April 4 is Launch Date for Regulated Ontario Sports Betting and iGaming

April 4 is Launch Date for Regulated Ontario Sports Betting and iGaming
By Mark Keast

The wait is finally over for Ontario sports betting and iGaming. April 4 is the launch date for a licensed, regulated iGaming market in Ontario.

The date for sports betting and Ontario casino sites was announced Friday by iGaming Ontario (iGO), a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) in a news release.

“Consumers can be assured that companies who successfully enter the new Ontario market will have met rigorous standards of game and operator integrity, fairness, player protections and social responsibility, allowing all players to play with confidence,” Martha Otton, iGO executive director, said in the release. “Prevention of underage access, ensuring compliance with applicable laws including anti-money laundering rules and regulations, and measures to enable more responsible gambling are just a few of the assurances consumers can expect in the new market as of April 4.”

The news was welcomed by the gaming industry.

“This is another major milestone and achievement for Ontario’s gaming industry after sports betting,” Canadian Gaming Association president and CEO Paul Burns said. “The move to establish a regulated iGaming market in this province will ensure that the people of Ontario have access to safe and legal gambling options online while encouraging investment and job creation in Ontario."

"We finally have the opportunity to safeguard the economic benefits that will start to flow to licensed gaming operators and the provincial government."

Up to now, the only way to bet legally on sports in the province has been via the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s PROLINE+ product.

Many of the large online gaming and sports betting operators are known to have interest in the Ontario, which would potentially be one of the largest markets in North America. Those companies include PointsBet, DraftKings, BetRegal, theScore Sportsbook Ontario , Northstar and others.

According to studies Ontario would be the prized market in Canada — with a potential $11.1 billion in annual wagering and more than $800 million in operator revenue annually. That would make Ontario one of the larger markets in North America.

Revenue Share Will Be Key

Revenue share model will be one of the first issues to focus on when the formal government announcement about the launch date is made. Burns referenced a proposed model of 80-20, in which the government takes 20%.

“They need to make sure they offer a robust offering in the marketplace,” Burns said in the fall. “Because if there is a lot of choice and opportunity inside a legal, regulated marketplace people won’t need to go looking elsewhere (grey market).

“I don’t think people appreciate the size of the grey market that’s been here. And that’s what we are trying to encourage the government to understand, that there is a need to be able to offer a robust offering. They have been receptive to our message. We were hoping for something better (rev share), and maybe we will still see it.”

Welcome News for Operators

Industry officials were pleased to see a date announced for the launch.

“I am thrilled to have a market open date for Ontario,” said Amanda Brewer, country manager (Canada) for Kindred Group. “This marks the first licensed and regulated gaming market in Canada, and Kindred Group is excited to be part of it. We will be ready for launch day.”

Said Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada, in a statement: “With an official launch date now announced, PointsBet Canada is thrilled to continue realizing our mission of delivering an authentically Canadian gaming experience to Ontario’s great sports fans.”

During an earnings call Thursday, PointsBet pointed to online casino opportunities new markets like Ontario’s could present.

“The continued growth of the iGaming product is going to be vitally important,” PointsBet CEO Sammy Swanell said. “Sport came back post-COVID in the middle of 2020, sort of had to restart the business. And so, we think by the end of next financial year, we're turning profitable.”



Mark Keast

Mark Keast has recently covered the sports betting industry in Canada for The Parleh, and is a long-time sportswriter and editor, most notably with the Toronto Sun.

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