Ontario finally has set a go-live date for online sports betting and gaming.
The market will launch April 4, the regulator iGaming Ontario (iGO), announced Friday.
There are unlimited licenses available but roughly 30 online operators are currently looking to go live, an ON sports betting source told LSR.
Tricky path to launch
The firm launch date is a relief for would-be Canada sports betting operators. The market was first slated to go live at the end of 2021, then pushed back to Q1 2022.
Then that date was in doubt when Great Canadian Gaming (GCC), the biggest land-based casino operator in Ontario, tried to delay the market.
The operator claimed online gaming would hurt its business and lower tax revenues. However, that argument was relatively easily disproved since gray-market operators are currently live and taking online bets.
Benefits of legal CA sports betting
“Today, most internet gaming by Ontarians takes place on websites not conducted and managed by the province,” said Martha Otton, iGO Executive Director.
“Our new internet gaming market will give consumers enhanced entertainment choice, support the growth of a new, legal market and generate revenue that can help fund programs and services that benefit all of us.”
How big will Ontario sports betting be?
Ontario sports betting could be huge. The province has a population of nearly 15 million people, and would be the fifth-largest US state.
An Eilers & Krejcik report estimated Ontario sportsbooks could generate up to CAD $570 million in sports betting revenue in 2022.
Its largest city, Toronto, is a prime North American sports hub with teams in MLS, NBA, NHL and MLB, as well as the CFL. Elsewhere in Ontario, Ottawa has an NHL and a CFL team. Hamilton also has a CFL team.
Sportsbooks positioning for Ontario
The major US sportsbooks all expressed plans to launch in Ontario.
PointsBet has built out an experienced executive team. It also partnered with Dailyfaceoff.com and The Nation Network of sports-focused websites in Canada.
Toronto-based theScore, which Penn National Gaming acquired in August, hopes for a significant share of the Canadian sports betting market. Penn said Friday it would be ready to launch theScore Bet on day one of the new market.
BetMGM looks to secure a hockey following, partnering with The Hockey News and Wayne Gretzky. DraftKings expanded its NFL daily fantasy sports partnership to include Canada.
Meanwhile, FanDuel has said it will treat Ontario very differently to the US market. The operator said it will localize its product, with more of a focus on Canadian sports.