Is Pinnacle Latest Gray-Market Into Regulated Ontario Sports Betting?

Written By Brad Allen on April 29, 2022
Ontario sports betting

Pinnacle is hiring a Canada country manager, in a sign the low-margin sportsbook operator might be switching to the regulated sports betting market in Ontario.

Pinnacle posted a job description Wednesday for a Canada Country Manager based in Toronto, the new center of ON sports betting.

Per the spec, the new hire will take ​​ownership of Pinnacle’s Canadian market expansion and market access.

What is Pinnacle planning?

That includes:

  • Scoping out product and platform requirements for Canadian market opportunities
  • Exploring JV and partnership opportunities

Pinnacle has been a long time participant in the gray market in Canada sports betting. However, the language of the job spec suggests the operator is considering a move to the regulated market.

Crossing the floor

Specifically, the role will:

“Work closely with our legal and compliance team to guarantee licensing requirements are planned and executed for new Canadian market entries.”

When asked for confirmation on Ontario plans, a Pinnacle source told LSR: “We’re looking at the province with interest but we won’t comment on specifics at this time.”

Big deal for Ontario sports betting

Pinnacle appears poised to still serve the rest of the gray market in Canada even if licensed in Ontario. That is the working assumption among gray-market ops.

As Canadian Gaming Association CEO Paul Burns said on a recent podcast: “Ontario can only deal with what happens inside the border of Ontario. Ontario doesn’t have an opinion on what you do elsewhere.”

Regardless, getting Pinnacle onshore could be a big win for the province given the sportsbook’s reputation and history.

Other gray-market giants like bet365 and bwin already made the switch. There are now 13 sportsbook live and taking bets in the white, according to iGaming Ontario.

Sports betting petri dish

If and when it comes, Pinnacle’s entry will also be an interesting test case for the low margin-model against the US market leaders like FanDuel and BetMGM.

Of course those US firms will not have the existing customer base that Pinnacle does.

What could this mean for US sports betting?

Pinnacle declined to comment on whether the company had any future plans for US sports betting.

A spokesperson said: “Pinnacle does not provide any kind of B2B or B2C service in the US.”

That said, Pinnacle owner Magnus Hedman is behind B2B pricing and risk-management firm 10star that is targeting regulated markets, including the US.

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Brad Allen

Brad has been covering the online gambling industry in Europe and the US for more than four years, most recently as the news editor at EGR Global.

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