Northern Exposure: Revenue Report Reaction, Study On Gray Market

Our top Canadian sports stories this week

  • Ontarians Wager $4 Billion (CAD), Market Produces $162 Million Gaming Revenue In Q1
  • Diamond Tooth Gerties: The Fascinating Story Of Canada’s Oldest Legal Casino
  • CFL Week 13 Wagering Preview: Argonauts, Tiger-Cats To Clash On Holiday Weekend

Event of the week

U.S. Open 

There’s a major buzz surrounding this year’s U.S. Open, which will be the last tournament of Serena Williams’ career. The legendary tennis star, who plans to retire after the event, knocked off No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in the second round on Wednesday to ensure that she will play at least one more singles match in her illustrious career, which includes 23 Grand Slam titles.

But there are are also several Canadians off to blistering starts at the Open.

Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 U.S. Open women’s champion, earned an impressive 6-2, 6-4 second-round win over 15th-seed Beatriz Haddad Maia on Wednesday night. She’ll now face France’s Caroline Garcia (-142) and is a small underdog (+118) in that match.

Earlier Wednesday, British Columbia‘s Rebecca Marino advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 7-6 (5) win over Ukraine’s Daria Snigur. She’s drawn China’s Zhang Shuai (-184) and is a +152 underdog in that matchup.

*Tennis odds courtesy of FanDuel.

Reaction to Ontario’s revenue report

Earlier this week, regulators released Ontario‘s first revenue report. There, it was revealed that Ontarians wagered more than $4 billion (CAD) and the new regulated market produced $162 million total iGaming revenue — from iCasino, online sports betting, and online poker — for the period of April 4-June 30. ($1 CAD is currently equal to $0.76 USD.)

The early numbers are drawing mixed reactions online, with many American reporters and media outlets describing them as “abysmal” and “crap” when compared to similar U.S. jurisdictions.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Amanda Brewer, the Canadian country manager at Kindred Group (which operates Unibet in Ontario), cautioned everyone to take the numbers with a grain of salt and consider the context before reaching conclusions.

Congratulations to iGaming Ontario, the AGCO [Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario), and my fellow licensed operators who contributed to this positive start to Ontario’s regulated iGaming market. I would encourage anyone comparing Ontario’s first set of results with any U.S. jurisdictions to resist, as Ontario’s market is not comparable to any of them. Some of the biggest operators in the world only entered in the last 4-8 weeks and the AGCO is seeking to end the transition period on October 31. These early results are encouraging and should be celebrated, but they do not show the full picture. Patience. We’ll get there.

Brewer, a gaming consultant with more than 20 years of experience, is also a senior advisor with the Canadian Gaming Association.

PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel also issued the following statement regarding the first revenue numbers: “The market report released today by iGaming Ontario speaks for itself. With 492,000 active player accounts, total cash wagers of [$4.076-billion], and a total gaming revenue of $162 million, the desire for a regulated market is strong.”

Several factors appear to be contributing to the somewhat underwhelming numbers, including the continued migration of gray market operators into the regulated market, and strict advertising restrictions from regulators that have hampered the ability of operators to entice new customers, among other factors.


Sports Interaction goes live

Well, that didn’t take long.

Just days after getting licensed with the AGCO, Sports Interaction secured an agreement with iGaming Ontario and successfully transitioned to the regulated market late last week.

Sports Interaction has been taking bets in Ontario since its inception in 1997 and is operated by Mohawk Online, a socioeconomic initiative wholly owned by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, based out of Quebec. It’s also regulated/licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

Ontario bettors have been wagering with the SI brand for some time and it’s estimated the operator already has significant market share.

New study confirms popularity of gray market

A recent study released by Betting Hero, a FansUnite (Vancouver-based) company, has concluded that over half of current Ontario sports bettors (51%) used a gray market mobile sportsbook before the province launched its regulated iGaming market on April 4.

Some of the other findings include:

  • 25% of Ontario bettors would try a new sports betting app because of promotions. This is roughly half of the 51% of New Jerseyans and 49% of New Yorkers who said the same.
  • A plurality (38%) of Ontario sports bettors list bet365, which operated in the Ontario gray market and is now licensed and regulated, as their preferred betting platform.
  • The study also revealed that payments have been the biggest customer headache in the regulated Ontario market, with 31% stating funding issues and slow withdrawal times are their largest frustration with their betting experience. This is more than double the 13% of New Yorkers who shared that frustration. These sharp differences imply that banks and payment processors are still working out the kinks of a new market.

“Betting Hero’s latest sports betting and iGaming assessment reveals that Ontario is understandably still grappling with its grey market past,” said Betting Hero President Jai Maw in a press release. “Sports bettors in Canada have noticeably different betting behaviors than their American counterparts. They’re less attracted to, and in many cases less aware of, available promotions and are seemingly more loyal to their preferred sportsbook.

“Unfortunately for new entrants to Ontario’s emerging legal sports betting market, that loyalty seems to be heavily weighted in favor of companies previously operating in Ontario’s grey market. Legacy U.S. and European sports betting companies entering Ontario could greatly benefit from tailoring their marketing and retention strategies to meet the unique needs of the Canadian consumer and regulatory environment.”

The study also confirmed that Ontario bettors prefer wagering on NFL football, NBA basketball, and NHL hockey, much like many U.S. markets.


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