There’s officially a Canadian in SBC’s Sports Betting Hall of Fame.
Paul Burns, the president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, was one of four industry leaders to be inducted as part of a ceremony on July 13 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Burns played a key role in establishing the CGA — a national trade association that represents leading operators and suppliers in Canada’s gaming, sports betting, esports, and lottery industries — in 2005 and was appointed president and CEO in 2018. He has been responsible for the development of industry-wide research and programs, including a comprehensive study on the economic impact of gaming in Canada and the expansion of the Canadian Gaming Summit conference.
“It’s been a wonderful experience for me to be able to work with all of the terrific people in the industry,” Burns said during his induction speech. “I’ve never had a day I didn’t want to go work because it’s been awesome, and a lot of fun. You’re always learning and meeting new people. The innovation, the growth, the changes. It’s been fantastic. I’ve been blessed and privileged to do this.”
Burns, who said he was “surprised” by his induction, played an instrumental role in getting Ontario‘s regulated iGaming and sports betting markets up and running on April 4 after a long battle to get single-game wagering legalized.
“The push to remove the restriction on single-event wagering began in 2008, and at the time was an effort to have sportsbooks in Canadian casinos,” Burns previously told US Bets. “The introduction of bills in three consecutive parliaments kept the issue in front of M.P.’s, and in 2021, thanks to the efforts of M.P. Kevin Waugh and Senator David Wells, we were able to finally see the amendment pass. And to have it coincide with Ontario’s regulated iGaming market has heightened the impact. Securing the amendment became a passion for me, as I knew it would provide tremendous benefits and opportunity for the Canadian gaming industry.”
— Canadian Gaming Association (@CanadianGaming) July 14, 2022
Amanda Brewer is a seasoned gaming consultant who is now Canada’s country manager for Kindred Group, which recently launched Unibet in Ontario. She’s worked alongside Burns at the CGA as a senior advisor for many years, and feels he’s very deserving of the honor.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Paul for this recognition by the global gaming industry,” Brewer previously told US Bets. “He has been a tireless advocate for the Canadian gaming industry and has been at the forefront of four efforts (three private members bills and one government bill) to legalize sports betting over 10 years and never doubted that, at some point, all the necessary stakeholders would come together and we would have willing partners in the federal government and the Senate. This induction is well deserved and there are many who owe him their thanks for creating the opportunity to legalize single-event sports betting in Canada.”
Still pushing for expansion
Despite the recent online gaming explosion in Canada, Burns is now focused on evolving the country’s retail sector.
“It’s certainly been a long haul, but there’s plenty of work still to be done to maintain gaming momentum in Canada,” Burns said during his speech. “While regulated online sports betting has begun in Ontario, we still haven’t seen casino sportsbooks open in Canada, and I look forward to continuing to work to make that happen.”
The potential launch of retail sportsbooks in Ontario is complicated, as provincial lotteries like the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation have been tasked with the day-to-day operation of casinos. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario regulates and oversees the slots and casino locations in the province that are conducted and managed by the OLG.
Burns also said one of Canada’s biggest future challenges will be to continue to evolve with the rapid advances in technology in the gaming industry.
“We have a great ecosystem of innovators in our country, in terms of the technology development and the pace at which it’s occurring. New products for fan engagement, predictive tools, other pieces that can broaden the sports betting and gaming experience. We need to make sure the evolution continues. … We want to be able to embrace the technology challenges,” he said.
Burns also took some time to speak with Sports Handle‘s Matt Rybaltowski about many of the other issues surrounding Ontario’s online gaming launch, including strict advertising restrictions for operators and the delayed release of the first revenue numbers in the province.
Will Ontario soon ease its rigorous standards on sportsbook promotions? @MattRybaltowski asked Canadian Gaming Association President (and new Sports Betting Hall of Famer) Paul Burns that question:https://t.co/9HfA2vqQz9
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) July 21, 2022
SBC launched the Sports Betting Hall of Fame in 2016 to recognize the individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the sports betting industry. Three other industry leaders — Sandy Drozd, vice president of USBookmaking; Vincent Magliulo, VP of strategic partnerships and marketing with VSiN; and Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa — joined Burns in the Hall of Fame’s class of 2022.