Live Blog: Up-To-Date Ontario Sports Betting, Casino Launch News

Written By Dave Briggs on April 1, 2022 - Last Updated on May 18, 2022
Man launching himself

Ontario online sports betting and casino markets are live.

Just past midnight on April 4, a new era for provincial online gambling went live. A long list of operators will set up shop in Ontario. The province is home to nearly 15 million people, making it the fifth-largest jurisdiction in North America.

News about the legal gaming market in Ontario is continuous. PlayOntario will update this page with live updates here. You’ll want to bookmark this page and check back often.

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Latest Ontario launch developments

Wednesday, May 18 – 2:40 p.m.

Bumpy start for DraftKings in Ontario, so far

Yes, we know DraftKings is only a little more than an hour into its launch in Ontario. But, given that they have arrived seven weeks after the market launched in Ontario, you would have hoped for a better start.

Multiple Ontario users — including this writer — cannot sign-up with the operator.

Also, there’s no DK sportsbook and/or casino app to download, yet, in the iOS app store.

Let’s hope they get the wrinkles ironed out soon.

 

Wednesday, May 18 – Noon

iGaming Ontario now lists DraftKings as a regulated site

Further to an earlier post, iGaming Ontario now lists DraftKings as a regulated site able to take live bets in the province.

That makes DraftKings the 18th operator (counting Proline) to gain official clearance to go live. Sixteen other operators are registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, but still have to sign an operating agreement with iGO before going live.

Wednesday, May 18 – 10:32 a.m.

DraftKings expected to go live in Ontario this afternoon

Word is that DraftKings is expected to go live with its online sportsbook and casino in Ontario early this afternoon.

So far, DraftKings is not listed by iGaming Ontario as having signed an operating agreement needed before opening for business in the province.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, May 17 – 10:48 a.m.

Proline reports massive betting numbers on the Maple Leafs

Tony Bitonti, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s director of external communications checked in this morning with some interesting stats on the NHL playoffs, particularly the first-round Toronto Maple Leafs-Tampa Bay Lightning series won by the Lightning Saturday in Game 7. The Leafs took an incredible percentage of the bets placed.

Bitonti said:

“The big story of the week was the Leafs and Tampa series. They played four times this week but were responsible for an astounding 34.5% of all NHL hockey sales over that time, quite outsized vs the other 21 games.  We are expecting a drop-off of NHL sales going forward with the Leafs out and less games overall.”

As for Game 7 itself, Bitonti reported that:

  • 66% of moneyline bets were on the Leafs
  • 86% of puckline bets (-1) were on the Leafs
  • 66% of puckline bets (-1.5) were on the Leafs
  • 59% of OU bets were on the over.
  • the percentage of wagers was: 58.5% on moneyline, 13.4% on main puckline and 6.2% on main over/under.
  • the most popular player prop bet was Auston Matthews Goals 0.5 – 61% of the wagers were on the Under

Bitonti also reported that one bettor turned $10 into $1,441 with an eight-team parlay over May 14/15. Other than the Lightning, he also picked Carolina Panthers, Edmonton Oilers, Chicago White Sox, Boston Celtics, New York Rangers, Calgary Flames and the Dallas Mavericks.

Another bettor turned $5 into $565.23 with a 10-team parlay all on May 14.  Other than the Lightning, he also picked Calgary Flames, Carolina Panthers, Edmonton Oilers, Miami Marlins +1.5, Pittsburgh Pirates +1.5, Detroit Tigers +1.5, St. Louis Cardinals +1.5, Toronto Blue Jays +1.5, and Boston Red Sox +1.5.

Monday, May 16 – 3:10 p.m.

DraftKings latest to drop daily fantasy sports in Ontario

News of the impending arrival of DraftKings in Ontario as a legal sportsbook and casino has come at a cost to its daily fantasy sports players.

The company announced today that:

“Starting shortly before the launch of Sportsbook and Casino, users physically located in Ontario will be restricted from playing in both free and paid daily fantasy sports contests on DraftKings. Until that time, you can continue to play daily fantasy sports on DraftKings, as normal.”

The reason is that Ontario regulators consider DFS sports betting. Since Ontario only allows sports betting within its borders, DFS players cannot compete against players outside of the province. That limits the number of players and makes the prize pools too small to be attractive.

FanDuel, which is already live in Ontario, previously announced it was suspending DFS in Ontario for this reason and Dale Hooper, the GM for FanDuel Canada elaborated on that decision in a recent interview with PlayOntario.

 

Monday, May 16 – 2:45 p.m.

Matthew Sunderland on why BetMGM has had a strong start in Ontario

Matthew Sunderland, BetMGM’s vice-president of gaming, tells PlayOntario he believes the company has been well-received in Ontario for a number of reasons:

“Ambassadors like Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid, a substantial post-launch jackpot of nearly CA$650,000 (see item from April 21 below), and great MGM brand recognition… We’re both pleased with our early performance and encouraged by the future of the market in Ontario.

Sunderland said he believes product will win out in the long-term in Ontario’s competitive market already home to 17 live operators and at least 17 more coming. In all the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has registered 34 operators. Sunderland said:

“Prior to the first day of regulated gaming in Ontario, we understood that the market would be competitive. Competition is always a challenge, but we remain confident that our sports, poker, and casino offerings will attract and retain players across the province.”

BetMGM earned the highest ranking among eight operators in PlayOntario’s unscientific study of how hard (or easy) it was to sign-up with Ontario sportsbooks and place a bet.

On April 26, BetMGM was named Casino Operator of the Year at the EGR North American Awards in Jersey City, NJ.

 

Sunderland told PlayOntario:

“Our success this year was largely due to couple of key factors; our jackpot network, exclusive game content and live dealer offering. We currently have the largest exclusive state-by-state in-house progressive network in the U.S. and offers players a chance at life-changing prizes every day. We awarded $50 million in the past 12 months alone.

