- theScore Bet has received registration as an Internet gaming operator from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
- theScore Bet is planning to launch their betting platform in Ontario when ‘free market’ sports betting goes live on April 4, 2022.
- PointsBet and theScore Bet have both received registration with more sportsbooks expected before launch date.
Yesterday, we talked about PointsBet updating their licensing status in Ontario as they prepare for an April 4 launch of their ‘competitive free market’ sports betting industry. The (metaphorical) ink had not dried on that story when a similar ‘licensing status update’ press release arrived from theScore Bet. Like PointsBet, theScore Bet is targeting an April 4 launch of their platform in Ontario which will quickly become a top five sports betting jurisdiction in North America. We’ll talk more about Ontario’s regulatory framework going forward but aside from the too-high 20% tax rate they’ve arguably ‘gotten it right’ more than any other state or province in North America.
The tax rate does require a bit of context–unlike most every other gaming jurisdiction that has launched sports betting since the fall of PASPA, Ontario isn’t requiring sportsbooks to subsidize the legacy gaming industry and/or other politically connected entities. In Colorado, for example, there’s a 10% tax rate but companies have to ‘partner’ with retail casinos. That makes their effective tax rate significantly higher. Depending on the terms of the ‘partnership’ agreement, Ontario’s tax rate might be not too far off from Colorado’s. Personally, I’d have liked to have seen a 15% tax rate–that combined with what otherwise is likely the best regulatory framework in North America would have established Ontario as the new epicenter of sports betting on the continent. Given the huge value–practical and symbolic–of the ‘untethered’ regulatory model I’m not too worked up about the 20% tax rate. Compared with New York’s combination of burdensome regulation, juiced in political cronies and a ridiculous 51% tax rate there’s not much to complain about.
I guess we’re going to get press releases from the major gaming companies at every stage of the Ontario licensing process. Anyway, theScore Bet has ‘achieved registration as an Internet gaming operator’ with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Not sure if this is different from the status of PointsBet–their press release made it sound like they were further along in the licensing process–but in any case, both companies will need to execute an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario–the newly created oversight body for the ‘free market’ sports betting/iGaming industry in the province. There are probably some other procedural steps that need to be completed but both theScore Bet and PointsBet are on target to launch on ‘opening day’.
Despite the fact that they’re now owned by a huge US based gaming corporation–Penn National–theScore Bet might have the most legitimate claim to deep Canadian roots of any company. theScore launched their first sports media app in 2005–it quickly became a favorite among serious sports bettors and ‘squares’ alike. theScore announced plans to enter the newly open US sports betting market in 2018 and launched theScore Bet in 2019. theScore Bet launched first in New Jersey before adding Colorado in August 2020. In October 2021, Penn National acquired theScore and–for now at least–have left them alone to do what they do best. theScore is headquartered in Toronto and as they note on their website has ‘roots in the city that date back to 1997’.
Ontario made the announcement that their open internet gaming market would debut on April 4 in late January and that elicited a response from Penn National President and CEO Jay Snowden. There’s a lot of sharp people in the gaming business and Snowden is right at the top of that list. Here’s what he said about Ontario in a press release:
“Our team at theScore has been hard at work preparing for the Ontario market opening, which presents a significant business opportunity. As Canada’s preeminent digital sports media brand, theScore is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the introduction of the open and regulated internet gaming market in Ontario, its home territory. Launching theScore Bet in Ontario will mark an exciting expansion of our online gaming business into a major new market where we already have an established mobile sports media product in theScore app and a wide base of loyal users. Today’s news is very exciting, and I would like to recognize and congratulate the government of Ontario and the AGCO and iGaming Ontario for their dedication to creating a modern open and regulated sports betting and iGaming market.”
John Levy, CEO, theScore, also commented on the forthcoming launch:
“We commend the Ontario government for their tireless efforts throughout this process and are thrilled to now have a confirmed launch date. The AGCO and iGaming Ontario have been thoughtful and collaborative in their approach to creating and managing this new industry, and the result is a soon-to-be-launched framework that will bring widespread benefits to Ontarians and establish Ontario as one of the biggest and most important regulated gaming markets in North America. We will be ready to launch theScore Bet in Ontario on April 4 and could not be more excited to finally offer our best-in-class mobile sports betting and iGaming experience to customers in our home province.”
Levy’s comments about the AGCO and iGaming Ontario are right on the money–they did a hell of a job. theScore’s CEO also offered a comment in the most recent press release:
“We’re thrilled to be one of the first operators to receive an internet gaming operator certificate of registration from the AGCO as we prepare for Ontario’s new regulated market. We’ve been and will continue to be at the forefront as regulated internet gaming is introduced in Ontario and are beyond excited to be able to bring theScore Bet to our home market on April 4. Finally, the countdown to launch has begun.”
Ontario is going to absolutely kill it. As soon as they get up and running they could–and should–be turning in New Jersey-like numbers every month. Ontario has a population of 14,826,276 compared to The Garden State’s 9,288,994. New Jersey does have the advantage of two huge cities on their Eastern and Western border with New York City and Philadelphia but that’s at least somewhat negated by New York’s launch of online sports betting. Sure, the ‘sharps’ will still drive over the border to New Jersey while the ‘squares’ bet into that 51% tax bite. Ontario’s situation might be even more advantageous–in Canada, the province is sandwiched between Manitoba and Quebec. The two biggest cities in each province–Winnipeg and Montreal–are just 2 hours (via the Trans-Canada Highway) and 1 hour (via the Autoroute du Souvenir) respectively from the Ontario border.
Then there’s Ontario’s neighbors over the US/Canada border, the most significant being Detroit. Detroit is just 7 minutes from Windsor, Ontario via the Detroit/Windsor Tunnel which makes the 20 minute or so drive from New York City to New Jersey seem like a long, arduous trek. Buffalo, New York is approximately 20 minutes from Toronto via the Peace Bridge. There’s also some good sized US cities right across Lake Erie and Lake Ontario but for some inexplicable reason there’s little in the way of ferry transportation from one side to the other.