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PointsBet Canada Partners With CFL Ottawa REDBLACKS In Advance Of Ontario Launch

James Murphy
by in CFL on
  • PointsBet Canada has announced a partnership with CFL side Ottawa REDBLACKS and their home stadium, TD Place.
  • PointsBet has received licensing from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
  • PointsBet will be able to launch their betting platform in Ontario when sports betting goes live on April 4, 2022.

PointsBet was one of the earliest international sportsbooks to target Canada, long before single game wagering was even a done deal. With the launch of Ontario’s highly competitive iGaming market on April 4, 2022, they’ve stepped up their efforts. This is right out of the playbook they ran in Colorado prior to their launch there, though for obvious reasons they’ve been emphasizing their Canadian subsidiary by name: PointsBet Canada.

In addition, they’ve used the same template of entering into partnership deals with a variety of Canadian focused sports properties, both within Ontario and elsewhere. These include Canada ski team oversight body Alpine Canada, their curling counterpart Curling Canada, and Canadian TV series stars the Trailer Park Boys. With the launch of their Ontario sports betting platform now immanent, they’ve announced a highly mainstream sports team partnership.

PointsBet Canada announced today that they’ve entered into a promotional partnership with the Canadian Football League (CFL) Ottawa REDBLACKS (yep, that’s how they stylize their team nickname). The deal also includes the team’s home stadium, TD Place. The partnership should get PointsBet plenty of brand recognition in Ottawa as it includes a jersey patch and naming rights of what will be known as the TD Place PointsBet Sideline Club. Here’s the info from the press release making the announcement:

The Ottawa REDBLACKS, TD Place and PointsBet Canada have entered an exciting new partnership that will see one of the country’s most dynamic new sportsbooks become the official sportsbook of Canadian football in Ottawa and their home facility beginning this season.

The innovative partnership will see the PointsBet Canada logo proudly featured on all REDBLACKS jerseys this season, along with prominent branding throughout TD Place. PointsBet Canada also becomes the new presenting sponsor of the PointsBet Sideline Club at TD Place, the best destination for REDBLACKS fans seeking an up-close and personal view of the game from field level.

You got to give credit to the REDBLACKS–they’re showing some enthusiasm about the partnership. Sometimes when this type of deal is announced the ‘non sportsbook partner’ almost acts embarrassed to be involved. That’s not the case here as the REDBLACKS offered front and center coverage on the team’s official website (ottawaredblacks.com)

The Ottawa REDBLACKS website giving PointsBet Canada much love.

Incidentally, I did a little research trying to figure out where the stylized all caps REDBLACKS originated. It’s been that way ever since the team’s nickname was announced. If you know your CFL history, you’re no doubt aware that Ottawa had a football team for over a century with the nickname ‘RoughRiders’ (seriously–they were founded in 1876 and used the name starting in 1898). The franchise folded in 1996 ending the Rough Riders run in Ottawa. After an unsuccessful return as the ‘Renegades’ in 2002 (they folded after four seasons), the CFL returned to the capital city in 2008 as they awarded the city to a well established and respected ownership group.

The original plan was to revive the Rough Riders name but that met with objection from the CFL’s *other* Rough Riders…er….’Roughriders’. That would be the Saskatchewan Roughriders who have used the name since 1924. The fact that there were two teams called ‘Rough Riders’ (or ‘Roughriders’) wasn’t a problem in 1924 due to the spelling differentiation and the fact that they played in different leagues. When the current REDBLACKS franchise was awarded to Ottawa, the ownership acquired all of the intellectual property rights to the ‘Rough Riders’ name from previous owner Horn Chen. The problem was that the league’s franchise agreement for the new franchise including ‘veto power’ for the Saskatchewan franchise over the Ottawa team’s use of the ‘Rough Riders’ name.