“Additionally, our in-house and third-party exclusive game content has helped us build the industry’s largest games portfolio… We have a player-centric mentality and will continue building the industry’s best games portfolio with in-house, from third parties, and exclusive games.

“This year, to maintain our top spot in iGaming, we’ll continue to strengthen our omnichannel relationships with MGM Resorts properties across the country, expand our games portfolio, and more.”

Of course, how BetMGM is doing financially in Ontario is not known, yet. The earliest revenue figures for the province’s online gaming operators is expected to be released is after the June 2 election and likely sometime in July.

Monday, May 16 – 10:40 a.m.

DraftKings, Fallsview officially registered with the AGCO

DraftKings and Fallsview are both a step closer to launching in Ontario.

Both are now officially registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. That makes now 34 gaming operators officially registered with the AGCO as of this morning.

Before going live, both Fallsview and DraftKings first must sign an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario.

Currently, 16 operators — counting the legacy one at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. — have gone live after signing operating agreements with iGO.

 

Tuesday, May 10 – 9:30 a.m.

Fallsview casino launching mobile sportsbook

Here’s one we missed from last week… Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls, ON is teaming up with Kambi Group to launch a mobile sportsbook.

Fallsview, the largest land-based casino in Canada, is operated by Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment.

“Once launched, this will mark MGE’s first online mobile gaming product outside of the United States and we’re really looking forward to our partnership with Kambi Group on this new venture,” Rich Roberts, president of Mohegan Digital for MGE said in a release.

There’s no timetable, yet, for Fallsview’s launch into Ontario’s online gaming market. As of this morning, the company is not listed as being officially registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. After that happens, MGE will have to sign an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario before going live.

Monday, May 9 – 4:15 p.m.

NorthStar Bet approved to go live by iGaming Ontario

After many weeks with 16 live online gaming operators, Ontario finally has its 17th.

iGaming Ontario announced via Twitter that NorthStar Bet has “joined the new market as a regulated and approved operator.”

 

Friday, May 6 – 10:46 a.m.

DraftKings to launch in Ontario before end of June

One of the biggest mysteries concerning Ontario’s online gaming launch has been answered… sort of.

In its 2022 first-quarter report issued this morning, DraftKings announced it is expected to launch in Ontario before the end of the second quarter. Its second-quarter began April 1 and ends June 30.

In a press release, DraftKings expects the combination of its acquisition of Golden Nugget Online Gaming, Inc. and the Ontario launch “will contribute an additional $130 million to $150 million in revenue and negative $50 million to negative $70 million in Adjusted EBITDA in fiscal year 2022.”

In the first quarter, DraftKings reported revenue of $417 million, an increase of 34% compared to $312 million during the same period in 2021.

Jason Robins, the co-founder, chief executive officer and chairman of the board, said:

“DraftKings delivered significant growth across our key revenue and performance metrics. We are not seeing any impact from inflationary pressures on customer demand, and we continue to improve the user experience by adding breadth and depth to our DFS, mobile sports betting and iGaming products. We are also improving our efficiency in acquiring and retaining customers and have a strong pipeline of new jurisdictions to enter.”

 

Friday, May 6 – 10:35 a.m.

Auditor General estimates gaming will deliver $75 million to Ontario over three years

Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk is estimating that Ontario’s new, regulated gaming industry will generate around $75 million in revenue for the province over three years.

The Pre-Election 2022 Multi-Year Fiscal Plan was released this week just before the Ontario election campaign started.

Lysyk’s report said iGaming Ontario is expected to see net income of $18 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year, followed by $26 million for 2023-24 and $31 million for 2024-25, totalling a combined $75 million over three years. Though, given that the open market is just one month old, the report cautioned that it was “not feasible to assess the reasonableness of the projections.”

Tuesday, May 3 – 10:10 a.m.

SkillOnNet is the 32nd operator officially registered with the AGCO

The number of online gaming operators now officially registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is now 32 as of this morning.

SkillOnNet is the latest operator to complete the registration process.

Before going live, SkillOnNet first must sign an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario.

Currently, 16 operators — counting the legacy one at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. — have gone live after signing operating agreements with iGO.

SkillOnNet was founded in 2005 and has predominantly served European markets.

Tuesday, May 3 – 9:22 a.m.

Canadian Gaming Association’s Paul Burns to be inducted Sports Betting Hall of Fame

Canadian Gaming Association president and CEO Paul Burns is one of four people that will be inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame.

The ceremony will be held on July 13 at The Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford, NJ. The ceremony will be part of the SBC Summit North America 2022 being held July 12-14 at the nearby Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ.

The Sports Betting Hall of Fame was established to recognize the achievements and outstanding contributions of the pioneers who have made a long-lasting mark on the industry.

Burns will be inducted along with:

  • Chris Andrews – Sports Book Director, South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa
  • Sandy Drozd – Vice President, USBookmaking
  • Vinny Magliulo – Vice President, Las Vegas Dissemination Company & Sports Book Director, Gaughan Gaming

Monday, May 2 – 9:57 a.m.

What does future hold for LeoVegas in Ontario if MGM deal goes through?

MGM Resort International announced this morning via press release that it “has commenced a recommended a public tender offer for 100% of the shares of LeoVegas AB (publ) (“LeoVegas”) at a price of SEK 61.00 in cash per share.”

This morning the US equivalent is about $6.17 per share for a total tender value of approximately $617 million.

LeoVegas is one of Ontario’s 16 approved and live iGaming operators. BetMGM is also one of Ontario’s live operators.  If the deal goes through for MGM, could that mean one fewer operator in the province as LeoVegas is gobbled up?

MGM Resorts’ CEO president Bill Hornbuckle said the deal was aimed at growing MGM’s presence in Europe.

