Europe-based online gambling giant Betfair has suddenly announced its impending departure from the Canadian markets in an e-mail sent out to existing members a few days ago. The message states that any remaining Sportsbook bets that were placed on the site will be cancelled, the website will be taken down, and all other content will be blocked from usage by Canadian citizens. This announcement came with little warning beforehand and stands out as a shock to the gambling community as yet another establishment to pull its content from the country of Canada.
Similar exits from the Canadian gambling industry were made by Matchbook and Ladbrokes last year, occurring in July 2014 and September 2014 respectively. Following this trend, Betfair has advised its Canadian members to withdraw any remaining funds before the official date of January 14th, 2016, when services will no longer be available. Any remaining balances after this date will have to be settled with Betfair’s customer service, which is bound to cause a massive amount of problems due to the high volume of memberships from Canada. Betfair has planned a merger with Paddy Power, an Irish betting establishment that had previously removed itself from the market within Canada and seems to be a main reason behind this new exit.
These signs of trouble may have to do with pressure from Canadian governing bodies regarding online betting resources from outside providers. Much legislation related to the free and fair use of online gambling sites has failed to pass through and be accepted as law, which results in difficulty for casinos to operate in the country and its provinces. The prime example is Quebec, where the government is attempting to enforce a ban on third party gambling sites in an effort to boost revenue for its own lottery. However, the constitutionality behind the measure is questionable at the very least and will have a hard time picking up steam due to partisan shifts in the Canadian government.
Betfair’s campaign for marketing its products and services to Canadian members came to a halt in the beginning of 2013, though it still operated and offered online gambling to everyone during this time. This could be due in part to the fact that Betfair did not have a very strong economic presence in Canada during the time that it was operational there. The Canadian government’s refusal to evolve in terms of its gambling laws and a low market for such services have proven to be a combination that Betfair does not want a part of any longer.