Betfair Plans Exit from Canada Online Gambling Market
With little fanfare and absolutely no corporate announcement to date, prominent European online gambling site Betfair will be ending its Canada-facing gambling services, effective January 14th, 2016.
Little explanation was offered to customers for the withdrawal from Canada, with the customers receiving the news in a brief, terse e-mail this week as follows:
We are sorry to inform you that as of 14th January 2016, Betfair’s products will no longer be available to residents of Canada.
On 14th January 2016 Canadian residents will no longer be able to place bets and Betfair shall close it’s [sic] website. All outstanding Sportsbook bets will be cancelled, you will no longer be able to place new exchange bets and all gaming products will be blocked. Please note that all outstanding Exchange bets will remain in place until 14th January 2016, so please ensure you manage any positions you have open in advance of this date.
Please also ensure you withdraw any funds you have in advance of 14th Janurary 2016. You will only be able to witdraw [sic] any winnings, or leftover funds after 14th Janurary [sic] by contacting our helpdesk.
For more information, head to the FAQs.
The brief, grammar-poor missive hardly befits a company as prominent as Betfair, though it does represent another piece in the growing plight of Canada’s online-playing punters. Whether its sports betting, online poker or casino games, Canadians are perhaps even more strapped than their US brethren south of the border in finding sites on which to play. Even the classic “offshore” site, Biodog (or Bovada, as it’s known in the States), doesn’t offer its services in Canada.
The political situation regarding online gambling is as fluid and disruptive as any country in the world, and that certainly had to factor into Betfair’s decision. A nationwide Canadian sports-betting bill failed to pass the nation’s senate last year, though a new version of the bill has been introduced and is slowly gaining support. On the flip side, Quebec’s provincial government continues to threaten the implementation of a province-wide blacklist against international sites, in an attempt to strengthen the Quebec Lotteery’s legal online lottery. (That the blacklist itself is unconstitutional is a major complicating factor in Quebec’s plans.)
But the biggest reason behind Betfair’s pending Canadian pullout may well be the cmpany’s own transition, in particular its ongoing with Irish gaming giant Paddy Power. Paddy Power has nor served the Canadian market in quite some time, citing the country’s ongoing “gray market” status when it pulled the plug there in 2011. Aligning Betfair’s list of countries served to match that of Paddy’s is very likely on the combined company’s agenda. Paddy also provides lottery services and support in British Columbia, and likely wished to stay in the generalized good graces of Canadian authorities.
Also left unstated on most news reports covering Betfair’s exit from Canada is the fact that the company’s presence wasn’t that strong there to anyway. Betfair ended its active marketing efforts in Canada nearly three years ago, way back in January of 2013, even if it never pulled the plug on new signups, deposits and withdrawals. Betfair pulled out of 10 or so gray-market countries back then (or at least ended its marketing efforts) all in what can now be looked back at and declare to have been a hedged bet. Canada hasn’t gotten with the times in the three years that have since passed, and since Betfair itself has transitioned, it’s leavin’ time.
There is no marketing in my country, which is also a grey country, but we still have Betfair.