Ontario Sports Betting by the Numbers: theScore Bet Off to Strong Start

Ontario Sports Betting by the Numbers: theScore Bet Off to Strong Start
By Bill Ordine

Drawing some inference from app downloads, analysts at Morgan Stanley note that theScore betting app, already with a hometown advantage, appears to be getting traction in the early going of regulated Ontario sports betting.

In a note to investors this week, according to Yahoo! News, Morgan Stanley reported (and subsequently updated) that Ontario sports betting app downloads indicate that theScore is strong out of the starting blocks as Ontario unwinds its regulated sports betting and online casino market to include commercial operators.

Opening day for companies looking to compete with the government’s existing gambling operation was April 4.

Morgan Stanley advises that theScore Bet accounted for 35% of overall sports betting app downloads since the April 4 launch (originally Morgan Stanley had said 50%). There was also the significant footnote that app downloads are not indicative of customer spend.

Heading into the regulated sports betting market, theScore Bet brand already had substantial recognition among Canadian sports fans as the country’s top digital sports information outlet. Its parent, Score Media and Gaming Inc., is based in Toronto.

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Penn National’s Deal for theScore

Last year, theScore was acquired by Pennsylvania-based Penn National Gaming in a $2 billion deal in anticipation of Ontario online casinos and sports wagering going live. Penn National’s Canadian strategy mimics it’s U.S. game plan by acquiring a company with an existing user database thereby hoping to save big money on recruiting customers. In America, Penn National’s acquisition in that regard was Barstool Sports.

However, it bears noting that the Ontario online gambling industry is just getting started and while early mover position is important, the challengers, especially the ones already working in America, are expected to come on fast and furious.

More than 20 operators are registered and approved to set up shop in Ontario, although many have been slow to flip the switch on taking wagers.

Morgan Stanley noted that operator Bet365 experienced the second-most downloads in Ontario, with a 27% share, according to Yahoo! News, followed by FanDuel at 16%. Others like Betway, BetMGM, PointsBet Canada and BetRivers Canada had single-digit percentages.

Illustrating that it would be premature to draw any firm conclusions from a couple of weeks of early app download data, Morgan Stanley observed that theScore’s download share hit a high-water mark of 79% on April 4, the first day the Ontario regulated online market opened, and then had a slide.

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theScore Bet is Based in Toronto

Still, theScore is expected to be a formidable competitor even when the challengers who have been working in America get to Ontario. The Toronto-based company just signed a 10-year partnership with MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays which should help tighten its grip on the attention and loyalty of Ontarians.

TheScore Bet has launched operations in the U.S., with a presence in four jurisdictions, Colorado, Indiana, Iowa and New Jersey, with modest success.

Penn National is letting theScore Bet stand on its own in the U.S., while mainly promoting its Barstool Sports brand in America. However, the parent company is apparently going to ride the hometown standing and appeal of theScore in Canada.

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A longtime reporter and editor who began writing on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened, Bill covered the world Series of Poker and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for a decade.

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