Puck’s Off: Canucks, Kambi and Counting All Set for Ontario iGaming Launch

At two weeks and counting, the world’s top online gambling companies are jostling hard for prime position at the launch of Canada’s great Ontario iGaming market.

“Ontario [will be] one of the biggest and most important regulated gaming markets in North America,” asserts John Levy, Chief Executive of Penn National Gaming’s theScore.

And all the heavy hitters are in agreement.

The latest iGaming titan to secure regulatory approval to operate in the province come April 4 is Swedish premium B2B sports betting platform provider and services supplier Kambi.

Earlier this year—in a move designed to negate the impact of being dumped by Penn National–they signed a long-term sports betting partnership with NorthStar Gaming Inc., a Canadian media native that can trace its roots back some 128-years.

Kambi’s ice-cold hockey product is likely to be a smash hit in Canada, where the sport is a national obsession.

“I am delighted that Kambi has become one of the first sportsbook providers to obtain registration from the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario),” said CEO Kristian Nylén, who co-founded the firm in 2010.

“This landmark achievement is a testament to Kambi’s expertise and exemplary track record in compliance, and we are excited to be in a position to deliver our market-leading sportsbook technology to our partners’ customers in Ontario from day one.”

Kambi, nevertheless, faces the tough challenge of taking on theScorebet, who, as one industry insider commented, “pretty much own” Canadian sports betting.

Last week the AGCO warned that all businesses must temporarily cease operations in the province “from the moment their registration is rubber-stamped, until launch day”.

These companies must also “terminate any association they may have with [any other] company that operates in the unregulated market in Ontario” after receiving their registration.

Licenced to Thrill

To date, Bet365, DraftKings, FanDuel, LeoVegas, PointsBet, Rush Street Interactive, Rivalry, and 888.com, among others, have received licences to operate in Canada’s most populous province.

They will pay an annual C$100,000 fee (approximately £58,000/US$79,000/€70,000) to cover the cost of regulation. Their licences will run for an initial two years.

IGaming in Ontario, population 14.6 million, is finally being regulated after years of grey market fudge.

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.

“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 protection and social responsibility, allowing all players to play with confidence,” said Martha Otton, Executive Director of iGaming Ontario, who will manage Internet betting in the province under the AGCO umbrella.

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.”