Nic Sulsky, PointsBet Canada’s chief commercial officer, recently alluded to a deal with Curling Canada, but the significance wasn’t readily apparent.
When he was asked about the launch of the new hockey season, and the projected popularity of NHL betting in Ontario, Sulsky ended his comment with this nugget:
“The more interesting question may be whether sports like curling, that have almost no popularity in America, will have an impact on how the market shakes out North of the 49,” he said at the time.
On Oct. 13, PointsBet Canada spoke with its actions, announcing that the Canadian wing of the global online gaming provider is the new official partner of Curling Canada.
Curling Canada is the sanctioning body for the sport in Canada. Its primary function is to sanction and run national curling championships like the Tim Hortons Brier (Canadian men’s curling championship) and the Scotties Tournament of Hearts (Canadian women’s curling championship).
As part of the agreement, PointsBet Ontario will also become a title sponsor of a Curling Canada Season of Champions event, beginning in the 2022-23 season.
What impressed Curling Canada chief executive officer Katherine Henderson was the sincere interest PointsBet showed in further growing the sport.
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“They sought to know us, our game, our ambitions and aspirations,” she told OntarioBets.com, “Our purpose at Curling Canada is more curlers, curling better, and more fans and that purpose dovetailed in a really nice way with the approach of PointsBet as a partner. They are working with us to promote curling and they are committed to creating new and innovative ways for curlers and curling fans to engage with our events.
“We also know that PointsBet has some top tier partners such as the NHL, NBA, WNBA, NFL, MLB, and the PGA TOUR. We appreciate that they are an industry leader in creating great content and fun ways to engage with sport, but also have best-in-class practices to protect the integrity of contests.”
Financial details are confidential, she added, but it’s a long-term partnership that takes effect immediately. Henderson calls it a “strong marketing partnership.” No doubt it will be fun to see how bettors can engage with Curling Canada events.
’Deeply Rooted in Our Nation’s Identity’
As PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel said in a news release, it’s important that PointsBet partner with sports organizations “deeply rooted in our nation’s identity.”
Curling is played in every province and territory, in 1,000 clubs, by almost 2 million per year in Canada (pre-pandemic). There are more than 300 hours of Curling Canada events on television each year, and the national championships for both men’s and women’s always score big ratings.
“Curling is a game of strategy and athleticism where our elite players create stunning displays of both,” Henderson said. “The situation changes constantly, things are decided in centimetres, and, as tournaments progress, momentum and excitement builds. Fans are incredibly invested in the teams they cheer for.
“All of this makes for an incredibly rich sport for fans in which they crave engagement and opportunities to think like their favourite athletes. PointsBet can add to all of this in a creative and fun way.”
How Will Curling Betting Evolve?
It’s going to be interesting to watch how betting evolves related to curling. A spokesperson for PROLINE+, currently the only licensed Ontario Sportsbook, said it will have outright winner markets for both The Brier and The Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
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“Now with single-event wagering, a market like this can have broad appeal because even a novice bettor can just pick the team they think will win,” says Rhea Jankowski, OLG’s director digital sports marketing and operations, which runs PROLINE+. “OLG will evaluate the popularity and interest in each of the tournaments we offer on PROLINE+ to determine if and how we will add more options to bet on curling. Future enhancements could include live, in-game markets which are proving to be quite popular on our site with other sports.”
Post-announcement, Sulsky said there are few partners like Curling Canada when it comes to national reach. That’s where the rubber hits the road, after the regulation of sports betting spreads from province to province, in what will be a red-hot competitive market North of the 49th.
“We are in this for the long run with Curling Canada,” he said. “We are focused on innovating the real-time engagement experience of the curling fan. We are going to be working closely with the great team at CCA.”