Interest in the gaming market in Canada’s largest province, Ontario, has been “significant,” said Paul Burns, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA). Beginning on Monday, April 4th, there will be 16 commercial online sports betting and iGaming operators: Annexio’s Lottogo, BetMGM, GAN’s Coolbet, FanDuel, Fitzdares, bet365, LeoVegas, Caesars’ WSOP, Ontario Lottery & Gaming (OLG), PointsBet, Rivalry, LeoVegas’ Royal Panda, Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers, Penn National Gaming’s theScore Bet, Kindred Group’s Unibet (this company will be up and running on April 11th), and 888. In addition to downloading Ontario sports betting apps, users will be able to also download apps to bet on casino games such as poker and slots. This will make the province the sixth jurisdiction in Canada and the U.S. to legalize and regulate both online casino gaming and online sports betting, joining New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Michigan, West Virginia, and Connecticut in the United States.
In these markets, online casino has been way much more than online sportsbook in terms of revenue. According to a recent analysis by PlayCanada.com, online casino betting drove 153% more operator revenue and 339% more in tax revenue than sports betting last year. Wagering in digital casinos in 2021 produced USD 3.8 billion in gross operator revenue against USD 1.5 billion in online sports betting. The comparison is even bigger when considering revenue of state and local taxes: USD 976.8 million for online casinos versus USD 222.4 million of sportsbooks. This trend could be similar in Ontario, analysts believe.
Sports betting has been legal in Canada since 1985, but only through each province’s lottery system, where parley bets and pari-mutual gambling were allowed. In August 2020, Canadian provinces were authorized to offer single-event sports betting and to license commercial, non-governmental gaming operators. In Ontario, the launch date was set for April 4th. “It’s a bright future right now after a very dark couple of years for our industry. We are on the cusp of significant change from the laws on sports betting to creating a regulated iGaming market in Ontario,” stated Burns.
According to VIXIO GamblingCompliance forecasts, the Ontario market will be a lucrative one. Online gambling could generate a total gross revenue of C$989 million (US$795 million) in its first year, before growing to C$1.86 billion (US$1.5 billion) by 2026. Depending on future legislative developments to regulate online casino games in further U.S. states, Ontario is set to be one of the largest online gambling markets in North America by 2025, alongside Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan and potentially Illinois.