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Kambi Group To Power Ontario Retail Sportsbooks At Great Canadian Entertainment Properties

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • Kambi Group has announced a deal to provide retail sports betting technology to multiple Ontario casinos owned by Great Canadian Entertainment.
  • Great Canadian operates 25 properties across Canada including a dozen casinos in Ontario.
  • Great Canadian Entertainment is the rebranded name of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, announced in August 2022.

One of the biggest challenges of being a gaming industry journalist: no one ever tells me anything. In all fairness, it’s definitely ‘situational’. Most of the companies in the ecosystem do a good job with their PR and keep us hard working media types ‘in the loop’. The real offenders are the state gaming commissions. Even the (few) good ones such as Colorado and New Jersey don’t do a good job of spreading the news of significant developments. Case in point–it now appears that the North American sports betting epicenter of Ontario will soon have retail sportsbooks.

That’s news to me–at last check, the provincial lottery had a lock on retail betting in Ontario via their PROLINE brand, which predates their PROLINE+ sports betting platform by many years. I figured that at some point, the province would open up for retail sportsbooks since they’re one of–if not the only–jurisdictions in North America that expects their lottery to maintain a competitive product. PROLINE+ has to compete against for profit companies that run online sportsbooks, so it makes sense that PROLINE retail could also get some competition.

That said, I hadn’t seen any movement in that direction. I check the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) website frequently for news and am on their media list. I just checked the site and no mention of any impending retail sports betting. You think that’s something they’d want to mention. Rumblings suggest it’ll be happening soon and I’m starting to see indications from gaming properties in Ontario. Caesars Entertainment now lists a retail sportsbook and 24/7 kiosks as ‘Coming Soon’ to Caesars Windsor.

We’ll cover that in a separate article over the weekend. The bigger splash will initially be made by Great Canadian Entertainment. That’s the new name of the company previously known as Great Canadian Gaming Corporation after a rebrand in August 2022. They own a bunch of gaming businesses throughout Canada, the best known of which is likely Woodbine Racetrack. They also own a dozen retail casinos throughout Ontario–casinos that will soon have sports betting.

The news comes from gaming technology powerhouse Kambi Group in a press release entitled ‘Kambi Group plc signs on-property sportsbook partnership with Great Canadian Entertainment.’ Here’s the ‘money shot’:

Kambi Group plc, the world’s trusted sports betting partner, has signed a multi-year partnership with Great Canadian Entertainment (“Great Canadian”), one of the largest gaming and entertainment companies in Canada, to provide its leading on-property sportsbook to 10 of the operator’s casinos in the province of Ontario.

The agreement will see Great Canadian launch a Kambi-powered sportsbook across its portfolio of properties in the Canadian province, including one of Ontario’s newest land-based casinos, Pickering Casino Resort.

Details are vague, though from the sound of it a launch is imminent. The press release informs us that ‘Under the agreement, Great Canadian will benefit from a high-performance retail sportsbook solution that includes state-of-the-art betting kiosks with fully configurable digital signage functionality.’ That sentence is pretty vague itself–will the properties have a full on retail sportsbook, or just kiosks and signs? Either way, it’s great news. With virtually all of the post-PASPA US jurisdictions completely bungling retail sports betting, Ontario could be the one that gets it right.

We get some more info via the press release quotes, starting with Kristian Nylén, Kambi Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder:

“I am delighted to form this exciting sports betting partnership with Great Canadian, which is rightly regarded as one of Canada’s premier gaming and entertainment companies with an unrivalled retail footprint.”

“This underlines our position as the leading multi-channel sportsbook provider in North America and we are looking forward to working with the talented team at Great Canadian to deliver a market-leading sportsbook experience for its patrons.”

Tony Rodio, Chief Executive Officer at Great Canadian Entertainment, is obviously elated to have Kambi’s technology to power sports betting at 10 of his Ontario properties:

“The addition of sports betting at 10 of our Ontario-based gaming destinations is an important new amenity, elevating the gaming experience for our guests.”

“As the first company to launch this type of product in Ontario, we are thankful for our partnership with Kambi throughout this new venture as well as the continued support from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and Ontario’s provincial government.”

The verbiage of this quote makes it sound as if it’ll happen soon. The first sentence of the second paragraph strongly suggests that they’ll be ‘first to launch’.

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