Proline+ and MLSE team up to bring new experiences to Ontario sports fans

January 27, 2023 3:07 PM

Proline+ and MLSE team up to bring new experiences to Ontario sports fans

Photo: Shutterstock
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
January 27, 2023 3:07 PM
  • Mark Keast, CDC Gaming Reports
  • Ontario
  • Sports Betting

The Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG) and Proline+ have announced a multi-year extension to their partnership with Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, in which Proline+ becomes the official sports-betting partner of Real Sports (RS).

Real Sports is the sports bar adjacent to Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto that features one of the city’s largest screens, countless other screens, and a 100-foot bar.

The new relationship kicks off this Sunday with an exclusive fan event at the venue, built around the NFL conference championship games starting at 3 p.m. There will be prizes, the opportunity to meet NFL Alumni players, and a chance to get up close and personal with the real Vince Lombardi Trophy.

But it’s important to note that Real Sports is not a sportsbook. Betting windows and kiosks and continue to be located in Ontario casinos, which the OLG overseas.

This announcement is a “branding and experiential partnership,” OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti said. Those who have accounts with online sportsbooks can bet on their phones anywhere, including RS.

That’s an interesting question to consider as the regulated Ontario market heads into its first full calendar year.

Yesterday’s release of market-performance data for the third quarter (through Dec. 31, 2022) by iGaming Ontario was a telling sign of where the regulated market is heading. According to iGO, total wagers were $11.53 billion, a whopping 91 percent increase over Q2 (July 1-Sept. 30, 2022) and do not include promotional wagers (bonuses).

Total gaming revenue was $457 million, a 71 percent increase over Q2. This figure represents total cash wagers, including rake, tournament, and other fees, for all licensed operators through Dec. 31, minus player winnings from cash wagers, and does not take into account operating costs or other liabilities.

“The quarterly release from iGO [yesterday] demonstrated that Ontario is a strong igaming market,” said Paul Burns, president & CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association. “We are now seeing more of the true picture of the market size, as the latest quarter saw a number of operators enter the market while at the same time AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the provincial regulator) ended the transition period for gray-market operators.

“We always felt it would take three quarters to a year to see the full market potential. Ontario has seen an exceptional level of companies from the gray market enter the new regulated market that, combined with many new operators, has created a very robust marketplace.”

You wonder what the next step in the evolution of this market will be. What about the launch of such sportsbook locations in places as RS, with sportsbook partners like the OLG and Proline? Or in the new rooftop sports bar, lounge, and patio going into the Rogers Centre, surrounding elevated bullpens, for Blue Jays games, that’s currently under construction?

TheScore Bet has a 10-year partnership deal with the Jays. That deal was announced last April and included the planned creation of a branded premium flagship sports bar and restaurant at Rogers Centre. If there’s ever an opportunity to elevate the sports-betting component in that space, the launch of sports betting lounges, theScore Bet will be all over that.

Or what about dedicated sports-betting spaces right in the stands of sports stadiums, similar to the Wynn Field Club at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, with screens and tickers built in, as fans and bettors sit in plush seating with bottle service right off the end zone?

TheScore also has a sponsorship deal with Canlan Sports, a network of privately owned sports complexes, primarily hockey rinks, throughout Canada, where thousands of people play in hockey leagues, for example, each facility with sports bars to hang out with pals after a game. What about turning those into dedicated sports-betting lounges?

Other operators in the province have big plans for pushing the live, in-person, sportsbetting experience, making use of betting terminals and plush seating. Right now, they’re waiting for more direction from AGCO in this area. CDC reached out to AGCO for some clarification on this, with no response yet.

Certainly in a hyper-competitive environment like Ontario, each operator (36 licensed ones currently) are jockeying for an edge when it comes to augmenting the fan experience while they watch games.

Licensing to heighten the live, in-person, sports-betting experience in places like Rogers Centre is something to keep an eye on, which we are sure the good folks at OLG and MLSE will be thinking about when they have their launch event for their expanded relationship at RS this Sunday.