AGCO: More than 86% of Ontario online players participate on regulated sites, two years in

April 4, 2024 8:54 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
April 4, 2024 8:54 PM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports

On Thursday, corks were popping and candles were being lit as the Ontario regulated online gaming and sports-betting market celebrated its two-year anniversary

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To mark the occasion, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, along with iGaming Ontario, released a new IPSOS study conducted in February showing that 86.4% of players in Ontario are now participating in online gaming on regulated sites (over the three months preceding when they were asked). This represents an increase from the 85.3% of participants who reported playing on regulated sites the year before.

The objective in 2022 was to push out the gray market, and that seems to be happening. The AGCO said in a news release Thursday that an estimated 70% of online gambling occurred on unregulated sites before the regulated market was launched.

“This is another milestone in our ongoing work to provide players and businesses with a strong, competitive, and safer online gaming environment that meets consumer expectations,” said Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey in a statement. “We look forward to iGaming Ontario’s continued success as a global innovator, as a job creator that sustained more than 12,000 jobs in its first year of operation, and as a leader in the online gaming space.”

According to Vixio, a global regulatory intelligence company, the Ontario igaming market last year jumped to sixth spot in the world by gross gaming revenue (that includes estimates of the government-owned Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation igaming activity).

Still according to some in the industry, much work is yet to be done.

“One percent improvement in channelization and the revelation of 350 unregulated websites beg the question of what enforcement?” said Amanda Brewer, an igaming-industry consultant. The revelation of that many unregulated sites still having access to the Ontario market is a key frustration for licensed operators, she added.

According to the AGCO release today, the IPSOS study found that 20.1% of those who gambled online over the prior three months did so on a combination of regulated and unregulated sites, while 13.6% did all their betting on unregulated sites.

“In Ontario, regulated sites are held to high standards of game integrity, data security, and player protections, including having significant responsible-gaming safeguards. While it’s encouraging to see most participants are choosing regulated gaming options, those who are not are unfortunately risking far more than their wagers,” said Dr. Karin Schnarr, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar, AGCO, in a statement.

An iGaming Ontario news release today also shed some light on the most popular sports by wagers that Ontario players are betting on.

Ontario’s sports betting market ranks in the Top 5 in North America in total wagers, via 27 licensed operators.

Somewhat surprisingly, basketball is No. 1 by a healthy distance over football at No. 2 – 24% to 15%. Hockey and baseball are next at 11% each, while soccer is at 10%.

Icasino continues to be the largest segment by wagers on licensed operators, about 82% in the market’s second year. Currently, 47 operators offer games in the casino category – which includes slots, live and computer-based table games, and peer-to-peer bingo (more than 5,000 certified games). The biggest table game this year was blackjack, with 27% of the total table-game wagers (combining live and computer-based versions of each game). Roulette was next (9%), then baccarat (8%).

According to the release, the five operators offering online peer-to-peer poker in Ontario have combined to make the province the largest online poker market by gaming revenue in North America (more than $1.5 billion in total wagering this year).

Said PointsBet CEO Scott Vanderwel, “Today marks two years since the launch of Ontario’s sports wagering market and we at PointsBet are proud to have been part of this historic journey. With our commitment to innovation and integrity, we’ve delivered an unparalleled igaming experience to Ontarians, fueled by cutting-edge technology and personalized support that prioritizes responsible gambling best practices.

“Looking ahead, PointsBet remains dedicated to pushing the boundaries of innovation, enhancing the customer experience, and contributing to the continued growth and success of igaming in Ontario, underscored by our dedication to responsible gambling to promote a healthy and sustainable ecosystem.”