“Our vision is to be the world’s premier gaming entertainment company, and this strategic opportunity with LeoVegas will allow us to continue to grow our reach throughout the world,” said Hornbuckle. “We have achieved remarkable success with BetMGM in the U.S., and with the acquisition of LeoVegas in Europe we will expand our online gaming presence globally.  We believe that this offer creates a compelling opportunity that allows the combined teams of MGM Resorts and LeoVegas to accelerate our global digital gaming growth and fully realize the potential of our omnichannel strategy.”

LeoVegas was founded in 2011 by Gustaf Hagman and Robin Ramm-Ericson. The business is headquartered in Stockholm with offices in Malta, United Kingdom and Milan.

Thursday, April 28 – 2:37 p.m.

Proline seeing lopsided betting on the Raptors

Some interesting numbers courtesy of Ontario’s legacy sportsbook on the Toronto Raptors v. Philadelphia 76ers playoff series. While heavy betting on the “hometown” Raptors should be expected, perhaps this is extreme.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s Proline reports that for Monday’s Game 5, “78% of the spread money was on the Raptors +7.5 while 52% of customers correctly predicted the Raps to win the game outright.”

As for tonight’s Game 6 tilt, the OLG’s Tony Bitonti reports, “we currently have 86% of the spread money on the Raptors +1.5 and 82% of players are taking the Raptors to win on the moneyline.”

In other Proline news, Bitonti said the sportsbook has also started offering, “a selection of smaller, niche sports such as rugby, darts, snooker, etc.

Thursday, April 28 – 11:20 a.m.

Former Canadian Sportsbet Prime Time podcast rebrands, joins SiriusXM

Just prior to the April 4 online gaming launch in Ontario, we brought you the story of the Canadian Sportsbet Prime Time podcast. As of last Friday, the show has joined the SiriusXM lineup and rebranded itself as the SiriusXM Sportsbet Primetime.

Toronto-based host Matt Howorth and John Siscos announced on the April 22 show that they are no longer just covering Canadian sports betting, the show has broadened its reach to North America.

Wednesday, April 27 – 10:50.m.

BetMGM voted Casino Operator of the Year

At last night’s EGR North American Awards in Jersey City, NJ,  BetMGM was named the Casino Operator of the Year.

“We have spent the last year at BetMGM working to solidify our position at the top of the iGaming industry throughout the North American market,” said BetMGM vice president of gaming Matthew Sunderland in a release. “Our team is humbled to be recognized as the industry’s best and our success is a true testament to our player-focused operational mindset.” 

The award goes to the online casino operator that has been able to dominate the sector through their global reach and quality of their product. Nominees were judged on the originality of their product, strength of brand, and innovations helping to set their offering apart from competitors. Organizational growth, product quality, customer engagement, customer acquisition, and retention strategies also were considered.

BetMGM was recognized for “offering the country’s largest exclusive state by state in-house progressive jackpot network, a robust games and engagement tool portfolio, first class partnerships, and an omnichannel focus.” 

“We are honoured to be recognized as the Casino Operator of the Year,” said Adam Greenblatt, chief executive officer, BetMGM. “Thanks to continued support from MGM Resorts and Entain, our broad gaming portfolio, and strong partnerships, we are confident our casino product will continue setting the bar for years to come.”

Tuesday, April 26 – 2:35 p.m.

After more than two years of silence, concerts resume at Casino Rama this Friday

Casino Rama has long been one of the busiest entertainment venues at an Ontario casino. But for more than two years the Orillia venue’s concert hall has been silent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That all changes Friday when country artist Jake Owen will be the first to take the stage and kick off the resumption of entertainment at Casino Rama.

The flagship facility of Gateway Casino’s 13 Ontario gaming venues has acts booked into 2023.

Some highlights include:

  • Avril Lavigne – April 30
  • Ringo Star & His All-Star Band – May 27 and 28
  • Gordon Lightfoot – June 4
  • Steve Earle & The Dukes — July 15
  • Ice Cube — Sept. 2
  • The Beach Boys — Oct. 21 and 22

Monday, April 25 – 2:45 p.m.

PointsBet Canada announces Brett Jackman as its VP of strategy

Brett Jackman has been hired as the new vice-president of strategy for PointsBet Canada. Jackman will report to PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel.

In a press release, PointsBet said: Jackman was most recently the senior director of corporate strategy for Rogers Communications. He holds nearly 15 years of professional experience as a strategy and transformation leader, advising large North American companies on their growth strategy initiatives and top priorities, including new market and product launches, enterprise transformations, and M&A.

“The opening of the regulated iGaming market in Ontario represents one of the most exciting business opportunities within Canada in recent memory,” Jackman said. “As the industry collectively continues to build, we know this space will soon touch so many Canadians from coast to coast to coast. I look forward to playing a role in ensuring that PointsBet Canada capitalizes on this incredible opportunity and delivers a truly authentic and differentiated product experience for Canadian sports fans.”

Jackman holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the Ivey Business School and undergraduate degrees in Business and Medical Sciences from Western University. He currently sits on the Board of Lakefield College School and serves as chair of the Finance and Audit Committee.

Friday, April 22 – 11:47 a.m.

Good news story: bet365 makes Ontario bettor whole on NCAA futures bet

In an update to a story PlayOntario brought you on launch day (April 4), Ontario sports bettor Garnet Barnsdale has been made whole by bet365 for a futures bet he made on Kansas prior to the NCAA men’s March Madness basketball tournament beginning.

“After several emails and finally a phone discussion with a supervisor, they paid out the full Kansas wager — gave me the difference between the $984 I cashed out and the $3,200,” Barnsdale said via email this morning. “They deposited $2,216 in my account this morning.”

