Maybe what we should be taking friendly wagers on is a launch date for an open and competitive market, when Ontario will be fully licensed and regulated for internet casino and legal Ontario online sports betting.
A go-live date in December, which had been the projected start date on the iGaming Ontario website (a subsidiary of the regulatory Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario), has been pushed into 2022, according to the Canadian Gaming Association.
That’s not a surprise, since industry stakeholders have been saying this was likely for online sports betting and online casino in Ontario. That has been their gut instinct for months.
As Paul Burns, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, said in October, “the devil is in the details,” and there are a lot of details to work out. Tax rates are one (the CGA has recommended an 90-10 rev share model).
“A few (private operators) have put in applications, but everybody is waiting to understand what some of the last details are,” Burns said. “And when we can assess the final opening day for the market, that will dictate what a lot of people do. But we are getting close to where companies are going to have to make their applications if they’re going to be ready in time.”
Aly Lalani, head of marketing from one of those players, Betregal Ontario Casino, said this week that based on what he had been hearing, December was always “ambitious but unrealistic,” and he projects a launch date for Q2 2022.
“I don’t think we are taking regulated bets before Super Bowl (Feb. 13),” he said. “I am a little more on the pessimistic side, in terms of how government and regulation works. We still have a few months.”
He added the process is moving forward on the BetRegal application, but he can’t say what stage they are at.
Penn National CEO Jay Snowden said in a Q3 earnings call this week that he is projecting a mid-Q1 launch, which would put it around February. And Amanda Brewer, an adviser to the CGA, and the new Country Manager (Canada) for Kindred Group (responsible for getting Unibet and 32Red launched in Ontario when the market opens), told us her “best guess” is some time in February.
Legalized sports betting in Canada launched in August. Online gambling generates around $1 billion per year in spending, most of that (70%) going to unregulated, gray-market websites.