Ontario Slow to the Punch with Private Sports Betting Market

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The 108th Grey Cup is approaching this weekend. This could have been a good time for Ontario to see its private market for single-event betting in action. However, this won’t be the case.

Ontario Misses the Mark with Sports Betting

The Grey Cup will arrive at Hamilton on Tuesday at a Bayfront Park ceremony. This is the first event in a series that culminates in Sunday’s championship game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The Grey Cup will be hosted by The Tiger-Cats at Tim Hortons Field, Hamilton, Ontario. This multi-purpose stadium is affectionately called “The Donut Box.”

There are strong indications that the rollout of the Ontario iGaming marketplace, originally scheduled to take place sometime this month, might not take place until the first quarter of 2022. Panelists at the SBC Summit North America last week reached an agreement that there might be delays in next year’s rollout, but did not make any predictions about when the launch would occur.

The first quarter is the deadline at this stage, but Paul Burns, CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, is optimistic that the rollout will take place in the early-to-mid stages of the three-month period. Burns moderated a session entitled “Tracking Ontario’s Boom” at this summit, which is one of the largest gaming conferences in North America each year.

Strong Market Once It Goes Live

A host of industry giants will be able to enter Ontario when the private market finally opens. This list includes market leaders in the United States such as BetMGM, DraftKings, and FanDuel, as well as PointsBet, a Toronto-based media conglomerate and sports betting company. Ontario is one of the largest jurisdictions in North America, with at least 14.5 million residents.

Burns was joined by Richard Roberts, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment president Richard Roberts, Sporting Group CEO Andy Wright, Nuvei Chief Corporate Developer Officer Neil Erlick, and Chantal Cipriano, PointsBet Canada VP Legal, Compliance & People. PointsBet has made inroads in Canada by hiring several prominent gaming executives, as well as signing a partnership with Curling Canada for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

Regulators will need to consider the acceptance and eventual transfer of operators who previously accepted wagers on sports in the gray market. Proponents of single-event betting on sports cited figures that Canadians could wager up to $14 billion annually outside of the legal market. Deloitte Canada estimates that Canada’s market could grow from $500 million to $28 billion through single-game wagering.

A Cautious Approach to Sports Betting Expansion

Parlay wagering has been legal in Canada for decades. However, it was only allowed to be done through Canada’s provincial lotteries. Single-event wagers, such as Sunday’s Grey Cup bets, are less risky than multi-leg parlays. Cipriano was previously the senior director of legal compliance at fintech company Mazooma. He noted that it is important to have proper safeguards in place in order for gray-market operators to make a smooth transition.

In September, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario opened registration for iGaming operators.

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