Swedish company Net Entertainment (NetEnt), a major developer of software suites and backend solutions for more than a hundred online casino platforms, recently announced that Canadian customers would no longer be able to access its games and promotions at three online casino brands.
Players living in Canada will be prohibited from playing NetEnt-powered games at Guts Casino, Betspin Casino, and Rizk Casino effective immediately. Each of the three online casino brands is owned and managed by the Malta-based iGaming firm Gaming Innovation Group.
Additionally, several promotions which were managed by NetEnt are now unavailable to Canadian players, including the “100 Free Spins” awarded by Guts Casino and Betspin Casino, and the “Free Welcome Spin” found on the Wheel of Rizk at Rizk Casino.
Canadian players will still be able to register for accounts and play on each of the three online casino platforms, but their access will be limited to non-NetEnt games and services only.
Those with balances remaining at either Guts Casino, Betspin Casino, or Rizk Casino will still be able to withdraw their funds per the usual process.
The move comes less than two years after NetEnt rolled out an ambitious plan, headed by executive Bjorn Krantz, to expand the company’s global presence by entering the North American marketplace.
While the Canadian element of that initiative appears to be in limbo for the foreseeable future, NetEnt has developed a foothold in New Jersey, providing software services to several of the state’s newly legalized and fully regulated online casino platforms.
No explanation for the decision has been offered by NetEnt as of yet, but the company’s withdrawal from the Canadian marketplace comes as no surprise to industry experts. By willingly departing from Canada and cutting ties with customers there, NetEnt continues the widespread exodus by iGaming software firms which has taken place in recent years.
In May of this year the U.K.-based William Hill, a venerable titan of the gambling industry, shuttered its services throughout Canada. English online betting exchange Betfair denied access to Canadian customers in late 2015, while rival Ladbrokes did the same in 2014. The Irish-based online gambling giant Paddy Power withdrew from the Canadian market in 2011.
Addressing customers living in the province of British Columbia, management at William Hill informed them that “this decision has been taken for regulatory reasons beyond our control and with very short notice.”
Other online casino operators and software providers, including NetEnt, have remained silent as to their reasons for severing ties with Canada. Officially, online gambling is legal in the country, but the service is to be provided by provincial operators only.
Due to a curious loophole in the legal language, however, international operators like NetEnt and William Hill are permitted to serve Canadian customers – provided no offices, employees, equipment, or servers are located within the country’s borders.
Industry insiders have expressed concern that the abrupt departure of NetEnt, considered alongside the similar actions taken by competitors in recent years, may signal an impending change to Canadian iGaming laws.
NetEnt has been a leading player within the world of online casino game design and software development since 1996. The company employs over 550 people in Malta, Stockholm, Gothenburg, Kiev and Gibraltar.