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PointsBet Gains Ontario Sports Betting Licensing Approval

James Murphy
by in Gaming Industry on
  • 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 and theScore Bet have both received licensing with more expected before launch date.

Yesterday, we reported on PointsBet Canada being named the ‘official sportsbook’ of Alpine Canada Alpin, the country’s governing body for competitive skiing. PointsBet’s Canadian subsidiary has gone to great lengths to emphasize their ties to the country and today that appears to have paid off. PointsBet has received licencing from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to offer sports betting in the province. PointsBet will be able to launch their betting platform in Ontario when sports betting goes live on April 4, 2022. So far we know that PointsBet and theScore Bet have both received licensing with more expected before launch date.

Ontario is shaping up to be one of the most active sports betting jurisdictions in North America. Ontario will open the market for sports betting to private operators on April 4, 2022 and while the tax rate is a bit too high (20%) everything else in the regulatory framework looks good. In fact, Ontario could very quickly become the most competitive jurisdiction in North America thanks to a reasonable licensing set up and none of the numerical limits that most US states use to protect their political cronies and financial benefactors.

The demographics in Ontario couldn’t be better. It is Canada’s most populous province with an estimated 2021 population of 14,915,270. This represents a growth rate of 10.91% since 2016 and 38.81% of Canada’s population lives in Ontario. Comparing the population of Ontario to the US states emphasizes the potential of Ontario’s sports betting industry. Ontario’s population would make it the 5th most populous state in the US behind only California, Texas, Florida and New York.

PointsBet sent out a press release today with reactions on their Ontario licensing. Scott Vanderwel, Chief Executive Officer, PointsBet Canada is obviously thrilled to reach this milestone and emphasized the company’s Canadian identity:

“Since day one, we have remained genuine to our promise of building a Canadian sportsbook, with Canadian employees, for the Canadian market. Today’s approval of PointsBet Canada as a licensed sportsbook in Ontario effective April 4, 2022, is a momentous step in unveiling our authentically Canadian gaming experience to the province. In just 60 days, PointsBet Canada’s unmatched speed and ease of use, unrivalled in-game betting capabilities, and unique local partnerships will bring Ontario sports fans a new, responsible, and dynamic form of sports betting and entertainment.”

Chantal Cipriano, Vice-President, Legal, Compliance & People, PointsBet Canada echoed these sentiments:

“We are proud to be one of the first iGaming operators regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. It demonstrates the confidence that regulators have in our ability to deliver an innovative, safe, and responsible experience to Ontario consumers. We look forward to applying our expertise from Australia and the United States to help build a trusted, competitive, regulated iGaming market in Ontario, establishing an important foundation for our nation.”

PointsBet appears to be replicating their US growth strategy as they move into Canada. In the US, PointsBet set up an operational base in Denver and sought to become part of the community as well as tap into the state’s sports ecosystem. They’ve since expanded from Colorado into Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, West Virginia and Virginia. They’ve made a lot of progress in the US market despite the dogged determination of regulators in many states to keep everyone with the exception of legacy casino operators–or, even more noxiously their state lottery commission–out.

At this point, it’s unclear whether Canada’s other 9 provinces and three territories will seek to establish a competitive gaming market. If Ontario’s numbers are as good as I’m anticipating you’d think at least some of the other provinces/territories would look to jump on the bandwagon. Then again, New York is just over the Hudson River from New Jersey–aka the most financially successful sports betting jurisdiction in the US–but instead of just copying what the Garden State has done so well they’ve set up a convoluted, cronyist and highly restricted ecosystem. The early numbers from New York are strong but IMO once the ‘novelty’ of betting in-state wears off you’ll see them drop precipitously. The biggest issue is, of course, New York’s absurd 51% tax rate that makes it almost impossible for a sportsbook to succeed financially no matter how much business they write.

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