Barnsdale placed his $200 wager on Kansas at 15-1 odds after the March Madness bracket was released. Since Barnsdale placed the bet when the bet365 was still a grey-market operator, he was forced to cash out before the operator moved to the white market on April 4 and before the title game was played. The NCAA championship game was the evening of April 4, with Kansas defeating North Carolina 72-69.

While Barnsdale said dealing with customer service at bet365 was initially challenging, “for $2200 it was worth pursuing for sure.”

Thursday, April 21 – 4:00 p.m.

Ontario gambler hits nearly $645,000 jackpot at BetMGM

BetMGM has awarded its first major jackpot in Ontario and it’s a doozy.

The operator announced via press release that it has awarded a $643,412 jackpot to one of its casino players. The person is a new BetMGM casino player who won the jackpot playing $1 on Viking Riches, an exclusive BetMGM game built by Entain’s Win Studios.

“After many years of awarding record jackpot prizes in the States, BetMGM is thrilled to award its first major payout to a player in Ontario,” said Matthew Sunderland, VP of Gaming, BetMGM. “In 2021, BetMGM awarded the largest prize in U.S. online casino history. We’re proud of today’s announcement and look forward to many more years of providing life-changing jackpot prizes to Canadian players.”

 

Thursday, April 21 – 3:38 p.m.

ComeOn! officially the 31st gaming operator registered by the AGCO

Today, ComeOn! was added to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s list of gaming operators that have officially registered to do business in Ontario.

ComeOn! is the 31st operator on the AGCO’s list. But before ComeOn! is legally able to take bets in Ontario, it must first complete an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario.

 

Thursday, April 21 – 3:21 p.m.

Top four sportsbooks, combined, account for 79% of the app downloads in Ontario

A report by Barclays shows that bet365, theScore Bet and FanDuel dominated the sportsbook app downloads in Ontario over the first 10 days of launch.

The three operators combined for 68% of the total number of downloads. Throw in fourth-place BetMGM and the big four had 79% of the total downloads.

The total ranking is:

  • bet365 and theScore Bet – tied with 24% of the downloads
  • FanDuel – 20%
  • BetMGM – 11%
  • 888 – 6%
  • Betway – 5%
  • Others – 10%

 

Tuesday, April 19 – 5:03 p.m.

Streaming company DAZN entering Ontario sports betting market

Legal Sports Report’s Brad Allen is reporting streaming company DAZN is entering the sports betting market and is targeting Ontario for its first location. DAZN hopes to be taking bets in the province by the third quarter of 2022.

The product will initially be powered by Sportradar’s Optima platform, LSR reported.

In Ontario, DAZN is the exclusive streaming provider of NFL games. The streaming site has 15 million subscribers worldwide.

 

Tuesday, April 19 – 2:23 p.m.

Betway is the 30th operator officially registered with the AGCO

The number of online gaming operators now officially registered with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has reached 30.

Betway is the latest operator to complete the registration process.

Before going live, Betway first must sign an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario.

Currently, 16 operators — counting the legacy one at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. — have gone live after signing operating agreements with iGO.

 

Tuesday, April 19 – 9:15 a.m.

theScore Bet has strong Ontario start in terms of app downloads

Multiple outlets (we saw it at The Parleh) are reporting this morning that a Morgan Stanley analyst has determined that theScore Bet has received about 50% of the sportsbook app downloads since Ontario’s online market opened on April 4.

The analyst said theScore Bet had around 79% of the sports betting app downloads on opening day, but has now dropped back to about 30%. Alternatively, bet365 started slowly with about 17% of the sports betting app downloads, but has gained momentum. This past weekend bet365 had about 50% of the app downloads.

Reminder that app downloads isn’t an indication of revenue or betting activity through those apps.

 

Monday, April 18 – 3:20 p.m.

BetMGM launches private dealer studio, expanded casino games in Ontario

BetMGM announced today that it has launched a private online dealer studio of its own, built in partnership with Evolution. The BetMGM studio features six live casino blackjack tables. And players will continue to have access to the full Evolution portfolio. That includes online live casino games and games shows, Evolution First Person games, and NetEnt and Red Tiger online slots.

The enhancements are designed to give players a variety of price points for interaction with a live dealer and hundreds of other players.

BetMGM also has released 108 new slot and video table games on BetMGM Casino. The number of games at BetMGM is now over 170. The expansion includes exclusive titles such as MGM Grand Millions, Premium Blackjack Pro, and Mega Mirage Magma.

The update also features games from the following BetMGM partners:

  • NetEnt (Divine Fortune, Gonzo’s Quest)
  • IGT (Cleopatra, Wheel of Fortune Megaways)
  • Pariplay (Jackpot Fortunes, Spirit of Mustang)
  • Pragmatic Play (Cash Bonanza, Treasure Wild).

“BetMGM is proud to continue Ontario launch celebrations through the rollout of our dedicated live dealer studio and the expansion of our slot and table games portfolio on BetMGM Casino,” said Matthew Sunderland, VP of Gaming, BetMGM. “Through our live offering, the goal is to strengthen Ontarians’ touchpoints with our iconic, black-and-gold BetMGM brand.”

Thursday, April 14 – 9:28 a.m.

NorthStar Bets the 29th operator registered with AGCO

NorthStar Bets is now the 29th operator registered by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The company, which has ties to the Toronto Star, still has to complete an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario before it can go live.

 

Tuesday, April 12 – 11:49 a.m.

bwin, Party now live in Ontario, 16 operators now approved

This morning, iGaming Ontario updated its list of regulated gaming operators to include bwin and Party.

That puts the number of live operators — counting the legacy operator at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. — officially at 16.

 

Tuesday, April 12 – 11:28 a.m.

Woodbine teams up with AccuWeather

Last week’s launch of online gaming in Ontario will be followed closely by another gaming launch this Saturday: the 2022 Opening Day card of thoroughbred racing at Toronto’s Woodbine Racetrack.

