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BetRivers Gives A Status Report After Their First Week Of Operations In Ontario

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Rush Street Interactive has released a ‘status report’ after the first week of operation in Ontario for their BetRivers brand.
  • Ontario launched their regulated and competitive iGaming market on April 4.
  • Ontario’s sports betting market should quickly become one of the most competitive–and most lucrative–ecosystems found anywhere in the world.

Just over a week since Ontario launched their ‘best of breed’ competitive sports betting and iGaming market. Although there won’t be any concrete revenue numbers for awhile now we’re starting to get at least some feedback on how things are going. Earlier today, Rush Street Interactive (RSI) dropped a press release talking about their first week of operations in the province. Likewise, there wasn’t much in the way of solid data but it did offer a few interesting facts about the betting tendencies of Ontarians at BetRivers during the opening week.

In a section titled ‘First Week By The Numbers’, BetRivers offered these factual tidbits:

  • The most popular sports event of the weekend was the Masters golf tournament, receiving 17% of all the weekend sports handle.
  • The next largest event was the Nuggets – Lakers Sunday night showdown coming in at around 5% of the total handle.
  • The NBA has been the most popular sport thus far, receiving 36% of all handle. The Masters was second at 17%, followed by the MLB at 14%.
  • The Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Blue Jays have been the most popular teams to bet on in the NBA and MLB, respectively, showing hometown love for local teams.
  • Slots, followed by blackjack and table games were the most popular game types in the online casino during the first week.

Some observations–very surprised to see that the NBA has received such a large share of betting action in the final week of their regular season while the NHL season hitting the stretch run. This is particularly true in Toronto, where the Maple Leafs are having a strong season and Auston Matthews is re-writing team scoring records. The amount of betting on baseball relative to the other sports is also unexpected. Also surprised to see Sunday’s Lakers v. Nuggets game taking so much action.

Given the complete absence of any mention of the NHL or the hometown Maple Leafs I’m wondering if this is a selective reading of the data. Not sure what motivation they would have to omit any mention of pro hockey in a press release that was largely targeted to the Canadian media but knowing what I know about the country’s sports fandom (and betting interests) it sure doesn’t look right.

The Maple Leafs have played five games since the April 4 launch of Ontario’s mobile betting market. Two were *extremely* high profile road games against the Leafs’ top rivals in the Eastern Conference. They played on Monday, April 4 at Tampa Bay and Tuesday, April 5 at Florida. The Tampa Bay game was especially crucial–heading into that game, the Leafs were just two points ahead of their divisional rivals. Florida, meanwhile, has the best record in the Eastern Conference. Last Saturday, Toronto hosted the rival Montreal Canadians and although the Habs are having an awful season this matchup is always of interest to the fanbase.

Long story short, it’s borderline unfathomable that the Sunday game between the Lakers and Nuggets would have had more betting interest in Ontario than the two Maple Leafs games against their Florida rivals. It’s equally implausible that the NHL didn’t even ‘make the board’ in the tally of betting handle. Factoring in the fact that most of the playoff seeds in the NBA were already set in the final week of the regular season, it’s difficult to imagine *that* much betting interest. No clue what the deal is, but these numbers just don’t look right.

 Richard Schwartz, CEO of RSI, which operates BetRivers.ca (the company’s Canadian URL), had these comments on the early days of the Ontario betting market:

“April 4 was an important day for our BetRivers community and the iGaming industry in Ontario and we are thrilled to see such a strong start in the province. The response we have seen in Ontario has reinforced that there is a huge appetite for regulated online casino and sports betting within the market. With our easy-to-use BetRivers.ca platform, our new Ontario customers enjoyed the convenience of wagering on an exciting array of online casino games and sporting events, safely from their mobile devices and computers.”

“Last week’s launch is just the beginning for the BetRivers brand in Ontario,” Schwartz added. “We look forward to continuing to build our presence in the market as we bring our industry leading online gaming and sports betting experience to the millions of gaming enthusiasts in Ontario.”

If a US facing sportsbook suggested that in a given week, there was less interest in NFL football than basketball, baseball and golf it wouldn’t pass the proverbial ‘smell test’. Hockey is the biggest sport in Canada and the Toronto Maple Leafs are the country’s highest profile NFL team. Not sure why BetRivers would want to cut the NHL and the Leafs out of the narrative, but it’s exceedingly difficult to buy the veracity of these numbers.

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