What We Know About Ontario Sports Betting Ahead Of Launch
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A month out from the April 4 launch date for privately-owned and operated sports betting sites to begin offering their services to Ontario players, some factors are coming more clearly into focus.
Others, though, remain mysteriously uncertain. For example, which Ontario sports betting sites will be waiting at the start line to begin offering bets on Day 1? Also, how will traditional sign-up offers work in Ontario?
“I think the spring will be an interesting time as we see how many (sports betting sites) get ready,” said Paul Burns, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association. “There’s estimates of 10-15 in April. But it will be a gradual thing for a lot of companies.”
What Sites Are Launching In Ontario?
Estimates of as many as 30 sports betting sites launching in Ontario are being floated by industry insiders. Eventually, that may very well be the case. The province’s regulators, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and iGaming Ontario are certainly taking a more the merrier approach when it comes to sports betting.
However, in the short term, expect Ontario’s sports betting landscape to more closely resemble the mantra of the U.S. Marines: It will be the few and the proud who are ready to launch come April 4.
“I think it will be a smaller number than that looking to be ready for early April,” Burns said of projections of up to 30 Ontario online sportsbooks and betting apps. “I think you’re going to see people enter the market over the next 3-6 months to get to somewhere around that number. I don’t know if everybody is coming with sports but a lot are.
“I think it’s going to be gradual as companies come in. Obviously some are more focused on getting ready for Ontario than others.”
Among the most prevalent sites in terms of making their presence abundantly known in the Ontario marketplace are theScore Bet, PointsBet Ontario, Betway, BetRivers and NorthStar Gaming. The latter is a new Canadian-only betting site launched by the owners of the Toronto Star, the biggest daily newspaper in both Ontario and all of Canada.
“Everyone will move into the market when they’re ready and they’ve finished their process of getting ready to enter,” Burns said. “Some like theScore and NorthStar and BetRivers and PointsBet are out there doing a lot more and are keenly focused on this market.
“I think the spring will be an interesting time as we see how many get ready.”
PointsBet, theScore Bet and BetRivers have already established Ontario-specific websites through which players are able to pre-register.
Recent launches of legal, regulated online sports betting in Arizona, Louisiana and New York sports betting have kept some of the major U.S.-based sports betting sites occupied as they engage their product in those states.
“There’s a lot that’s happened in the last few months,” Burns said. “Companies have had to set their own priorities.”
What Bonuses Will Be Offered In Ontario?
One unique development in the advent of the Ontario sports betting marketplace is that online sportsbooks are prohibited from dangling sign-up bonus offers as a carrot in front of prospective players in order to lure them to join.Traditionally, these online betting sites utilize offers such as matching first-deposit bonuses or risk-free first bets to get new customers on board.
It’s not that the betting sites can’t offer sign-up bonuses to new players. What they are prevented from doing is spreading the word about the existence of these bonus offers.
“They can offer them,” Burns explained. “They just can’t put them in their mainstream advertising.
“You can put them on your website, you can offer them to players in your database. You just don’t put them in your TV commercials, your billboards, or in your advertising.”
Certainly, this dynamic will dramatically alter the way that online sports betting sites market their product to potential players in Ontario.
“It’s going to be competition based on strong product and not on incentive offers, or just on who’s got the biggest bonus,” Burns said. “It’s going to be a bit different from what we’ve seen in the United States.
“It is a little bit different than what the advertising and market launches have been in the U.S. That leads to a different style of offer, whether it be odds bonuses or other product incentives and not just straight deposit bonuses. It gives the operator lots of opportunities to do different things.”
RELATED: Ontario Online Sports Betting Market Heating Up Ahead Of April
What Sports Will Be Available To Bet In Ontario?
April is generally a huge time of year for sports fans. In the spring, a bettor’s fancy turns to baseball. Except for this spring, it would appear. A labour dispute between MLB owners and players is set to delay the start of the 2022 season.
Without baseball, the Canadian sports betting cupboard won’t be completely bereft of markets. The NHL will be in the midst of the final month of regular-season play leading into the Stanley Cup playoffs. And April 4, opening day for private sports betting sites to launch in Ontario, also happens to be the date of the March Madness NCAA men’s basketball final.
Ontario truly is going to be a wild west when it comes to betting markets. There will be action on just about everything.
“In terms of e-sports, live in-game and live dealer (online casino), all that’s permitted,” Burns said. “There’s very little that’s not available. In that way it will be pretty robust.
“The AGCO in setting the standards, did the right thing by allowing the widest variety of product into the market. I think that’s going to make it exciting and gives the operators the opportunity to offer a full range of products.”
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