Assessing Ontario’s Online Gambling Market
Canadians love to bet, but until recently options have been more limited compared to European and American opportunities. Axing the parlay bet requirement removed one hurdle, and now Ontario has opened a legal online gambling market.
Ontario Leads the Way
Traditionally, online betting in Canada was a murky grey area. There were a handful of state-backed places to do it but private sites were few and far between which meant Canadians into betting did so at offshore sportsbooks and casinos. But from April 2022 a legal online sports betting market was launched in Ontario. This is unsurprising given the province leads in many areas, with the nation’s biggest population, the biggest city in Canada, the largest industrialized area (Golden Horseshoe region), and even growing two-thirds of the country’s corn. In short, Ontario is in many ways the leading Canadian province.
The new betting market in Ontario came hot on the heels of single-event sports betting becoming legalized, meaning that parlay bets were no longer mandatory (these multi-leg bets did have high payouts but if a single part of them failed the whole bet was red, thus making them unattractive to many potential bettors).
Upon launch, the province already had many sportsbooks ready to go, and forecasts of annual revenue were set at $800m. While Ontario is the first province in Canada to enable this, it does come after literally dozens of American states have adopted the same approach. And given the major league overlap of sporting interest, Canadian provincial authorities are concerned that wagers will be made across the border, and that revenue will go the same way.
The question is whether Ontario has already missed the boat, with Canadians betting at overseas sportsbooks seeing little need to shift their habits and place bets domestically.
How to Find the Best Online Casinos in Canada?
As the Canadian online casino market flourishes this presents a wide range of potential sites to have fun betting on classic table games like blackjack and roulette, as well as the latest slot titles. However, this also means that option paralysis may settle in, luckily there are ways to avoid it. The most convenient way to find top online casinos is to do a bit of research, read some reviews, or simply check the best casino guide available online when it comes to CA casinos. This will save you time and cut out second-rate sites while focusing your attention on a selection of the best Canadian casinos, leaving you with two simple tasks – have fun and win real money.
Will Other Provinces Follow Ontario’s Lead?
Betting regulation in Canada is determined at the provincial level which means there’s already a lot of variation with some areas being keener on racetracks, sportsbooks, brick-and-mortar casinos, and lotteries than others. Historically, Canada has had a weird grey approach to online betting (which essentially meant Canadians bet at overseas websites or on the black market) but this has ended, at least in Ontario, with the formation of iGaming Ontario (iGO). But will other provinces do likewise?
As might be expected, there is opposition. This comes from both the obvious sources of those concerned about gambling (either completely on ethical grounds or in terms of addiction risks) but also, perhaps unexpectedly, from some who have real-world betting establishments. Fears of a negative impact on the horse racing industry, for example, have been raised by Jim Lawson, the chief executive officer at Woodbine Entertainment.
However, other provinces are expected to follow in Ontario’s footsteps. Not only because this would make revenues onshore rather than offshore, but because it would help remove the black market, and with it the associated untaxed profits and criminality. Ultimately, people are going to bet, and having them do so legally is preferable to the alternative. Although it may be wise to avoid betting on Friday the 13th given the day’s reputation for bad luck.
Early Days but Revenues Underwhelm in Ontario
The decision to endorse private sports betting within the province was spurred on by the loosening of regulations south of the border, with many US states seeing great revenues from sports (and casino) betting. The vast overlap of sporting interest also meant a fear that Canadian wagers would be diverted into the US, benefiting the states rather than swelling the coffers of Canada. So, how have things gone with Ontario’s foray into a gambling market for sports betting?
In the first three months of operation, Ontario generated revenues of some $162m from sports betting (around US$125m). This comes in at around a quarter of the revenues generated by states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania. According to Dave Briggs, managing editor of PlayCanada.com, this is around half of what he expected at this stage.
This shortfall compared to expectations comes despite Ontario having a bigger population (15 million) than New Jersey and Pennsylvania (nine million and 13 million respectively). However, it is worth noting that the first period of a new market sees it moving from a standing start, and Ontario is also the first province in Canada to go down this road which may also have helped contribute to a slower start.
Room for Growth
In the quarter ending 30 June 2022, iGaming Ontario reported wagers exceeded $4bn, and active player accounts numbered 492,000. This suggests there’s substantial room to grow. A slightly stilted start to the first such market in Canada is perhaps understandable, but if things do not accelerate in the next quarter or two then revenues may be significantly underwhelming compared to projections.
Given Ontario’s population the initial revenues were a little on the low side compared to forecasts. However, there is substantial space for growth and other provinces remain likely to embark upon a similar path.