laws and individual provincial laws, it becomes very challenging for international operators and software companies to operate in Canada. In fact, operating in Canada under the umbrella of different regulations makes software providers such as Net Entertainment prone to breach of laws. Perhaps, these controversial laws are also the primary reason why William Hill, the giants of Casino industry, also ceased its operations in one of the top gambling spots, British Colombia. In a related email to their customers, officials did not give any reasons for closure, but they claimed that the closing is due to reasons, which are beyond their control. Surely, William Hill wanted to describe its ongoing legal dilemmas of operating online casinos in the province. Operations of the company ended on May 10. Still, the company ensured all of its clients that they will be able to withdraw funds at any time.
The recent exit of Net Entertainment is the first major incident of a large software provider leaving the country. Actually, the online casino industry in Canada is severely hit by a number of recent high-profile exists by leading international players. In 2011, Paddy Power, the leader in online casino games, left the country. Less than an year later, Ladbrokes also exited the Canadian industry without giving any particular reason. Just a year earlier, Betfair had blocked Canadian customers to access its huge range of online portfolio.
Net Entertainment, popularly known as NetEnt is the premier provider of innovative gaming content, which enabled the company to win numerous industry awards. For example, the company won three important eGaming Review Awards at the industry fair held in Tower of London. It is due to the quality of products that Net Entertainment is able to penetrate other major markets including the neighboring, United States. As such, the software developer has contracts with major casino operators in New Jersey. It is also looking to provide services in Las Vegas and Delaware. In New Jersey, the company has recently signed deals with two operators. Net Entertainment will offer software to the famed Poker-Stars Casino in New Jersey. In addition to the contract, Gamesys-Tropicana signed a deal to introduce Net Entertainment software in its portfolio.
A Toronto based lawyer, Michael Lipton, suggested that the companies are pulling away from the market not because of the “grey areas” in the law. Instead, these companies are aware of the Canadian laws, which covers almost all different provisions. As legal matters pertaining to particular provisions become clearer, the gambling operators choose to exit rather than face persecution.