In the lead-up to the return of the runners at Woodbine, the track has announced a new partnership with AccuWeather. Woodbine’s betting platform, HorsePlayer Interactive, will now feature AccuWeather race day forecasts and insights for over 400 racetracks HPI offers for betting around the world. The tool will help inform horse bettors.

“We are constantly looking for new ways to enrich the customer experience and give them a competitive advantage when placing their bet,” said Kevin Maharaj, director – digital strategy at Woodbine Entertainment. “Providing real-time weather updates is a vital piece of information that is strongly valued by any seasoned player.  We are very excited to bring these very important data points to our customers.”

 

Monday, April 11 – 11:11 a.m.

Hail, Caesars! sportsbook app now available in Ontario

It was delayed by a week, but the Caesars sportsbook app is now available for download in Ontario in the iOS App Store.

As we reported here a week ago (see below), the company has been taking wagers through its website in the province since the April 4 launch.

Ontario bettors discussing launch day on Discord and Twitter certainly noticed right away that the app was, initially, unavailable.

The company has not said what caused the holdup, but I’m sure Caesars fans in Ontario are relieved it has now been resolved.

 

Monday, April 11 – 8:58 a.m.

PointsBet signs deal to be Official Sports Betting partner of four MLSE pro teams

PointsBet has signed a multi-year deal to become the “Official Sports Betting Partner” of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s four pro sports teams:

  • Maple Leafs (NHL)
  • Raptors (NBA)
  • Argonauts (CFL)
  • FC (MLS)

“This is a historic deal for PointsBet Canada,” said Scott Vanderwel, chief executive officer of PointsBet Canada. “You rarely get the opportunity to partner with an organization that spans across all four professional leagues through the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC and the Toronto Argonauts, and offers year-round entertainment within the sports market in Canada. We are thrilled to be partnering with MLSE on this innovative and exciting relationship.”

“We happily welcome PointsBet Canada as a partner of the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Argos as they enter the Ontario market with a well-established reputation in the sports betting industry,” said Jordan Vader, senior vice president, Global Partnerships, MLSE. “We look forward to utilizing our partnership to provide 19+ fans of our teams with new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sports they love with a trusted operator in PointsBet that prioritizes responsible gaming.”

 

Friday, April 8 – 11:15 a.m.

PokerStars, FanDuel and MLSE team up

PokerStars and FanDuel Sportsbook are partnering with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE).

The deal makes FanDuel the “official sports betting partner” of the company that owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC, Toronto Argonauts and Toronto Marlies.

PokerStars will be an “official gaming partner” of MLSE.

A press release said the deal will, “offer fans and gaming players in Ontario a powerful combination of entertainment through leading sports, poker and casino gaming experiences.

“In addition to the use of MLSE team marks in advertising and marketing, FanDuel Sportsbook, PokerStars Casino and PokerStars will be featured prominently throughout Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors games including rink board and on-court signage. The partnership will also allow FanDuel Sportsbook and PokerStars to collaborate on marketing integrations with all of MLSE’s teams.”

Dale Hooper general manager of FanDuel Canada said: “The Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC are pioneering franchises and major pillars in Canadian sports culture. As we bring FanDuel to Ontario, we want to collaborate with globally recognized enterprises like MLSE to bring unique content experiences to some of Canada’s most dedicated sports fans.”

 

Thursday, April 7 – 3 p.m.

Canadian gold medal sprinter Andre De Grasse signed by Coolbet

Canadian Press reporter Dan Ralph is reporting that Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse has been signed by Coolbet as a brand ambassador. The deal even comes with the title “Ambassador of Cool.”

De Grasse is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the 200m. He is also the first Canadian sprinter to win three medals in a single Olympics (2021 in Tokyo).

He will play a leading role in bringing the Coolbet brand to life in Ontario through advertising and promotions.

“Andre De Grasse is the perfect ambassador for Coolbet,” said Kris Abbott, head of North America for Coolbet, in a release. “Whether he’s settling into the starting blocks in an Olympic final, walking the red carpet, or chasing after his kids, Andre consistently personifies what it is to Stay Cool. As a recently approved licensee here in Ontario, we are excited to build on the internationally recognized Coolbet brand. We know that Ontarians will enjoy our award-winning user experience and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Andre to engage and inspire our customers.”

De Grasse is expected to appear in Coolbet advertising, responsible gaming messaging, and VIP experiences.

 

Thursday, April 7 – 10:50 a.m.

Dan O’Toole signs content deal with BetRivers

Canadian sports broadcater Dan O’Toole has signed an “exclusive brand and content deal” with BetRivers.

The move comes as an extension of the promotional work O’Toole did on behalf of BetRivers during Canadian broadcasts of the Winter Olympics. The prominent TV spots promoted O’Toole’s podcast Boomsies! The weekly show is O’Toole’s reflection on sports and life.

O’Toole’s media career has spanned two decades and includes a long tenure as a television sports anchor on TSN’s SportsCentre. He also spent several years at Fox Sports 1 in Los Angeles, California.

“Joining BetRivers and hosting Boomsies! is a terrific way for me to continue to do what I love and to engage with sports fans,” O’Toole said in a release. “With BetRivers.ca’s live launch in Ontario this week, this is an exciting moment in the evolution of sports betting here in Canada and a great opportunity for me to provide commentary and share my passion for sports with my fellow Canadians, as well as in other markets throughout the U.S. where BetRivers has sportsbooks.”

New episodes of Boomsies! are available each Wednesday on most podcast apps, including a video verion on YouTube featured on the BetRivers network.

Wednesday, April 6 – 5:25 p.m.

NorthStar Bets now open for pre-registration

NorthStar Bets has yet to launch in Ontario, but CEO Michael Moskowitz told PlayOntario that the operator is closer to launch.

