Ontario launched its online gaming and sports betting market earlier this year, and industry experts are now sharing their first impressions of the framework. Most recently, the Toronto-based co-chair of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP’s national sports and gaming law practice Cameron MacDonald says the market’s true potential is yet to come to life.
The local igaming framework officially started operation on April 4, 2022, and it is the first of its kind market in Canada. It is regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and its subsidiary iGaming Ontario, and so far, it has collected more than CA$10 billion of handle, however, some experts believe that it has underperformed in comparison to the U.S.
Plenty More to Come
Still, Mr. MacDonald’s fellow colleague Galen Flaherty, says that the comparison with the U.S. markets is not a fair one. In his words, Canada allowed grey-market brands to operate with impunity, which makes the situation different from the U.S. one, where gambling laws were actively enforced. Therefore, this means a much longer transition period for offshore operators in Canada.
Mr. Flaherty claims that the Ontario numbers are promising and has indicated that there is accelerating growth in the sector. In his words, the third quarter usually generates most betting activity as major leagues return for their regular season. In addition to that, he also predicts that the province could soon have more than 70 websites online and accepting wagers.
In October, AGCO announced that come October 31, 2022, the province will be ending its transition period for grey-market operators. The commission set the date as a deadline for operators to comply with the new standards. Gaming brands which fail to do so, risk getting out of favour with the local regulator and could potentially lose their registration chances.
Meanwhile, Mr. MacDonald has also backed the potential of the province’s market, due to the enormous appetite for online gaming among local players. Previously, the Canadian Gaming Summit reported that there’s plenty of interest in the local sector from other jurisdictions, as there were 15 million fraudulent attempts by Canadians to gain access to the market.
Damian Goodwin, the UK-based chief operating officer for Kings Entertainment Group Inc. which is an international online gaming company that has so far focused on Latin America, is also interested in the market. The CEO said that with the introduction of the regulated market, the company is now interested in commencing operations in it.
Recently, AGCO has also released its second-quarter report on the local iGaming sector. It applies to the period of July 1 through September 30, 2022, and it saw the province generate a total wagering handle of CA$6.04 billion and over CA$267 million in gaming revenue. at the time 24 operators and 42 gaming websites were up and running in the province and had over 628k active users.
Source: Melnitzer, Julius “iGaming in Ontario off to a slow start, but lawyers say growth potential is significant” Law Times, November 14, 2022