- Ontario will launch their regulated and competitive iGaming market on April 4.
- The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is the oversight body for sports betting in the province.
- Ontario’s sports betting market should be one of the most competitive–and most lucrative–ecosystems found anywhere in the world.
We’ve already talked extensively about the soon-to-launch competitive igaming market in Ontario which will open for business on April 4, 2022. It’s going be very similar to another jurisdiction we’ve discussed–Wyoming–except that it will also include online casino gaming and poker. In terms of sports betting, it’s very similar to Wyoming and that’s a good thing.
There’s one significant difference between Ontario and Wyoming: population. Wyoming is the least populated state in the US with a population of 576,851. It wouldn’t be anywhere near the least populated province in Canada–while it’s significantly smaller than New Brunswick (789,225) it’s slightly more populated than Newfoundland (520,553). It has more people than the smallest four Canadian provinces combined: Prince Edward Island (164,318), Northwest Territory (45,504), Yukon Territory (49,986) and Nunavut–the 800,000 square mile territory that forms most of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago but has a population of only 39,403. If you’re scoring at home, that’s a population density of 0.052 people per square mile making ‘Big Wonderful Wyoming’ and its 6 people per square mile density look downright crowded.
Ontario is a different deal entirely. With a 2021 population of 14,915,270–representing a 10.91% growth rate over the previous five years)–Ontario would be the fifth most populous state in the US as we explained in a previous article:
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.
More importantly, it would make Ontario the second largest sports betting jurisdiction in the US. The good news is that population is all it has in common with the New York regulatory dumpster fire. If you want a thorough explanation of why Ontario’s regulatory framework is so exciting you can read this article:
ONTARIO’S REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR SPORTS BETTING IS INCREDIBLE
CURRENT ONTARIO ONLINE GAMING LICENSEES (AS OF MARCH 11, 2022)
Most industry projections expect the number of ‘outs’ in Ontario to exceed Colorado–tops in the US with 25 state licensed mobile sportsbooks plus two tribal gaming sportsbook apps–several times over. Throw in the iGaming only licensees in Ontario and that’s a no-brainer. Colorado will actually be down to 24 apps (pending any new launches) once TwinSpires Sports closes up shop. Judging from the variety of companies already licensed in Ontario I’d set the O/U for number of online/mobile sportsbooks by the start of NFL season at 45.5. With iGaming licensees we’re looking at 60 or 70. Right now, there are 14 total licensees (sports betting/iGaming combined). That includes one licensees with two separate licenses (not sure what that’s all about) and the provincial lottery run sports betting platform Proline+. Given the comprehensive betting options they provide and the fact that they’ll be operating in a competitive market (at least on the online/mobile front) this is a rare case where the lottery will count as an ‘out’.
We’re going to run down the current roster of licensees over the next few articles. I’ll include a quick profile of ones that might not be familiar and several of these will be followed up with a full article. List is in the same order as provided by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) web interface:
LOTTOGO: LottoGo.com is a brand owned by an Isle of Man based company called Annexio and the license is in their name. Right off the bat, we’ve got one of the more intriguing licensees and we’re going to give them a full article. Their primary business is betting on the outcome of lotteries including the big US networked games Mega Million and Powerball. They’ve also got casino games, slots, instant win games (scratchcards) and bingo. They were also in the news frequently in England a couple of years ago when a 19 year old self proclaimed London ‘Satanist’ made the proverbial ‘deal with the devil’ that he would win the lottery in exchange for a couple of murders. Guess which website he made his lottery bets on. Spoiler alert: he didn’t win.
A couple of other interesting subplots–LottoGo already accepts Canadian players. In addition, their primary product is one of the few types of gaming explicitly *not* allowed under Ontario’s regulations. This is from Standard 4.34 which outlines prohibited activities (eg: no betting on dogfights and cockfights, no financial betting):
13. Bets on synthetic lottery products and bets on lottery outcomes are prohibited;
I would imagine that *most* of their games would be permitted under Ontario’s regulations including the ‘Instant Win’ scratchcards. Like I said, plenty of questions.
COOLBET: Another one that will require some research. Licensee is a company called Coolbear Ontario Limited, a Malta based company incorporated in October 2021. In incorporated under the name ‘Grizzly Ontario Limited’ but changed to ‘Coolbear Ontario Limited’ in late November 2021. They likely learned that there’s already a million companies in Canada named ‘Grizzly’ including Grizzly LTD, an Ontario based landscaping concern. They’ve got ‘Coolbet.ca’ listed on the license but right now that resolves to a free to play site at ‘Coolbet.co’. The plot thickens–Coolbet is a iGaming and sportsbook platform based in beautiful Tallin, Estonia which holds licenses in Estonia, Sweden and Malta. They have recently been acquired by gaming technology provider GAN in a deal that closed in December 2021. Interestingly enough, GAN has a press release on their website indicating a launch of a ‘leading US B2C operator’ in Ontario. Wondering if that might have been Churchill Downs’ owned TwinSpires Sports? Coolbet has been accepting Canadian clients for awhile which apparently is no big deal to Ontario regulators. That’s the way it should be, but there’s plenty of US jurisdictions that would totally lose their sh*t in that situation. My guess is that Coolbet will be offering sports betting and iGaming. They’ll be getting a dedicated article. GAN has an earnings call coming up on March 22 and I’ll give it a listen.
FANDUEL: You’ve no doubt heard of FanDuel. They’ll be offering sports betting and casino gaming.
In part 2, we’ll continue our rundown of Ontario licensees.