“There is tremendous excitement across our team and within our partner ecosystem as we prepare to launch NorthStar Bets. Pre-registration is now open,” Moskowitz said.

No timeframe for launch has been given. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has yet to list the company as being officially registered with it.

A true Canadian player, NorthStar is fronted by Torstar, the company that owns Canada’s second-largest circulation daily newspaper, The Toronto Star. NorthStar has signed a deal with leading operator Kambi Group to provide its sports betting technology. On Feb. 25, the company announced it had officially branded its sports betting operation as NorthStar Bets and strengthened its relationship with The Star to provide “additional betting content, including daily picks and videos of the events, teams and players that matter most to Canadians.”

 

Wednesday, April 6 – 2:35 p.m.

Thoughts from pro gambler Dawn Lupul on Ontario’s online gaming launch

Ontario-based pro gambler Dawn Lupul made such a great contribution to our article on parlay wagering, we decided to reach out and get her take on the Ontario launch, so far.

“There were definitely some issues, especially with bet365,” Lupul said via email. “They had many existing customers who were inconvenienced by the switchover and the new regulations. Many had no idea that fixed-odds horse racing would no longer be available and the new geo-locator had problems. I suspect that some of their customers will look at alternatives, but they will likely gain many new accounts with the robust $250 signing offer.

“It’s not a surprise that there were some bugs, but it seems that business is quickly getting on track. It will serve as a good template for the rest of the provinces as they begin to come on board.

“The level of ad spend will be interesting to watch because these companies know that initial signups are the most valuable. People tend to stick with the one who grabs them first.”

Tuesday, April 5 – 6:30 p.m.

FanDuel Canada GM Dale Hooper proud of responsible gaming ads

FanDuel’s Canada GM Dale Hooper said his proudest moment from the company’s launch in Ontario was the responsible gambling television ads it has run.

“It’s near and dear to my heart,” Hooper told PlayOntario. “Since April the 1st and until today’s Raptors game, all we’ve run is our responsible gaming television ad. That’s the only thing we’ve run.”

“Everybody else is out there doing their thing and we decided to do something different and just start with a message, ‘We care. This is what’s important.’ That ad is fun, it’s engaging. It’s a message people sometimes don’t want to talk about, but we’re really proud of it. It highlights all the tools we have.

“I think that’s our biggest takeaway and I’m really proud of it. All of the other operational stuff, we felt like we had a good day, but we’re really proud of the fact that we are leading with what’s right around responsible gambling.”

 

Tuesday, April 5 – 4:37 p.m.

Rivalry CEO on whether esports will continue to dominate betting through the operator in Ontario

Canadian operator Rivalry has carved out a nice niche taking wagers on esports and embracing the Internet culture. In fact, Rivalry CEO and co-founder Steven Salz told PlayOntario that some 80 percent of bets placed through the site in international markets are on esports.

But will that continue to be the case in Ontario now that Rivalry is finally live in the province where it was founded four years ago? Salz says no and there’s two main reasons:

  • the passion Ontarians have for sports.
  • esport fandom and betting being more in its infancy here.

“My guess is, just given the complexion of that market from a sports fan perspective, that we’ll probably see more like 60/40 or 50/50 sports to esports, just because the maturity of esports betting and esports fandom in these markets is not as far along as it is in sport of our other international markets,” Salz said. “So, if I had to guess, Ontario is probably going to skew a pretty even bets of sports and esports. That’s my gut.”

 

Tuesday, April 5 – 11:58 a.m.

GeoComply time lapse video shows bettor activity in Ontario on Monday night

Just how active were sports bettors in Ontario on Monday night?

GeoComply has a cool time lapse video on Twitter showing a snapshot of activity.

The company has been tasked with ensuring only those physically in Ontario can place wagers with sportsbooks and casinos regulated in the province. The company uses advanced software to detect users’ location.

The video includes some geolocation fails for those in Quebec trying to bet in Ontario.

 

Tuesday, April 5 – 11:42 a.m.

PointsBet’s Patrick Eichner thinks Blue Jays will be huge for Ontario sports bettors

PlayOntario caught up with PointsBet’s senior director of communications Patrick Eichner. One of the things he’s predicting is betting on baseball will be huge this summer.

Eichner points to two main reasons:

  • The Toronto Blue Jays are expected to be among the World Series favourites (currently ranked second behind the Dodgers in most sportsbooks’ futures wagers).
  • Baseball has a 162-game regular season (translation: a lot of betting opportunities) at a time of year that there’s not a lot of major sports competition.

“The Blue Jays do have that national resonance,” Eichner said. “You have a heck of a team, a really young team to be excited about. I think baseball is going to be boon as the (sports betting) industry comes online (in Ontario).”

Eichner said he saw the popularity of baseball as a betting product play out in New Jersey when PointsBet launched in that state. At the time, the nearby New York Yankees were in the American League Championship Series and wagering soared.

“Baseball is one of those sports that’s fairly regional in nature. It depends on if that regional team is doing well,” Eichner said “When the Yankees were in the ALCS we were seeing a lot of money on them.”

 

Tuesday, April 5 – 10:45 a.m.

Buddybet becomes 28th operator registered with AGCO

This morning, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario updated the list of registered gaming operators to include Buddybet.

No word, yet, when Buddybet will launch in Ontario. The company has yet to sign an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario, the final step before being able to take legal bets in the province.

 

Tuesday, April 5 – 9:32 a.m.

NCAA Tournament final: Kansas wins, doesn’t cover, in early less

Well, no time like the first day of the expanded Ontario gambling market for sports bettors to learn about “bad beats.”

That’s probably how Kansas -4 bettors feel after the Jayhawks won Monday night, but didn’t cover in a 72-69 win against North Carolina.

Kansas had a chance to build on their lead late and cover, but Dajuan Harris stepped out of bounds late on a strange play that instead allowed UNC some chances at the buzzer to possibly tie the time.

