On-site sports betting could be the next big thing for B.C. casinos

BCLC endorses sportsbooks

It could be the next big thing for casino operators in B.C. - Vegas-style legalized sports betting.

Sportsbooks have been popular for decades in casinos in Nevada and Atlantic City and, according to BCLC director of eGaming operations Stewart Groumoutis, have been very successful as more states relax laws around sports betting.

Groumoutis says the opportunity could exist in the coming months as the federal government moves through the process of legalizing single-event betting in Canada.

"Absolutely," said Groumoutis when asked if there was interest in bringing sports gambling into casinos.

"Obviously right now, our focus is more primarily on the safe reopening of casinos, but we are watching this bill with interest. We would be looking at bringing sports betting to facilities."

Sports betting is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and, at the present time, Canadians have had to either go across the border to place a bet, or do so through illegal online sites.

"We know the market is there," said Groumoutis, "and we know the operators are fully aware of that.

"I think on all fronts, we are looking at how we can repatriate all of that play. How can we bring the benefit to the casino operators, to the people of B.C."

Groumoutis says there has been interest historically with casino operators to offer on-site sports betting, even with the current parlay requirement which demands players bet on the outcomes on at least two separate events.

He says that interest was always somewhat reserved due to the parlay requirement.

But, with single-event gambling on the horizon, he says that interest is more palatable now.

"They recognize it's a great opportunity to provide a new entertainment option for customers. It's a revenue opportunity, and I'm sure just like us, they've heard from their customers that they are looking for this experience."

Groumoutis does admit BCLC will be ready to go with online single-event betting within weeks of the bill passing, adding it will be a longer roll out for casinos and possibly bars and pubs due to the technology required.

He says an operation such as Chances in Kelowna, which already provides Off Track Betting on horse racing could be in a position to start sooner given the infrastructure is already has in place.

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