Ontario’s gaming industry on Tuesday (April 4) celebrated the first anniversary of private online gambling operators launching in the province, with top provincial officials hailing year one of regulated iGaming as a major success.
“One-year-olds are typically learning to walk; we got thrown in the deep end and ran from the beginning,” said Doug Downey, Ontario’s attorney general, during an event hosted Tuesday by the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) to commemorate the anniversary.
iGaming Ontario (iGO), which conducts and manages the private operator-based online gaming industry, reported Tuesday that operators have produced about C$1.4bn in combined sports betting and online casino revenue since the April 4, 2022 launch.
“I haven’t used the word thrilled as much as I have in the last year,” said Martha Otton, executive director of iGO.
iGO has yet to release data that reveals the split between online sports betting and online casino revenue, although Otton did add that “the majority of activity” is on the casino side.
On the sports-betting side, basketball was the most wagered on sport, accounting for 28 percent of all bets, followed by soccer and American football. Surprisingly, in the country most associated with ice hockey, the sport was the fourth most wagered on sport, making up only 9 percent of wagers.
In online casino, 48 percent of wagers were in online slots, with 32 percent in live-dealer table games and the remaining 19 percent on computerized table games.
When asked about the sports betting and casino split, as well as potentially releasing operator market share data, Otton said iGO continues to review its data release policy and could release additional data later this year.
Dave Pridmore, chief gaming officer of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), which operates a competitive government-run online gaming product whose revenue is not included in the private-operator based totals, added that he did not think OLG would object to a release of its own revenue data, although that would require additional governmental approvals.
“I also agree it'd be helpful to see the whole market picture, to be quite candid,” he said. “It's something we've talked about, and I suspect it'll be something that we’ll probably, hopefully, gain approval for in order to give a complete picture.”
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which regulates gaming in the province, also released details of a study conducted in March by Ipsos that found that more than 85 percent of Ontarians who placed a real-money bet of some kind online did so on a regulated site, although of that group, more than 19 percent used both regulated and unregulated sites.
“I want to be really clear that we know we have a lot of work to do, and this is just one study,” said Dave Phillips, chief operating officer of AGCO. “But of course, these are very encouraging indicators of where we're at within just the first year and everything that represents for players, for operators and for the province.”
A common thread throughout many speakers during the full-day event was the belief among many that although improvements can still be made, the Ontario framework is one that can serve as a model for other jurisdictions seeking to legalize online gaming, including potentially other Canadian provinces.
“At this point, I think you see jurisdictions from around the world looking at Ontario as an example,” said Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada, citing regulations in Ohio as an example of a U.S. jurisdiction following in Ontario’s footsteps.
“It's really remarkable, if you step back and look at just how far this industry has come in the preceding 12 months, where we were at, how much of the regulation and how much of the framework this industry actually got right.
“It's not without its moments of friction, but it actually has been remarkably robust.”