Canadian Market Focus Part Two, Life After Ontario, With John Levy, CEO, theScore
The first part of our conversation with John Levy, CEO of theScore, was focused on the iGaming regulatory developments in Ontario and the promising future of that market. However, Ontario is potentially just the first of many Canadian jurisdictions expected to follow suit in the near future and regulate online sports betting.
In part 2 of our conversation with John, he shares his thoughts on what he thinks the future of sports betting regulation might look like, the role theScore hopes to play in this and what they can learn from their North American counterparts when rolling out iGaming legislation.
Why is Canada such an exciting opportunity for theScore?
“We’re up and running in the US already with our sportsbook, theScore Bet, and competing against the biggest of the big thanks to the large and highly-engaged user base we have on our media platform. But, in Canada, we are by far the dominant mobile sports brand by some distance with an extremely large and trusted brand presence.
We’ve been open, honest, and authentic about sports betting for a long time, going back to our days as a television network in Canada that was the first to carry live odds on our on-screen ticker. So, Canadian sports fans like that, they respect that, and they feel comfortable with it and trust us.
In Canada, there aren’t very many people who don’t know theScore and we feel fully confident that we’ll be able to provide an amazing product – and a differentiated product in how we’re fusing our media and gaming platforms.”
Do you think the regulatory model used in US states will work in Ontario? What features of the US model or any other jurisdiction do you think would be successful in Ontario to create a competitive and safe iGaming sportsbook market?
“First and foremost, it’s got to be a reasonable fee and tax structure. Because it’s a bit more open in Ontario and Canada than it was in the States in terms of sports betting not being completely closed down through the grey market, you can’t go to market with a product that’s not competitive, so you have to have a reasonable tax rate. And we think we will see that.
We’ve been part of the consultative process up here because we’ve been around a long time and know-how to build and operate a successful sportsbook business. The government is saying it’s got to talk to the people who know this area and can help maximize the rollout and deliver the best possible experience for consumers.
We’ve been very encouraged for a long time as to how we think the regulations will work, and who’s going to administer the regulations and what agencies are going to be involved. A lot of that discussion has already taken place. And that’s part of the reason why we’re confident that this isn’t going to take too long in the future for this to actually become reality.
But the first person to think about isn’t me, it isn’t the Government — it’s the consumer. Make it right for the consumer and make it easy; make it work for them. Everything else flows from that.
Even the old bugaboo that the leagues and the teams used to worry about, “Is this going to hurt the integrity of the league?”. The league commissioners are now fully behind this and we’re all united in doing everything in our power to make sure that this business is run properly and fairly.
When it comes to integrity, you have your company’s name and brand on the line here. It’s kind of ludicrous to think that regulated sports betting isn’t going to do anything but help integrity. Regulated operators can’t afford to have their hands slapped.
There are lots of good examples already out there in terms of markets that have successfully introduced sports betting and iGaming. New Jersey is one, and there’s a whole bunch of others where the Canadian Government and other regulators can look at it. It’s not always great to be a little late to the game, but in this particular case, I think it really helps the regulator because you can follow the best practices already out there.”
Editor’s Note: After speaking with John, it’s clear he believes that the fundamental aspect of any future regulation in Canada should be centred on the customer. Making their experience both fun and safe should be the primary objective. Tax levels, of course, will also play a pivotal role in market competitiveness and will need to allow operators the opportunity to grow sustainably, but John is confident that they will.
The fact that he and his industry counterparts have been part of the regulatory consultative process is a very positive sign and suggests a very promising future for this region.