With a variety of partnerships ranging from Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews to the Ottawa Senators, Bet99 was one of the more visible gray-market operators in Ontario sports betting.
Now, Bet99 is awaiting Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario approval to transition to the regulated Ontario sports betting market. As the operator waits for approval, publicly owned Kings Entertainment Group announced Wednesday it acquired Bet99 parent company Sports Venture Holdings (SVH) Inc.
The deal is dependent on SVH receiving AGCO approval.
Complicated Canada sports betting situation
Bet99 operates Canada sports betting through a variety of channels. Bet99.com is a real-money sportsbook regulated through the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, located in the sovereign Kahnawake Mohawk Territory.
Bet99.com and Bet99.net, a free-to-play site, are operated by a Swiss subsidiary, BQC Consulting GmbH. A new Canada-based subsidiary applied for AGCO registration and will run Bet99.ca.
The company’s partnerships advertise the free-to-play site, according to Bet99 CEO Jared Beber. LSR recently caught up with Beber to chat through transitioning into the new Ontario sports betting world.
LSR: How was Bet99 operating sports betting in Canada prior to C-218?
Beber: Sports Venture Holdings is a Canadian-based holding company. Bet99 is operational, regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and operating outside Canada.
Our intention is to obtain all the respective provincial licenses as they become available, and migrating the Bet99.com players to Bet99.ca.
LSR: So the database will remain the same in Ontario sports betting? How does that work?
Beber: All players on Bet99.com will essentially have their accounts shifted. There are a variety of requirements to make sure we’re in accordance, whether that’s having players sign off on new terms and conditions or performing enhanced due diligence on the players.
We’re extremely by the book. There is no room for us to make a mistake from that side of things. But we’ll make it as seamless as possible to transition over.
LSR: And the AGCO has worked with you through that?
Beber: They have been collaborative in providing the guidance to allow for the transition. But at the end of the day, it’s a robust set of guidelines and rules and ultimately it’s our responsibility to apply them correctly.
It’s very much on us to get it right. We are risk adverse. There’s no messing around with regulators.
LSR: Bet99 has a variety of partnerships, including Auston Matthews, Ottawa Senators, MLS’s CF Montreal, and the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes. How will that work once regulated in Ontario?
Beber: The fundamental difference in advertising while operating the AGCO-regulated site vs. the other site is our ability to be more direct to real money. Bet99.com does not advertise, but Bet99.net does.
Moving into the Ontario regulated world, it will be advertising Bet99.ca. So, there are nuances in the advertisement agreements to reflect those differences.
LSR: How does the Kings Entertainment deal affect the sports betting business?
Beber: The reality is it was a massive opportunity to keep the foot on gas pedal and keep the company in growth mode. We recognize we’re going up against significant competition.
It was important for us to find a path to the public markets where we see opportunity, not just to new investors and capital, but access to acquisitive opportunities with complementary businesses – whether that’s media, affiliation side, or B2B, B2C – in terms of building on to the base that is Canada and geographic expansions.