Ontario has created the potential for one of the most dynamic igaming markets in North America with a one-of-a-kind model, according to a panel discussion on the topic at the Global Gaming Expo.
Numbers released Wednesday show that between July 1 and Sept. 30, total wagers reached CAD$6 billion (US$4.3 billion), an increase from $4 billion in the previous quarter. Igaming revenue has gone up more than 60% from the first quarter to $267 million.
Ontario online gambling accounted for 24 operators on 42 gaming websites handling 628,000 active player accounts; one more operator was added this week. The average monthly spend was CAD$142 during this past quarter.
Ontario, which launched its igaming marketplace on April 4 with 12 operators, doesn’t cap the number of sites and has a full range of products.
Ontario’s market is a stand-alone model with restrictions on advertising, bonuses, and inducements as it phases out a gray market on Oct. 31. That makes brand experience a more important factor than money.
Companies like Penn Entertainment have noted this week that Ontario is the number-one online market for both handle and revenue and that the end of the gray market will improve spend-per-capita trends that have lagged in the U.S.
“The Ontario igaming market has been taking North America by storm,” said Paul Burns, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association in opening the panel discussion that featured Martha Otton, the executive director at iGaming Ontario. “A very successful launch has been a lot of work in a very short time period.”
Otton said she’s met with many of the operators at G2E and that their success has been the success of iGaming Ontario.
“We’re able to see all the cancelation that’s coming across the province and that puts the government of Ontario in a very good position to understand the market in ways we never have in the past.”
Otton said she gets a lot of questions about how large the market will be and she mentioned the “tremendous amount of interest” in the Ontario market. She also said they had conversations with jurisdictions in Denmark and New Jersey before going with its own unique model.
“When we talk about igaming in Ontario, we talk about the whole thing,” Otton said. “It includes casino games, sports betting, even esports. We’re allowing operators to offer a very broad market. I’m surprised at the interest in the market. It’s larger than we ever anticipated it would be.”
Bruce Caughill, Managing Director Canada for Rush Street Interactive, said iGaming Ontario has been quite an achievement. The model is flexible and business friendly and some great decisions were made that are beneficial.
“Allowing live table games in studios makes it more beneficial to those providers to make those games available, so in Ontario we see more activity on that front,” Caughill said. “Having esports is a nod to what the future looks like and Ontario made those allowances. Of course, some required restrictions are issues with any model, but as an operator, generally speaking, the openness, collaboration, and flexibility-based decisions make this an attractive place to do business. Obviously, as the numbers are proving, there’s a significant demand for the product like ours and others. It’s in its early days, but it’s quite promising.”
Danielle Bush, senior counsel and co-chair of the gaming practice at McCarthy Tetrault LLP, one of Canada’s largest law firms, said that during the last year, they received a large number of calls from Europe and Australia, wanting to know what it was going to look like and how much it would cost.
“Unlike in a land-based situation, the online-gaming industry is global,” Bush said. “Very large online operators have been taking players from Canada for decades and in order to have those companies choose to come in and be regulated, that really is the compelling story.”
The tax rate is seven years at 20% and that was maintained despite pushback from political sectors trying to bump it up, Bush said.
“The industry said that was the magic number, and you can’t go over that, and it’s what it ended up being, which was great,” Bush said. “The second factor was no tethering. They didn’t have to come in with a partner in the land-based industry. Given the few casinos in the province, that would have kept the market very small. The fact that there’s no cap has been huge as well.”