The growing trend of nations worldwide embracing the iGaming industry and associated relaxations of online gambling regulations is reaching North American shores. As such, many states in the US getting on board with the fast-growing market. And now it looks like Canada is positioning itself as a leading player in this lucrative industry.
The C-218 bill, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, was passed less than one year ago allows Canadians to place bets on single-game sporting events. Thus, prompting further exploration into expanding regulations when it comes to online gambling. Canada is now one of the top ten largest gambling markets in the world. Therefore, it makes sense that they are looking to iGaming as the next step to reinforce that status.
The developments surrounding gambling laws in Canada - and in particular the passing of the C-218 bill - have led many in the industry to firmly believe that they will witness an ever-increasing boom in online gambling. This industry is likely to grow exponentially.
Up until now the huge popularity of online betting in Canada has predominantly benefited overseas providers. The Canadian Gaming Association estimates that Canadians spend as much as $14 billion a year on offshore betting websites. A rise of 75% in online casino play last year only adds fuel to this fire. Thus, lawmakers are hoping for huge opportunities for greater involvement on their own shores.
With a whole range of sports taking place in the country, industry insiders believe the new bill will allow bettors to place wagers on individual games involving teams they support easier. This popularity of online betting amongst a certain demographic can be tapped into by the iGaming market. Particularly in Ontario.
Following on from the changes to these laws, the province of Ontario says it will open its legal iGaming market on April 4. This will be under the banner of iGaming Ontario (iGO) which is a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
This regulatory framework will develop online gaming in the province. They will incorporate online casinos in Ontario and other private operators. It is a brave move away from the limited platforms only available exclusively through government-owned lotteries.
The AGCO has had this in the pipeline for three years. It was in April 2019 when the government first announced bringing an end to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation as the sole provider of iGaming in the province. Some 18 months later this plan was set in motion and the legislation passed in 2021.
The necessary regulatory standards are set in stone, along with advertising standards and integrity rules. So, from April 4 2022 private gaming operators will be able to offer their games to players providing they meet two criteria:
These robust regulations will protect online gaming players. Especially those who place bets on single-event sports. However, it also protects online casino play and provides lucrative revenue for private operators and the Ontario government itself. Thus, this could potentially be a funding method similar to existing lottery programs.
It’s a throw of the dice that provides a winning outcome for all the major players. From the government to the providers, to the players themselves.
iGO’s executive director Martha Otton reinforces the province’s aim to protect online gamblers. Additionally, she is open about how this generates some much-needed revenue for investment back into government programs.
She said: "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."
Further, Martha says "Today, most internet gaming by Ontarians takes place on websites not conducted and managed by the province. Our new internet gaming market will give consumers enhanced entertainment choices. It also supports the growth of a new, legal market and generate revenue that can help fund programs and services that benefit all of us."
Private operators that register with the AGCO and the iGO can operate gaming websites in the province. Therefore, you can expect dozens of online gaming and sports betting operators will be looking forward to this. Not to mention the predicted revenues of $1 billion in its first year.
Penn National Gaming and theScore Bet are working together to become the first such operator to complete the necessary accreditations. Their respective chief executives Jay Snowden and John Levy are delighted. Snowden said: "Launching theScore Bet in Ontario will mark an exciting expansion of our online gaming business. It's a major new market where we already have an established mobile sports media product in theScore app and a wide base of loyal users."
Following the announcement, Snowden said, "Today’s news is very exciting. I would like to recognize and congratulate the government of Ontario and the AGCO and iGaming Ontario for their dedication to creating a modern open and regulated sports betting and iGaming market."
Levy says: "The AGCO and iGaming Ontario have been thoughtful and collaborative in their approach to creating and managing this new industry. The result is a soon-to-be-launched framework that will bring widespread benefits to Ontarians. It will establish Ontario as one of the biggest and most important regulated gaming markets in North America."
Ontario is the second-largest market in North America thanks to its population of some 15 million. This is one major reason why affiliate Bonusfinder is looking forward to the launch. PointsBet Canada’s Scott Vanderwel added: "I want to commend iGaming Ontario for their work in creating an openly competitive and regulated environment."
He also said, "We will continue to work with our government partners to protect consumers. Creating a level playing field in a responsible and licensed gaming market. We will introduce PointsBet Canada’s unmatched speed and ease of use. As well as the deepest slate of pre-game and in-game betting options in the world."
Finally, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association Paul Burns has this to say. "This is another major milestone and achievement for Ontario’s gaming industry after sports betting. The move to establish a regulated iGaming market in this province will ensure that the people of Ontario have access to safe and legal gambling options online. While encouraging investment and job creation in Ontario."
He also believes, "We finally have the opportunity to safeguard the economic benefits that will start to flow to licensed gaming operators and the provincial government."
Prospective private operators are working hard in the background on their methods to appeal to Ontario’s heavily-growing online betting community. They can now officially start demonstrating their best strategies to compete in an already increasingly-populated market.
It would have been great for the new market to launch ahead of the NFL playoffs and the Super Bowl at the start of the year. However, there will still be plenty of top-class sporting competitions to look forward to. For example, Masters golf, MLB, basketball, and hockey playoff challenges will all happen in April.
2022 promises to be a real iconic year for gambling in Ontario. You don’t want to miss out!