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Online Sports Betting Market In Ontario Heating Up Ahead Of April Launch

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Online Sports Betting Market In Ontario Heating Up Ahead Of April Launch

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Big things were anticipated for the Ontario sports betting market and the early indications are suggesting that big things are definitely going to be happening in the province very soon.

Last week, it was announced by the Ontario government that it would throw online sports betting wide open to private companies beginning on April 4. Already, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), the province’s regulator for iGaming, has revealed that 30 applications for online sports betting licenses have been processed.

Currently, the only legal operator of online sports betting in the province is the government’s own sportsbook Proline+, which launched last August, shortly after the Canadian government officially announced the legalization of single-game Canadian sports betting across the country.

At the time, Ontario was the lone province to confirm that it would be opening its doors wide open and welcoming private sports betting apps to register with the AGCO to offer their services in the Trillium province.

Industry insiders are watching the Ontario market very closely. With a population of nearly 15 million people, it offers the same density of people as New Jersey, a state that saw online gambling revenue skyrocket to rival that of mighty Nevada, the gambling capital of North America.

Those same industry insiders are convinced that a similar explosion of online betting could take place in Ontario, making it potentially a multi-billion dollar market.

RELATED: PointsBet Receives License To Launch In Ontario April 4

Seeking Their Piece Of The Pie

No wonder then that so many of the prominent American sports betting sites are anxious to get a foothold in Ontario. Already, it’s known that theScore Bet and PointsBet, two sportsbooks already holding a place of prominence in the USA market, are among the 30 seeking to gain an Ontario license.

It’s natural that theScore Bet would be among the first in line. The Canadian-owned media/sports betting company holds a strong presence in Canada through their sports news app, which has some 4 million followers. CEO John Levy believes that they can convert many of those newshounds into bettors.

“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,” Levy said in a statement.

American gambling giants Penn National Gaming also believe in theScore Bet. They merged with the company last year in a ploy similar to their partnership with the popular and controversial Barstool brand in the USA. Capitalizing on Barstool’s presence as a sports news outlet, several Barstool Sportsbooks have opened throughout the USA.

PointsBet Making Canada Push

PointsBet, an Australian-based company, is taking the same aggressive approach to their arrival in Canada that they did when they first landed on shore in the USA. Down south, the company opened an American head office and proceeded to launch sportsbooks in a number of states.

Already, they are developing a following in Canada. They hired Canadian pop culture icons The Trailer Park Boys as brand ambassadors and are featuring them in a cross-country ad campaign to make Canadians aware of the PointsBet brand. PointsBet has signed partnership deals with Curling Canada and the NHL Alumni.

Speaking during an iGaming conference at Western University in London, Ontario, PointsBet Canada Chief Commercial Officer Nick Sulsky talked about the company “engaging our Canadianism, really building an authentic connection to what it means to be a Canadian sports fan."

Another company that has registered is Rivalry Corp. They are known mainly as an eSports betting site catering to the European market and are licensed in the Isle of Man.

Registering with AGCO is the first step in the licensing process. Next, online sports betting sites will need to work with AGCO subsidiary iGaming Ontario to gain an operating agreement before they’re approved to be a legal and regulated Ontario sports betting site.

OLG Not Sitting Idly By

While the competition is ready to queue up at the start line, Proline+ isn’t about to meekly surrender the market share the site has carved out during nearly six months of operation.

The OLG announced earlier this week that it had formed a partnership with the NFL. Under this exclusive five-year deal, OLG and Proline become an official retail lottery and sportsbook partner of the NFL in Ontario and the NFL's first official sportsbook partner in Canada.

Much Of Canadian Market In Holding Pattern

While Ontario is swinging open its doors, other major Canadian provinces are opting to keep the welcome mat rolled up and in storage.

Hopes of British Columbia sports betting and Quebec sports betting following Ontario's lead seem slim at this point, with those two provinces seemingly content to stay with their government-run sports betting operations for the time being. Only Alberta is displaying a willingness to dip its toes into the private sportsbook pool. And they are doing so cautiously.

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis recently issued a request for proposals, seeking to grant two retail sports betting licenses to private sportsbooks. That window closed Jan. 31 but so far, there’s been no indication of which companies were the winners, or when that news might be revealed.

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