Despite all of this drama, never an explanation of the ALL CAPS in REDBLACKS. Were I running PointsBet Canada, I’d stylize the name POINTSBET CANADA in all of the Ottawa facing promotional copy. It doesn’t look as if the guy that actually does run PointsBet Canada–CEO Scott Vanderwel–plans to do that:

“It is hard to imagine anything more Canadian than the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Ottawa. We are excited to be working with one of the premier franchises in the CFL and can’t wait to bring a new, unrivaled form of entertainment to REDBLACKS fans.”

Here’s what the REDBLACKS ownership said about the partnership, articulated by OSEG (Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group) President and CEO Mark Goudie:

“We proudly wave the Canadian and CFL flag in the Nation’s Capital and it was important to us that that this partnership be with a Canadian operator who not only knows the City of Ottawa, but also loves the CFL and appreciates our REDBLACKS fans and the passion they have for our team and our league,” said OSEG President and CEO Mark Goudie. “We proudly welcome PointsBet Canada to RNation and look forward to an exciting, innovative relationship and an exceptional game experience in the PointsBet Sideline Club.”

How about some more quotes? Here’s Nic Sulsky, Chief Commercial Officer for PointsBet Canada chiming in on the deal and showing some CFL street cred in the process:

“PointsBet Canada is committed to building an identity that acknowledges the little intricacies that make us all proud to be Canadian. Nothing says Canadian like three downs, a 55-yard line and the rouge. We are excited to add a little bit more red and black to RNation for years to come!”

And back to the team, where Adrian Sciarra, Senior Vice President, Sports Business Operation, OSEG, added these comments:

“We’re always looking for ways to add to the REDBLACKS experience at TD Place. Partnering with a reputable and innovative company like PointsBet Canada will do just that.”

It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the other CFL teams in Ontario it relates to sportsbook sponsorship deals. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have local ownership similar to the REDBLACKS (Hamilton Sports Group) and would likely put them in the same price range for a potential sponsor. This would likely include Tim Hortons Field. An interesting twist that could come into play for any Ti-Cats gaming sponsor–Woodbine Entertainment (as in Woodbine Racetrack) CEO Jim Lawson is part of the team’s ownership group. Woodbine doesn’t currently have any sports betting assets but they do own horse tracks, land based casinos, off track betting outlets and the HPIbet.com advanced deposit wagering platform. Lawson has been very vocal about Ontario’s provincial government involving horse tracks in general and his company in particular in any future retail sportsbook endeavor:

“We’ve got the deepest physical sportsbook localities in the entire province when you think of Woodbine, Mohawk, Greenwood, WEGZ.”

“We have 48 Champions lounges. So… we have 48 sports betting locations. There is an opportunity for the government and for the racetrack industry… The racetrack industry is heavily subsidized, the racetracks lose money, including ours. This is an opportunity to fix that.”

“In the case of Woodbine, I’ve made this point over and over, we have a nonprofit mandate, we don’t have any shareholders, we’re Canadian, we’re capable, our technology is good, the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) is familiar with our management, there’s no reason whatsoever to think that sportsbooks should be going to casinos or just to casinos. We acknowledge there could be competition. We’re not looking for exclusives on sportsbooks, but we’re, basically, turnkey on sportsbooks.”

This quote is from an interesting article at Canadian Thoroughbred about sports betting and its implications for the horse racing industry. Lawson is quoted extensively–he comes off as a very sharp guy who understands that a competitive retail sportsbook model is best for not only his business but Ontario in general. The practice of limiting competition in sports betting by using it a reward for political cronies and financial benefactors is a serious threat to the economic success of the industry:

SPORTS BETTING A HIGH STAKES PROPOSITION FOR HORSE RACING (CANADIAN THOROUGHBRED)

I’m going to revisit the future of retail betting in Ontario and the importance of a competitive marketplace down the road.

The Toronto Argonauts are owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, the conglomerate that also owns the NHL Maple Leafs, the NBA Raptors, the MLS Toronto FC among other sports properties in the Queen City (or the 6ix, for you younger fans). That puts them in a position to command a hefty payday for a sponsorship deal that would cover multiple teams in multiple sports. It won’t be cheap to join this sponsor roster!

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