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iGaming in Canada: Ontario’s internet gambling market debut

The casino gaming market has high hopes as Ontario – Canada’s largest and most populous province – recently became the first jurisdiction to approve online betting.

In fact, as of April 4th, it is now possible in Ontario to enjoy onlinegames, sports betting and other App game activities. These are registered and legal sites licensed to operate in the provincial regulated market.

Ontario: Canada’s online sports betting base

What is emerging in Ontario is a truly evolving and competitive market for online sports betting.

In fact, several bookmakers – including Coolbet, FanDuel, PointsBet and theScore Bet – tweeted that they officially went live in the early hours of April 4th.

The new sports betting and online casino regulations allow bets to be legally accepted from within Ontario by private operators, rather than just the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp, which is run by the Canadian government.

This is a first-of-its-kind regulatory system in Canada that is likely to be followed by the jurisdictions of other provincial and territorial governments, should it prove to be an effective and productive regulatory framework.

The regulatory framework currently outlined in Ontario provides a balance between competition, job creation, investment and the possibility of increased tax revenues to subsidize Ontario’s finances.

In fact, with respect to job creation, Richard Schwartz, CEO of BetRivers has hired 50 people in Toronto to take care of operations in Ontario.

As Scott Vanderwel – CEO of PointsBet Canada said: “We look forward to doing our part at PointsBet Canada in proving that the model works, while inspiring other provinces to consider a regulated legal framework”.

PointsBet spokesperson Patrick Eichner also said the prospect of opening up the online sports betting market in Ontario is important for a company that currently operates online stably and legally, in several areas of the United States.

In short, the province of Ontario will be the base for Canadian sports betting as it looks to understand how to act and expand its business to the rest of the Canadian regions. Which legal bookmakers are available in Ontario?

The expectation is that several operators will gradually enter the market, with at least 30 different bookmakers having applied to register with iGaming Ontario.

For now, 25 betting operators have registered with iGaming Ontario.

Each company, prior to launching into the new iGaming market, must receive approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). In addition, each bookmaker must enter into an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario (iGO), the governmental and auxiliary agency of AGCO.

From the iGaming Ontario website, it is reported that there are currently 13 operators registered with the AGCO that have entered into an operating agreement with iGO (each one has online sportsbooks).

As a result, these new operators are ready for business in the iGaming market.

Here are the 13 operators that are eligible to start operating legally in the Canadian province of Ontario, opening up to the world of online betting:

  • 888










    Royal Panda

    theScore Bet


The sites listed above will not be available at the same time, but in the coming weeks, according to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the number of participating operators will increase.

As a reminder, gamblers must be at least 19 years of age to register and start betting on the sites in Ontario’s new iGaming market.

In recent days, operators ready to accept online bets, such as PointsBet Canada, have been promoting their activities through advertising and marketing campaigns to reach potential customers before the launch.

For example, Canadian bookmaker theScore Bet has also created online advertisements featuring famous actors from the television programs Curb Your Enthusiasm and Entourage.

The past situation of online gambling in Ontari

Online slot games is not new in Ontario. Previously, there was a kind of “grey market” made up of websites operated outside of Canada, as well as through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. The latter debuted last summer with its bookmaker Proline+ after the federal government legalized single-event sports betting.

Undoubtedly, a regulated online gambling market will be a useful tool to protect customers and ensure choice. The Ontario government has identified the regulation of the iGaming market as a useful tool to counteract the activity of offshore and out-of-province websites, to move bettors to a market that is legal and controlled by the Ontario government.

In effect, Ontario’s plan is to give grey market operators an opportunity to come into compliance, but before that, they are required to first settle all bets previously collected in Ontario’s market.

With the new legislation, Ontarians will be protected by high standards and gaming integrity.

And since it is estimated that Ontarians wager hundreds of millions of dollars each year on sites in the so-called “grey” market, regulation is a top priority.

Also, relevant as we have already pointed out is the possibility of profitable revenues from a growing market.

Peter Bethlenfalvy – spokesperson for the Minister of Finance – stated that the government has not budgeted any revenue from iGaming Ontario activity in the revenue forecast. However, more information will be forthcoming as the province prepares its annual budget this month, with some estimating revenues of up to $800 million for the first year.

Concerns of land-based casino operators

However, not all parts of the casino gaming market are enthusiastic about the new legislation in Ontario. Concerns are emerging from land-based casino operators, as well as unions. The fear is that with the new online market, many casino gambling enthusiasts will move to online casinos and thus have a negative effect on revenues and jobs at physical establishments.

A report by HLT Advisory for Great Canadian Gaming – the province’s largest casino operator – predicted a heavy impact on land-based casino jobs, as well as lost revenue of $2.8 billion in the five years following the opening of the online market.

These figures have alarmed land-based casino owners already hard hit by the pandemic crisis, who have levelled criticism at the political class.

Emily Hogeveen, a spokeswoman for Bethlenfalvy, responded to these concerns, stating that the iGaming dimension is a complement to land-based gaming activity, not a subtraction.

The goal is to provide additional opportunities for land-based gaming operators to differentiate their offerings by cross-promoting online and physical gaming operations.

Ontario’s measures against Pathological Gambling

The province of Ontario is also working to offset and counteract the potential harm caused by gambling.

In fact, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission has established harm reduction models, such as the requirement that each site have a mechanism to monitor players using these platforms.

Sites must have a mechanism in place to take into account whether the player may have “experiencing harm” and are obliged to display “responsible gambling messages”. They will also have to offer 24-hour customer support resources, but also self-exclusion options.

Finally, there are rules that prohibit ads aimed at an underage audience, as well as misleading ads.

The positive and negative sides involved in legalizing gambling

And as the province of Ontario debuts the introduction of a plurality of operators in the world of online betting, questions are being asked about the positive and negative aspects of the legalization of gambling. Independent scientist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health Nigel Turner, who has been dealing with pathological gambling and addiction problems for decades, said that there are indeed positive and negative sides to the legalization of online gambling activities. Professor Nigel Turner has been dealing with pathological gambling problems in the round for several years now. In fact, the scientist has not only been involved in documenting gambling addiction throughout history, but has published several studies where he explores both sociocultural, religious and medical influences on casino gambling, examining the relationships between technological changes, availability of casino games and definition of problem gambling.

Online betting is immediate and easier to access and this increased availability, could lead to more people becoming addicted to gambling. However, since people are gambling online anyway, legalization allows for more security and more controls, also for the protection of the bettor.

So, let’s see what will happen. Nigel Turner will continue to observe the situation through statistics and calls to helpline numbers, now that Ontario’s new Internet gambling market is open for business.

Conclusion on Ontario’s internet gambling market debut

When an operator of casino games encounters a new market, the potential prospects are many. Certainly, the legality and the plurality of operators are an enrichment in the offer proposed to the Canadian public, who since April 4th have more options.

However, since online casino games are an emerging and complex sector, it becomes necessary to continuously monitor and adjust according to how the Ontario public responds.

Categories: GamblingSports