All and all, it had to just be a stressful experience for this Ontario bettor who would’ve won $3k if Kansas won — if his original future bet on the Jayhawks at bet365 was allowed to stand. Horrible timing there.

Operators did not release Ontario-specific splits, but point-spread handle for the final was mostly on Kansas (reported as 62% at BetRivers, 58% at FanDuel, and 61% at PointsBet).

Those were all losers.

Thankfully for the public, 72% of the moneyline handle at PointsBet was on KU, in addition to 55% at FanDuel and 56% at BetRivers. Those were winners.

Plus, you have to believe the public had a nice night on the ice, as hometown Toronto took down Tampa Bay 6-2 behind three goals from Auston Matthews.

Raptors tonight against Atlanta in the local NBA team’s first game under the province’s larger betting spotlight.

Monday, April 4 – 8:05 p.m.

A picture says a thousand words

How did launch day go for theScore Bet?

This photo says it all:

 

Monday, April 4 – 4:55 p.m.

Wherefore art thou, Caesars?

The app of one of Ontario’s big new sportsbook players is, so far, MIA on launch day.

Caesars Sportsbook is live and taking bets in Ontario. But, so far, only on desktop.

The Caesars app is yet to be available in the iOS App Store. And Ontario bettors discussing launch day on Discord and Twitter are noticing.

We’re checking with Caesars about the timing of an app launch in the province and will update when we hear back.

 

Monday, April 4 – 12:02 p.m.

AGCO: open market helps Ontario government provide “consumer choice, ensuring player protection”

Ontario’s gaming regulator, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, has released a statement on the province’s open iGaming market. It reads:

“Starting today, Ontarians can play on world-class iGaming sites within a safer, fully regulated framework. Today’s milestone achievement helps realize the government of Ontario’s objectives of providing consumer choice, ensuring player protection, and supporting the growth of the legal iGaming market.

“AGCO and iGaming Ontario (iGO) have made tremendous progress over the last year setting a strong foundation to support the sustainable and successful operation of the new igaming market for the benefit of Ontarians.

“One of the key objectives behind Ontario’s new iGaming market is to bring sites Ontarians are already gambling on under regulation so that they can be held to high standards of responsible gaming, player protections and game integrity.

“We’re encouraged to see so much interest from companies looking to enter Ontario’s market and applying to the AGCO and iGO to operate in the province. Though not every operator will be ready to launch their services today, more and more will come online as they become ready. Players will soon be able to play on their preferred sites with the assurance that those sites are being closely monitored for game integrity , player protections and responsible gaming.

“The AGCO will continue to work with operators and gaming-related suppliers who are interested in participating in Ontario’s new iGaming market.”

New player resources

“Players in Ontario can look for the iGO logo on an operator’s site as a sign that it is registered and approved.

“Players can also view the new Player Information section of our website for more information on the benefits of gambling on a regulated site, answers to common questions and other useful resources.

“The AGCO is committed to ensuring that all participants in the new iGaming market are acting with honesty, integrity and in accordance with Ontario’s gaming laws and regulations for the benefit of Ontarians.”

 

Monday, April 4 – 11:30 a.m.

FanDuel and TSN sign multi-year deal

FanDuel announced this morning that it has signed a multi-year deal with sports broadcaster TSN.

In a release, FanDuel said it, “will deliver its global expertise in mobile sportsbook and casino operations across TSN, through original content and innovative digital products. The FanDuel Sportsbook will be the exclusive provider of sports odds across TSN programming to deepen fan engagement and reimagine the way sports betting can be offered alongside sports content.”

The release further said FanDuel will integrate with TSN across platforms, including:

  • in-game broadcasts
  • digital marketing
  • mobile apps
  • co-branding opportunities.

“TSN will highlight a variety of FanDuel’s online gaming formats, notably its Same Game Parlay™ bets, as well as its leading casino platform and free-to-play games.”

 

Monday, April 4 – 10:18 a.m.

Canadian Sarah Robertson of Kambi: “Today’s launch into Canada marks another significant milestone”

New Brunswick native and proud UNB alum Sarah Robertson, the senior vice-president of Kambi, has released a statement about the launch of Ontario’s market:

“Kambi is proud to be up and running, along with our partners, on day one of the regulated market opening in Ontario. Today’s launch into Canada marks another significant milestone in the growth of our company and extends our exceptional track record across North America and worldwide.

“As a Canadian native, I am particularly excited Kambi’s world-class sportsbook, including our market-leading hockey offering and Game Parlay product, is now available in Ontario, one of the largest markets in North America, and we look forward to supporting the launch of additional partners over the coming months.”

 

Monday, April 4 – 10:05 a.m.

Canadian Gaming Association holding launch event at TSX Market Centre

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), in partnership with the Toronto Stock Exchange and TSX Venture Exchange, gathered with representatives from Ontario’s iGaming industry this morning to celebrate the launch of Ontario’s regulated iGaming market at the TSX Market Centre.

Speakers include:

  • Paul Burns, President & CEO, CGA
  • Dave Forestell, Chair, iGaming Ontario
  • Jordan Gnat, CEO, Playmaker Capital
  • John Levy, CEO, theScore Inc.
  • Steven Salz, CEO, Rivalry

Monday, April 4 – 8:12 a.m.

