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Ontario iGaming Model Can Expand in the Great White North

By Manny Wood.
Fact checked by Wilbur Thompson.

It was reported that operators of online sports betting sites in Ontario are hopeful that other Canadian provinces will follow suit in launching a competitive market for internet gambling. The launch of Ontario’s iGaming market last year saw a dozen legal operators and over 70 gaming sites offering sports betting, casino gaming, and poker. However, other provinces have yet to introduce similar systems and have opted to maintain a legal monopoly for their government-owned lottery and gaming corporations.

At a Canadian Gaming Association event on the first anniversary of Ontario’s iGaming market launch, there was optimism that other provinces will soon open up. Benjie Levy, the head of PENN Interactive, said he sees no reason why one or more Canadian jurisdictions wouldn’t follow Ontario’s lead based on the “great work” that Ontario has done. Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada, noted that there is a “broader Canadian imperative” to what operators are doing, as many Canadians still bet with offshore sites that might not be regulated by provincial authorities, resulting in local governments receiving no financial proceeds and players not being protected by regulatory standards.

Ontario’s iGaming model has worked well in terms of customer acquisition and revenue, generating approximately $1.4 billion in total gaming revenue from over 1.6 million active player accounts in the first year of the regulatory framework. Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey expressed interest in connecting with colleagues across the country to explain what a wonderful opportunity this is for their province.

While there is support for a more relaxed approach by operators, some tidying up needs to be done in Ontario. Operators need to understand their roles and focus on the consumer and the long-term potential of the market, according to Dale Hooper, general manager at FanDuel Canada. Technical issues also need sortings, such as the inability to offer horse racing by online sportsbooks in the province and the requirement that all poker players be in Ontario. Vanderwel stated that it’s incumbent on the industry to make it more inclusive and regulate it in a framework that makes sense to all players.