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Ontario Lottery’s Proline Sportsbook Announces Partnership With The NBA

James Murphy
by in NBA on
  • Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) have announced a promotional partnership deal.
  • Under the multi-year deal, the OLG’s Proline Sportsbook is now an ‘official partner’ of the NBA.
  • The OLG operates the Proline+ online sportsbook along with retail betting available at nearly 10,000 lottery outlets in Ontario.

That didn’t take long….a couple of days ago, I did an article about the recently announced partnership between the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Major League Baseball (MLB). The particulars of the deal are pretty typical of the ‘official betting partner’ arrangement but unlike the US jurisdictions that have gifted sports betting to the state’s lottery our Ontarian neighbors did it right. More specifically, they did it right in terms of online betting. For the time being, the OLG has a monopoly on retail betting in Ontario but my hunch is that will change at some point in the future.

So what’s different about a lottery based sportsbook in Ontario and the type of trainwreck we’ve seen in US jurisdictions like Oregon or the District of Columbia? In Ontario, the OLG’s mobile betting platform–Proline+–is just another sportsbook. That means that they’ve got to compete for business against the likes of BetMGM, FanDuel, Bet365, DraftKings, PointsBet, etc. The result is what you think it would be–since they have to compete they’re not able to offer the type of half assed product seen from US lotteries. Proline+ is actually decent both in terms of the sports they cover and the betting options they offer.

Proline+ definitely has a nice deal being able to cross promote at nearly 10,000 lottery retailers in Ontario. That notwithstanding, they have to get brand awareness and market share just like everyone else using the same type of tactics as any other sportsbook:

The result has not only been for the OLG to offer a decent sports betting platform (PROLINE+), but to also employ many of the same marketing and promotional tactics as other sportsbooks. One of the most common is the ‘official betting partnership’ with a sports league, team or other oversight body. Previously, the OLG has announced such deals with the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL). Both of these partnerships were the respective league’s first promotional deal in the Ontario market. Not sure if that’s a part of the OLG’s strategy or just a function of the ‘first mover advantage’ they were afforded when single game sports betting became legal in Canada.

At the end of the article, I noted that the only one of the major North American pro sports leagues that didn’t have a deal with the OLG was the NBA:

Interesting that the only remaining league that the OLG has yet to sign up is the National Basketball Association (NBA) despite the fact that the league has a team in the province (the Toronto Raptors). My guess is that this oversight will be rectified by the time next season rolls around.

I was right with my prediction that the OLG and NBA would announce a partnership deal before next season. In fact, it took them roughly 48 hours. Here’s the info from a press release issued by the OLG earlier today:

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) are celebrating the 2022 NBA Draft presented by State Farm by announcing that OLG’s PROLINE sportsbook is now an official partner of the NBA in Ontario. For the first time, PROLINE bettors can wager on the NBA Draft, which will air on Sportsnet and TSN on Thursday, June 23 at 8:00pm ET.

Under the new multiyear deal, OLG and the NBA will also create unique experiences on PROLINE+, OLG’s online sportsbook, and through its retail PROLINE offering, available at nearly 10,000 outlets in Ontario.

The NBA has worked with the OLG for years–on both lottery products and sports betting:

This latest partnership builds on the successful relationship between the two organizations, which has brought exclusive, co-branded experiences to fans for years, including NBA Winners’ Corner presented by OLG and NBA Films for Fans created with OLG.

As part of the deal, OLG will continue to utilize NBA betting data, integrate official league marks and logos into select products and collaborate with the NBA on a variety of engaging basketball content for OLG’s customers across its sports betting, lottery and iGaming product lines.

Dave Pridmore, OLG’s Chief Digital and Strategy Officer, is already well versed in the sports betting press release quote about this type of partnership:

“Continuing our partnership with an incredible organization like the NBA will help OLG create new excitement and opportunities for basketball fans on PROLINE+ and PROLINE at retail. We’re thrilled to offer wagering on the NBA Draft for the first time while bringing our valued sports bettors even closer to the game through exclusive content and gameplay.”

Another great thing about Ontario–they can add an event like the NBA Draft to their betting menu and it doesn’t require any type of convoluted process or even approval. Want to know what the OLG–or any other sportsbook–needs to do to take action on the NBA Draft? They need to set a line on it and open it up for wagering. That’s it. The limitations on the bookmaking product are for the most part downright reasonable. You can’t bet on lottery results, animal fighting, Canadian minor league sports or financial markets. You won’t see the bureaucrats, politicians and regulators give sportsbooks this kind of autonomy in the purportedly free United States:

  1. The outcome of the event being bet on can be documented and verified;
  2. The outcome of the event being bet on can be generated by a reliable and independent process;
  3. The outcome of the event being bet on is not affected by any bet placed;
  4. The majority of participants in the event or league are 18 years of age or older; event shall be broadly defined as assessing total participants in the event/league, rather than in a particular heat, game, match or final contest in the overall sporting event;
  5. For sporting events being bet on, the event must be effectively supervised by a sport governing body which must, at minimum, prescribe final rules and enforces codes of conduct that include prohibitions on betting by insiders (not applicable to novelty bets);
  6. There are integrity safeguards in place which are sufficient to mitigate the risk of match-fixing, cheat-at-play, and other illicit activity that might influence the outcome of bet upon events;
  7. The bet is not on a past event for which the outcome is publicly known;
  8. The bet is not reasonably objectionable;
  9. The event being bet on does not involve animal fighting or cruelty;
  10. Bets on assets and financial markets (e.g., stocks, bonds, currencies, real property) are prohibited;
  11. Bets which expose players to losses greater than the amount wagered are prohibited;
  12. Bets which mimic the structure of financial instruments, products, or markets are prohibited;
  13. Bets on synthetic lottery products and bets on lottery outcomes are prohibited;
  14. The event being bet on is conducted in conformity with all applicable laws;
  15. Bets on minor league sports in Canada, including the Canadian Hockey League (CHL), are prohibited.

Here’s the Ontario definition for sports and event betting:

Any bet on occurrences related to sports, competitions, matches, and other types of activities which meet the criteria articulated in Standard 4.34, and which excludes games or events where the outcome is determined or controlled by a random number generator, peer-to-peer play, or an operator. Sport and event betting includes: • Bets on fantasy sports, esports, and novelty events, but does not include bets on virtual sports.

• Sport and Event Bets include, but are not limited to, single-game bets, teaser bets, parlays, over-under, moneyline, pools, exchange betting, in-game betting, proposition bets, and straight bets.

and for Novelty Events:

Any bet placed on a non-sporting event where real-world factual occurrences are the contingency on which an outcome is determined and in accordance with Standard 4.34.

Standard 4.34 is that long list numbered 1 through 15 posted above. That means that as long as the novelty bet in question complies with the stipulations outlined on the list, a sportsbook can take action on it. How awesome is that?

Kuljeet Sindhar, NBA’s Associate Vice President, International Gaming & Data Ventures, is stoked to be expanding the league’s partnership with the OLG:

“This expanded relationship marks the latest iteration of our deeply valued long-term relationship with OLG. We are delighted to continue to work together with OLG to innovate around the fan experience in a new era for Ontario sports betting.”

Ontario’s regulatory framework is so far ahead of every other jurisdiction in North America it’s hard to come up with a good metaphor to explain it. We’re talking Secretariat at the 1973 Belmont ‘nowhere near the rest of the field’. Even the best US jurisdictions like Colorado and Iowa aren’t in the same area code (literally or figuratively) both in terms of what happens ‘behind the scenes’ (licensing, fees, taxes, etc.) and the betting options that sportsbooks can offer.

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