Manitoba celebrates 10 years of licensed igaming

March 22, 2023 8:02 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
March 22, 2023 8:02 PM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports

Manitoba’s only legal gambling website, PlayNow, is celebrating its 10th anniversary and it seems like there’s no appetite in the province for an openly competitive model like the one in Ontario.

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According to a spokesperson from Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, “PlayNow is the only legal, regulated, multi-product, gaming website in Manitoba. There are no plans at this time to allow other gaming websites to operate legally in Manitoba.” An election, however, is coming up this fall, so Manitoba might be a market to keep an eye on.

As Canadian Gaming Association President and CEO Paul Burns says, gaming isn’t high on any government’s priority list. But there are a lot of eyes in other jurisdictions on the Ontario model, as it’s set to hit its one-year anniversary on April 4.

“It’s not always about money,” Burns says. “It’s about consumer protection. It’s about level playing fields for businesses. A lot of people didn’t think the [Ontario] model was legal, which it is. They wondered about responsible gaming and when they looked deeper [at Ontario], they found some of the most robust responsible-gaming standards in North America.”

Other provinces aren’t likely to copy the Ontario model. Every province and territory will do what’s best for their respective jurisdiction.

PlayNow over its 10 years has generated more than $148.8 million in net profits that have flowed back to government coffers for various public programs. On top of that, $2.2 million has gone to support responsible-gaming initiatives, with $3.6 million going to support the Manitoba Aboriginal Sports & Recreation Council and the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre.

“For the last decade, PlayNow has provided Manitobans an exciting, safe, and fully regulated website on which to play,” said Gerry Sul, acting president & CEO, Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. “Game integrity and player safety have always been priorities at PlayNow and those two critical components set us apart from the many unregulated gambling websites that Manitobans are exposed to. Plus, people can feel good knowing that all net profits from PlayNow stay in Manitoba.

“We’re pleased with the membership growth we’ve experienced in recent years and we will continue working closely with BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corporation), our PlayNow provider and partner, to offer members the latest in online gaming in a safe, secure, and legal environment.”

Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries has a service provider contract with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation to offer PlayNow in Manitoba using BCLC’s platform and service.

As of this past January, 139,000 Manitobans had created player accounts. Like everywhere else in Canada, single-event sports wagering was enabled in August 2021.

PlayNow offers hundreds of casino games like slots, roulette, blackjack, and video poker, sports betting (singles and parlay), in-game betting, and novelty betting, as well as lottery products. When they launched in 2013, PlayNow offered just 23 casino slot games, poker, and sports betting.