Looking for a Slice of Canadian Pie

With the welcome news that Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, is finally moving into regulated online betting, after years of grey market fudge, North America’s top iGaming FEDs are looking for a big slice of the pie.

Penn National Gaming, who bought Toronto-based theScore—arguably Canada’s premier sports betting brand—last year for US$2 billion (C$2.53bn/£1.47bn/€1.77bn), are exultant.

Last week they became the first private market operator in Ontario to secure iGaming accreditation from the province’s Responsible Gambling Council.

“Launching theScore Bet in Ontario will mark an exciting expansion of our online gaming business into a major new market where we already have an established mobile sports media product in theScore app and a wide base of loyal users,” said Penn State’s President and Chief Executive Jay Snowden.

Added John Levy, theScore’s Chief Executive: “[The] news is very exciting.

“[This] will bring widespread benefits to Ontarians and establish Ontario as one of the biggest and most important regulated gaming markets in North America.”

The decision to open up the online betting market in Ontario, population 14.8 million people, concludes four years of tortuous lobbying.

Single event sports betting was only legalised in Canada last year and was offered by provincial lotteries under monopoly.

Previously, punters could only wager on multiple events in “parlay” or “accumulator” format.

Ontario is the first province to break this monopoly.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and its iGaming Ontario (iGO) subsidiary, which will oversee the new online gambling industry in the province, have confirmed that the market officially opens for business on April 14.

North America’s Finest

Heavy hitters DraftKings and FanDuel now look poised to enter the Ontario online market, along with BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, PointsBet and BetRivers.

Other operators, such as Entain, bet365, PokerStars, Super Group and 888, who are already active in Canada’s grey market, will in all likelihood also apply for licences and pay the annual C$100,000 fee (£58,068/US$78,859/€69,717) to cover the cost of regulation.

“Consumers can be assured that companies who successfully enter the new Ontario market will have met rigorous standards of game and operator integrity, fairness, player protections and social responsibility, allowing all players to play with confidence,” said iGO Executive Director Martha Otton.

Tough new measures are designed to prevent underage gambling, promote responsible gaming and counter potential money laundering.

“[Until now] most internet gaming by Ontarians takes place on websites not conducted and managed by the province,” said Otton.

“Our new Internet gaming market will give consumers enhanced entertainment choice, support the growth of a new, legal market and generate revenue that can help fund programs and services that benefit all of us.”

Indeed, it’s very possible that Ontario will soon be vying with New York State for the title of North America’s hottest iGaming market.

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