People in Ontario can now play on world-class iGaming sites within a safe and regulated framework. They can bet on casino games, sporting events and other gambling activities through registered online websites and smartphone apps in the provincially regulated market.
While single-game sports betting has been legal in Canada since last summer, the industry only fully opened up in Ontario on 12.01 A.M. on Monday, 4th April. PointsBet announced just 50 seconds into the launch its “first big wager” – A $500 two-leg parlay of North Carolina over Kansas in the NCAA men’s basketball final and Toronto Maple Leafs over the Tampa Bay Lightning, both on Monday night.
“Today is a great day for Ontario sports fans,” said Scott Vanderwel, the chief executive officer of PointsBet Canada. “I’d like to share how thrilled we are to see the province’s sports wagering market officially open.”
Last month, PointsBet reached a partnership with the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks. In August 2021, the CFL announced a multi-year partnership with BetRegal that made it the league’s official online sports gaming partner.
Many bettors in the province have been active for years in the so-called “grey market,” with their wagers going offshore. Now, with the industry being regulated, the Ontario government will secure revenues from it. With a population of around 15 million people, the province is expected to generate about $800 million in gross revenue this year.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) said in a statement. ”Today’s milestone achievement helps realize the government of Ontario’s objectives of proving consumer choice, ensuring player protection and supporting the crown of the legal iGaming market.” They added, “Though not every operator will be ready to launch their services today, more and more will come online as they become ready. Players will soon be able to play on their preferred sites with the assurance that those sites are being closely monitored for game integrity, player protections and responsible gaming.”
As of Friday, 27 online gambling operators had an approval. Click here for the full list. More have registered but haven’t yet secured agreements with iGaming Ontario yet. One that did was FanDuel, an online gaming operator, which signed a multi-year deal with broadcaster TSN on Monday. FanDuel will integrate with TSN across platforms, including in-game broadcast, digital marketing, mobile apps and co-branding opportunities.
While Ontarians missed out on the Super Bowl and NCAA’s Men’s Basketball Tournament (with an estimated US$3.1 billion in bets on the tournament alone by roughly 45 million people, as per the American Gaming Association), there’s a full array of other European and world sports events for interested parties to wager on.
Also officially launching Monday was the Score Bet, a subsidiary of Penn National Gaming, Inc., headquartered in Toronto. Pennsylvania, which has a 34 per cent tax rate on sports betting and a population of around 12.8 million, accumulated just over US$500 million in legal gaming revenue in 2021.
“(Monday’s) launch is significant as it expands Penn National’s online gaming business to a jurisdiction that is expected to be one of the largest regulated markets in North America,” said Jay Snowden, the president/CEO of Penn National. “We’re proud to enter this market behind a trusted and authentic Canadian brand that resonates deeply with Ontarians.”
However, not everyone was pleased with the launch. Woodbine Entertainment, Canada’s largest betting company, but has been unable to integrate its pari-mutuel horse racing into online legal sportsbooks and worries that an expanded sports-betting market could have a detrimental impact upon their industry.
Lawson said, “We’ve understood almost from the beginning they (sports betting platforms) were all very interested in horse racing and if they wanted it they would have to buy it from Woodbine. That was the premise, which we’ve been advancing. They were anxious to work with us on an operating agreement and host our content on their platform, which would have been great for racing because it would have been huge exposure for it.”
The launch day per se ensued the general chaos like apps not working, complaints from online gamblers about erased deposit balances to geolocation issues and more.