- Toronto based NorthStar Gaming has announced the name of their forthcoming sports betting and iGaming platform as ‘NorthStar Bets’.
- NorthStar Gaming’s sportsbook will be powered with Kambi technology, while Playtech will provide the online casino technology.
- Ontario’s highly competitive mobile sports betting market is set to launch on April 4, 2022.
While the majority of US states are completely bungling their sports betting efforts, there’s finally a jurisdiction opening up that arguably has the smartest regulatory framework we’ve seen since the Supreme Court overturned PASPA. After years of trying, Canada finally approved single game wagering in 2021. The provincial lotteries were quick to jump on the bandwagon and in most Canadian proviences that’s where the situation stands. The exception is Ontario, which will launch a competitive online gaming market including iGaming and sports betting on April 4, 2022.
We’ll talk a lot about Ontario in the months to come–and for good reason. The iGaming market will be extremely robust but since our primary expertise is in sports betting we’ll focus on that. Ontario might have created the most intelligent regulatory framework for online/mobile sports betting of any North American jurisdiction. This, combined with favorable demographics should create the most competitive and vibrant sports betting ecosystem we’ve seen yet.
Americans might not realize the size of Ontario’s population. 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.
There have already been a number of companies targeting the market with a few already receiving licensing. The two biggest names of interest to US betting aficionados that are already listed on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario website are PointsBet and theScore Bet. Also licensed–a company called NSUS limited that appears to be launching a World Series of Poker branded website in the Canadian market at WSOP.ca along with a company primarily focused on esports that will also offer betting on traditional sports called Rivalry (rivalry.com).
The ranks of Ontario facing sportsbooks and other online gaming properties will grow dramatically in the weeks and months to come. MaximBet will be heading to Ontario and BetRegal has already partnered with the Canadian Football League (CFL) so you can be sure they’ll be there. One of the most interesting ‘newcomers’ could easily become one of the dominant brands ‘north of the border’–Toronto based NorthStar Gaming which shares corporate DNA with the parent company of the Toronto Star newspaper. They’ve already joined up with some impressive technology partners–Kambi will power their sports betting platform with Playtech handling the casino side. They’ll also feature integration with the Toronto Star’s website (https://www.thestar.com/) and that is huge. It is Canada’s largest daily print newspaper and has the largest readership in the country. Now NorthStar Gaming has a name for their betting platform.
Earlier today, NorthStar Gaming unveiled NorthStar Bets as the brand for their forthcoming casino and sportsbook:
According to the press release, they’ll be featuring sports and betting related content on their website while providing betting specific content to the Toronto Star website. They’ve already got a dedicated URL (thestar.com/sports/sports-betting) though most of the content currently posted is of the introductory variety (‘how to read betting odds’, ‘how to bet on the NBA, etc.). There’s a place for that stuff but I’ll be interested to see their more advanced content.
As we’ve discussed in the past, sportsbooks in newly regulated jurisdictions have to play this game–like no one in the history of the state (or province) even thought of betting on sports before it went legit. The reality is that since the early 1990’s (if not earlier), no matter where you lived in the US or Canada you had no trouble placing a bet. Some cities had a flourishing ‘local bookmaker’ ecosystem, everyone had access to the fast growing offshore bookmaking communities and the really lucky ones–Toronto, for example–had both. The Canadian Gaming Association has put the amount of annual sports betting in the country at $14 billion (I’m assuming that’s CAD and not USD). Even so, that would be just over $11 billion USD or roughly double the amount that Nevada’s regulated sportsbooks do annually. Based on these numbers, it appears that Canadians know quite a bit about how to bet on sports.
Michael Moskowitz, Chief Executive Officer and a founding partner of NorthStar Gaming, emphasized his company’s local roots:
“The NorthStar Bets brand pays tribute to our local roots, as a proudly Canadian-owned and operated brand, we take great pride in providing Ontarians with a hyperlocal gaming experience. We hope to inspire a sense of home team pride in our players as they discover our platform and unique NorthStar Bets content.”
Lorenzo DeMarchi, Interim CEO of Torstar, is also enthused about the future of NorthStar Gaming:
“We’re very excited to work with NorthStar Gaming as they prepare to launch a market-leading online gaming business in Ontario. With Ontario’s regulated online gaming and sports betting market set to open this spring, we’re sure there will be strong interest from our Toronto Star readers, particularly our sports readers, in the growing popularity of wagering content. Now, with the NorthStar Bets integration, readers will have access to gaming related insights and storylines at their fingertips.”
The mere existence of companies like NorthStar Gaming that seek to provide a ‘hyperlocal gaming experience’ underscores the quality of Ontario’s regulatory framework. This type of ‘hyperlocal gaming’ provided by a relatively new entrant into the gaming business just isn’t possible in most US jurisdictions with a few exceptions (Colorado and Iowa, among others). The rest of the US states have either relegated sports betting to the status of a gimmick game for the lottery or else they’ve crafted regulation at the behest of legacy gaming businesses and/or other politically powerful entities, financial benefactors, etc.