Sports betting in Canada’s most populous province could turn into an aerial fight between some of the biggest names in the business.
This province, Ontario, is developing an “open and competitive” market for Internet gaming. The market is currently slated to launch in December and could include new online sports betting that bettors across the province can frequent.
It remains to be seen exactly what sports betting online. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) only recently opened a website for prospective operators to begin preparing for registration with the regulatory body.
But the president and CEO of the Canada Games Association, Paul Burns, said he understood that “several dozen” potential iGaming operators had signed nondisclosure agreements with a subsidiary of AGCO, iGaming Ontario, to receive related documents.
While not all of these operators can apply to participate in the Ontario iGaming market, this suggests that the market has at least attracted the interest of many in the legal sports betting industry. However, there is still a lot of work to be done before the betting can begin.
“There are still a lot of decision points to be communicated,” Burns said in a recent interview with Covers.
Big names, big interest?
However, several online sports betting operators have expressed their interest in Ontario. There have been dropouts of investor names, lobbyist registrations and job postings all of which suggest that the province is indeed a place where some big names are looking to do business.
In particular, the Big Three of the FanDuel Group, BetMGM LLC and DraftKings Inc. have all hinted that they are doing the rounds of the market.
BetMGM is a 50/50 joint venture between MGM Resorts International and Entain Plc, the latter of which announced in March that its non-profit foundation would fund research into “consumer practices, preferences and behaviors” in Ontario.
The UK-based company – which also owns brands such as Ladbrokes – noted at the time that there was legislation in Ottawa that could lead to the legalization of one-game sports betting in Canada and the granting licenses to online operators.
“Entain has already expressed interest in applying for permits in Ontario if and when they are available,” the company said.
This interest apparently persisted. A lobbyist on behalf of BetMGM said in a recent registration with the province’s Integrity Commissioner that the company “will engage with AGCO and iGaming Ontario to become a licensed operator of iGaming and sports betting in the province. Province of Ontario “.
In addition, advertisements for jobs in Canadian sports betting have appeared on the Internet. BetMGM, for example, is looking for a Vice President of Marketing for Canada.
“We are revolutionizing sports betting and online gaming in the United States… and we will be launching in Canada soon! Said the ad.
FanDuel has also recently started advertising a wanted “Campaign and Content Activation Director” in Toronto for “FanDuel Canada”.
The exact location in Canada where the company wishes to activate the content will be revealed in time. However, the only Canadian province that has suggested so far that it would allow online operators like FanDuel to take bets is Ontario.
“In the end, the candidate [be] judged on their ability to leverage integrations and campaigns to generate revenue and acquire new customers at FanDuel Sportsbook & Casino, ”said the job posting.
A spokesperson for FanDuel told Covers he was unable to comment at this time. Yet the chief executive of sports betting parent company Flutter Entertainment Plc has previously mentioned Canada as a possible destination of interest.
“The opportunity for FanDuel looks like it may expand beyond the United States, with recent regulatory advancements in Canada,” Flutter CEO Peter Jackson said during an investor presentation in March. .
Similar sentiments were expressed by one of FanDuel’s main competitors, DraftKings, which has made no secret of its Canadian ambitions (and who recently offered to buy Entain).
A DraftKings presentation at Investor Day in March 2021 included a slide highlighting the “significant rise opportunity” in online sports betting and internet gaming in Canada. The same presentation highlighted Ontario’s path to a competitive online gambling market.
“It wasn’t really something we focused on in last year’s presentation, but due to some very favorable legislative trends, we now believe Canada could represent a very significant opportunity for DraftKings,” said CEO Jason Robins said at Investor Day. “Ontario, of course, has almost half of Canada’s population and it’s also a very important daily fantasy sports market for DraftKings. If Ontario was an American state, it would be one of the top 10 states for us.
DraftKings has since doubled its interest in Canada after the country’s Parliament passed Bill C-218 earlier this year.
The legislation has paved the way for provinces to start allowing single-game sports betting within their borders, which they have so far only allowed to lottery and gaming companies owned by the United States. government. In Ontario, for example, the only online sportsbook authorized to take sports bets on a single match or on parallel sports bets is PROLINE + from Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.
But following the passage of C-218, DraftKings reiterated its interest in Canada to Covers.
“As a customer-centric company, we are excited about the potential opportunity to bring the DraftKings sports betting experience to Canadian sports fans,” said Griffin Finan, associate general counsel and vice president of business government, in a press release in June.
There are likely a number of other sports betting beyond the Big Three rushing into Ontario. Some may still keep their ambitions to themselves for now, such as the “gray” market sports betting operators who could come out of the cold and be regulated in Ontario rather than overseas.
Australia’s PointsBet Holdings Ltd., which grew its business in Canada, is a highly praised sports betting operator in Ontario. PointsBet said in a presentation to investors in August that it plans to launch in 11 other U.S. states, as well as Ontario, by the end of 2022.
– Bob Williams (@ WilliamsBob75) June 23, 2021
However, one of the operators who has been most optimistic about the province’s potential is Score Media and Gaming Inc.
The Toronto-based company, better known as theScore, recently agreed to be acquired by Penn National Gaming Inc., owner of Barstool Sportsbook.
But even under a new owner, theScore still aims to be a player in Canada, and Ontario in particular. Penn CEO Jay Snowden also said in August that the company’s “primary brand” in Canada would remain theScore.
“We think Ontario will be ready to go into service in some sort of December, January, February schedule,” Snowden said on a conference call for analysts and investors. “So there are going to be clearly significant investments in Ontario for theScore as they prepare to launch. “
Watch and wait
When the Ontario iGaming market launches, it could be closely watched. Its success or failure can send a strong signal to other provinces, inspiring them to follow suit or stick to their restricted sports betting models.
On September 13, AGCO opened the website that future iGaming operators must use to apply for registration with the regulator. Even after they have accomplished this, operators still need to enter into a commercial contract with an AGCO subsidiary, iGaming Ontario, before they can start taking bets.
AGCO does not want urgent work either. Sportsbooks wanting to get in on the action in Ontario will need to do their homework first.
“It is the completeness of the information provided in the request and not the date on which a request is first submitted that will determine how quickly AGCO will be able to process it,” the regulator said.