Canadian lottery corporations that accept sports bets have been trying to compete with online sportsbooks for many years, but it's long been a losing battle. In 2004, the British Columbia government created PlayNow.com, but a recent study has shown that the government website has some serious flaws.
In a week where the BCLC announced a partnership with MGM Resorts, new research showed that 46% of the online casino revenue they earn comes from just 5% of its players. That's definitely concerning for the brand as it goes to show how frail their sustainability could be if their whales decided to swim to a sportsbook offshore. If they do not get more players to shoulder the load, they likely will not be able to last in the long run.
The findings, which came via researchers from the University of British Columbia, recorded one month of data in June 2015. Overall, there were over 48 million bets made in that month. However, it also showed that most of their activity came from a small percentage of their users. Although there were over 41,000 of them, the top 20% in terms of active players actually made about 82% of the bets at PlayNow.com. The top 5% in terms of active players were even more influential as they made almost 46% of the plays in the online casino.
This turned about to be 619 players, who made a total of 12,594 bets in June 2015. On average, the plays came out to about $6.40 per bet, which equals out to just over $66,000 for an entire month's worth of action. These players were making an astounding 420 bets per day, on average.
Of course, not only was this lukewarm news for BCLC, since it shows that they are relying on a few to carry the load, it has also brought out those who are in opposition to gambling. These people are saying that the BCLC is targeting those with gambling issues, and when you see that some players are betting 420 times per day and over $66,000 a month, it's easy to make that case.
However, we have to take a lot of the statistics with a grain of salt as they don't show how much they're paying out to the players (slots are required to pay out a certain percentage) or even what they're losing. It is only their overall action. At the same time, when it comes to slots, we know that players are going to lose in the long run, so the people putting up $66,000 in action probably are losing thousands - if not tens of thousands - every month.
Beyond that, the BCLC has to answer questions as to why they're the only shop in town. Customers don't seem to have any other legal choices for online casino action and the fact that the B.C. government won't allow other licenses is also riling up pro-gambling advocates. Since the consumer doesn't have options, the BCLC seems to have free reign on operations and payouts, and - until this study - has mostly been unchecked.
Don't expect much to come of this news, though, as the government is content collecting its profits from BCLC and senses no urgency to make any types of changes.