PointsBet Canada CEO commends Ontario government

PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel has released the following statement on the launch of Ontario’s sports betting market:

“Today is a great day for Ontario sports fans! On behalf of the entire PointsBet Canada team, I’d like to share how thrilled we are to see the province’s sports wagering market officially open. Just 50 seconds after 12:00am ET, PointsBet Canada became one of the first private sportsbooks to take a legal wager, and shortly after accepted a $500 two-leg parlay of UNC over Kansas and the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Over the past few months, our team has been scaling and preparing for today. We have quadrupled in size since the beginning of the year and continue to build partnerships with the athletes, teams, and organizations that matter to Canadians and share great alignment with our core brand values. Whether you are a curling fan in Windsor or an Ottawa REDBLACKS season ticket holder in our nation’s capital, PointsBet Canada’s innovative, in-house technology platform will deliver you a fast, safe, dynamic, and tailored experience. We know our customers will appreciate our unmatched in-play betting, great odds, depth of offering, and local Canadian support teams ready to assist when they need it.  We will offer an unrivalled experience to sports bettors and gaming enthusiasts.

“The steps taken by Premier Ford, Attorney General Downey, Minister Bethlenfalvy, and iGaming Ontario are to be commended. The framework in Ontario allows for necessary competition, continued investment, job creation, and importantly helps fund a stronger Ontario through tax revenue.  We look forward to doing our part at PointsBet Canada in proving the model works while inspiring other provinces to consider a legal regulated framework.

“To Ontarians, welcome! To the rest of Canada, we hope to see you soon!”

Monday, April 4 – 8:03 a.m.

What did you expect, eh? First bet through PointsBet is a parlay

PointsBet announced shortly after midnight that its “first big wager” in Ontario was a 2-leg parlay.

Old habits are hard to break, we guess. For 19 years, parlays were the only legal wager you could make in the province. In August of 2021, everything changed when the Criminal Code of Canada was altered to allow single-event wagering.

As for the wager, it was at $500 parlay:

North Carolina Tar Heels Moneyline (+165)
Toronto Maple Leafs Moneyline (+110)

Best of luck to the person that made that wager.

 

Monday, April 4 – 1:07 a.m.

And they’re off!

Ontario online casino and sportsbooks are live and the action is coming fast and furious.

A few notes of note from the night owls:

  • FanDuel has a tasty Raptors Super Boost for Tuesday’s game against Atlanta. All Toronto has to do is score a point and players can double up a $100 max bet. Expect more of these types of early offers to increase your bankroll.
  • Players are reporting solid depositing at FanDuel from PayDirect.
  • The refunding process of old future bets through bet365 was apparently underway overnight.
  • BetMGM is defaulting to decimal odds for some. To switch, go to settings and click “Odds Preference” to choose from US (+275), UK (11/4) or EU (3.75).

Sunday, April 3, 2022 – 3:08 p.m.

Party on, theScore!

theScore Bet’s “Home Opener” launch party is in full swing in downtown Toronto, complete with a countdown timer to the launch of the online sports betting market at midnight.

The party, which continues today and tomorrow, is for fans 19+. It is being held at the Rendezviews at 229 Richmond St. W. in Toronto. Space is limited and the party is open only to those 19 or older. The Rendezviews bills itself as “Toronto’s largest go-to outdoor patio.” Thanks to PlayCanada’s Robyn McNeil for the photo.

Sunday, April 3, 2022 – 11:55 a.m.

Thirteen operators now have the green light from iGaming Ontario

Since our post at 10:15 this morning, iGaming Ontario has added five more operators to its list.

Now 13 operators have signed an operating agreement with iGO according to a list on its website.

The operating agreement is the final step before operators can go live and accept bets as early as Monday, April 4.

Added to the list are:

  • bet365
  • Caesars
  • FanDuel
  • LeoVegas
  • Royal Panda

 

Sunday, April 3, 2022 – 10:15 a.m.

iGaming Ontario gives green light to eight operators

Eight operators have signed an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario according to a list on the iGO website.

The operating agreement is the final step before operators can go live and accept bets as early as Monday, April 4.

On the list is:

  • BetMGM
  • PointsBet
  • BetRivers
  • theScore Bet
  • Rivalry
  • Unibet
  • Coolbet
  • 888

 

Saturday, April 2, 2022 – 4:25 p.m.

Two more operators registered with AGCO, number grows to 27

The number of operators now registered with Ontario’s gaming regulator, has grown to 27.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has added two operators to the list: bwin and party.

bwin is an Austrian online betting company owned by Entain.

party is affiliated with US-based partypoker. That company’s roots go back to 2001.

The other 25 operators registered with the AGCO are: the OLGCaesarsBetRiversBetMGMFanDueltheScore Bet, Rivalry, PointsBet, Bet365, Unibet, 888, Lottogo, Coolbet, Fitzdares, LeoVegas, WSOP, Casigo, Casimba, Dream Vegas, FireVegas, Gate 777, Hello Casino, Jackpot Village, Playzee and Royal Panda.

There’s no word, yet, which of the 27 operators has signed an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario ahead of Monday’s launch. That’s the final step before companies can legally offer online casinos and/or sportsbooks in the province.

 

Friday, April 1, 2022 – 12:30 p.m.

Woodbine CEO Jim Lawson wants horse racing to have chance to compete in sports betting

Jim Lawson, the CEO of the Woodbine Entertainment Group, told PlayOntario the opening of the online sportsbook and casino market will hurt horse racing in the province. Ontario is home to 15 racetracks and the industry supports 25,000 full-time equivalent jobs.

Lawson said he just wants the ability for horse racing to be betting content for operators and the chance to open physical sportsbooks at its teletheatre locations in the province. Neither has happened, yet, but Lawson said he is optimistic one or both may happen in two or three months’ time.

More to come…

Photo by Shutterstock
Dave Briggs Avatar
Written by
Dave Briggs

Before joining PlayOntario, Dave spent more than 25 years as a writer and editor, mainly covering horse racing in Canada. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Western University and was a 2018 inductee into the Communicators' Corner of the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Beyond a deep passion for family and music, Dave has a mostly-tragic, life-long love of Detroit sports teams. He lives in Port Stanley, Ontario with his wife and their beloved Vizsla named California.

View all posts by Dave Briggs