On April 4, 2022, Ontario became the first province in Canada to regulate online sports betting and gambling. From this date, players in ON can find dozens of licensed betting sites with guarantees of player safety. While it is very early for this new market, there are already signs that Ontario could become a massive market for online sports betting.
The launch wasn’t perfect, and some players reported issues with registering and depositing with sportsbooks. Others had trouble with account transfers from international sportsbooks to the newly regulated sites. However, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Our experts have studied the Ontario launch stats to see what the future holds for bettors in the province.
The Regulated Sports Betting Market
Online sports betting has a long and complicated history in Canada. Essentially, single-game wagering was prohibited with local sportsbooks. However, players could access international betting sites and place wagers. The problem was that international sportsbooks offered no guarantees for Canadian players regarding security.
The situation started to change with Bill C-218, which legalized single-game sports betting in Canada in the summer of 2021. This gave provinces the authority to regulate sports betting markets. Ontario government-backed sportsbook PROLINE started offering single-game wagering in December 2021. In January 2022, Ontario announced it was launching a regulated online gambling market overseen by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission Ontario (AGCO). The regulation went live on April 4, and every sportsbook now operating in ON is licensed by AGCO.
Sportsbook Operators in Ontario
iGaming Ontario, one of the regulatory bodies for online sports betting in the province, has a full list of betting sites available in Ontario. At the moment, that list includes sportsbooks like BetMGM, FanDuel, BetRivers, and bet365. Anytime a new gambling operator is licensed in the province, it will appear on the iGaming Ontario regulated market list.
Which Sportsbooks had the Most Successful Launch?
It’s hard to judge which sportsbooks performed well in such a short period without official handle numbers. However, early signs indicate theScore Bet has made a triumphant homecoming. The sportsbook app was the second most downloaded across Canada for the first week of regulated sports betting. This shows the success of this particular operator but also the importance of mobile betting for Canadian bettors.
Another early success could be bet365, which operated as an international sportsbook in the province before the regulated market launch. Google trend analytics show that bet365 has massively overperformed its competitors in how often people in Ontario have searched for sportsbooks. This data doesn’t reflect clicks and registering players, but it does indicate that bet365 is getting a lot of attention in the province.
Most Popular Betting Markets
It’s too early for official data about online sports betting in Ontario. However, we’ve already got an idea of the wagering market thanks to statistics released by BetRivers. BetRivers has revealed that the Masters golf has been the most popular event, accounting for 17% of the sportsbook’s betting handle. That’s no surprise, as significant sporting events always draw in bettors.
Interestingly, the NBA has taken a spot as the most popular betting sport, with 36% of the handle. The MLB only took 14% of the handle. The NBA playoffs are tipping off, which may explain this dominance. Also, traditionally popular betting sports like the NFL are not being played. But it is interesting that the Toronto Raptors were one of the most popular betting options on BetRivers. Considering Ontario has no NFL presence, this preference for local teams may help Ontario establish a stronger basketball and baseball betting market than US states.
Partnerships with Sports Franchises
Despite sports betting flying out of the gate, sportsbooks need to continue working to attract more customers and make the market sustainable in the long term. One popular strategy that has emerged is to sign partnerships with established Ontario companies.
FanDuel was quickly announced as an official betting partner of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE). This company operates the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, the MLS’ Toronto FC, and the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. These are some of the biggest franchises in the province, and FanDuel can use MLSE teams in advertising across its wagering platforms. Pointsbet signed a similar deal with the company shortly after.
FanDuel also partnered with Canadian sports network TSN. TSN is the exclusive provider for coverage of the CFL and Toronto FC. It also covers international sports like FIFA soccer competitions, Formula 1, and tennis grand slams. Many sports channels in the US have integrated odds and betting lines into the analysis of sports like the NFL. It appears TSN will incorporate sports betting into its coverage of sports similarly.
FanDuel is not the only betting site going all-in on the province. theScore Bet has also signed a ten-year agreement with the Toronto Blue Jays, giving the Toronto-based betting company exclusive marketing rights to the sports franchise. The Blue Jays were another of the most popular betting options at BetRivers in the first week of action.