Ontario sports and horse racing fans may not need to wait for a while before being able to wager online on horse racing. Currently, local digital sportsbooks which debuted in the province’s regulated online gaming market are not allowed to offer the product. However, the province’s Woodbine Entertainment is pushing towards changing it.
The provincial market for private gaming operators kicked off on April 4, 2022, and so far, dozens of online sportsbooks and websites have been allowed entry to it. However, despite being able to offer every kind of sports betting including the newly added single-event wagering, currently, they do not have the rights to offer horse racing from the province.
Aiming for This Calendar Year
In order for Woodbine Entertainment to offer its world-class horse racing products to provincially licensed operators, the organization would need approval from the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency. Michael Copeland from the horse racing leader said that the company expects to receive regulatory approval and have the product up and running on online sportsbooks by the end of the year.
Mr. Copeland added that the operator has already discussed it with the CPMA and iGaming Ontario and that both regulators support the idea. He said that the organization has provided extensive details to the two bodies about what they can expect. This way, he is hopeful that there will be no surprises for them when the final project is delivered for review.
If the initiative is a success, Mr. Copeland also said that the model could even be integrated across other provinces, and allow provincially-ran lottery corporations to offer it to their bettors. And if the provided timeline of launching by the end of the year, the new offering should be available for the next edition of the Kentucky Derby or the Queen’s Plate.
It should be mentioned, that when the province opened its new iGaming market, operators which previously offered horse racing and were approved in the market, had to suspend it. He said that some bettors woke up on April 4, 2022, and were no longer able to place wagers on their favourite horse racing events via their preferred online sportsbooks.
Attracting a New Generation of Fans
Despite its strong year, Mr. Copeland still admits that Woodbine Entertainment needs to attract a new generation of fans into the scene. Modernizing its at-track facilities is also one way of engaging more fans and recently, the company launched Stella Artois Terrace Patio at its Woodbine Racetrack. It is vital for the track to keep revenue flowing into gambling as it supports its thousands of jobs.
More news from the horse racing leader includes the appointment of Hugh Mitchell as Board Chair of its Board of Directors. Prior to his appointment, he has been part of the organization’s Board of Directors since 2018, he was also President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Fair District in London, Ontario. While also serving as Chair of Woodbine Entertainment’s Standardbred Racing Committee.
Source: Zochodne, Geoff “Ontario Sportsbooks Could Have Horse Racing Soon — if Woodbine Wins Regulatory Approval” Covers, September 30, 2022