Can Ontario’s Online Gambling Legalisation Be Considered Boom or Bust?

June 21, 2022
Can Ontario’s Online Gambling Legalisation Be Considered Boom or Bust?

Betting Expert Alex Goldstein Comments on the Situation.

Ontario’s legal sports betting market launched on the 4th of April 2022, and the impact has been rather substantial. The legislation was inspired by the passing of the safe and regulated sports betting act, which received royal assent and was implemented on the 27th of August 2021. Ontario has led the way, but the public opinion appears to be split. Betting expert Alex Goldstein from comments on the situation.

The prelude to this new look Ontario sports betting market was shrouded in uncertainty with regard to how legal sports betting would be rolled out. After Bill C-218 received royal assent, the single-game sports betting buzzword started to make its way around the web. Still, many people failed to highlight that this law was geared toward ensuring provinces in Ontario could regulate themselves.

Ontario was the first province to begin setting up a legal framework, and after the passing of the safe and regulated sports betting act, announced that they were looking to launch a legal sports betting market by the end of 2021. By this stage already, onlookers had doubts, but the majority of Ontario residents were very excited by the prospect of having a thriving legal sports betting market.

“It was interesting to see how the different sportsbooks approached the challenge of entering Ontario” commented Goldstein. “We saw a range of different techniques. Bet365 for example, chose to take a more passive approach, while Pointsbet for example made more of a splash, teamed up with the Trailer Park Boys, and announced their entry into Ontario from the rooftops,” added Goldstein.

Goldstein also noted that splash makers Pointsbet, along with big-name American brand BetMGM were hit early with fines for advertising that breached the guidelines set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). This case highlighted one of the big decisions that were taken by the AGCO, the inability to advertise inducements which have a big impact on the attraction of new players. It’s clear from the cases of BetMGM and Pointstbet, that the decision by the AGCO to do this was less than appreciated, causing early friction between operators and regulatory bodies.

“The removal of inducements was a big call. We’ve seen it before in other markets, where it hasn’t had as a big of an impact as one might expect. But in this case, we’ve really seen the AGCO crack down on any parties that advertise inducements. Bookmakers are expected to remove any such content from the advertising, including the content found on affiliates that are marketing their offers” says Goldstein. The removal of inducements is largely seen as a positive by onlookers, but from the point of view of the operators, this was not well received.

“Inducements have largely become a yardstick to measure sportsbooks by. Take a look at any sportsbook comparison website out there. The removal of these offers certainly levels the playing field from the offset, and means that sportsbooks need to take a closer look at the lasting value that they’re able to offer their users. While all the betting sites are playing ball, most are doing so with what feels like a frown.” says Goldstein. Goldstein explains further that removing the advertisement of bonuses and offers is a lot like a gym removing a bargain deal for first time clients. “An offer can get you in the door, but the overall quality of the sports betting product is what will get you to stay in the house.”

Goldstein mentioned another issue that has arisen was the fact that sportsbooks that hold First Nations Licenses (issued by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission) were prevented from operating legally in Ontario. This caused some of the operators operating this license to become somewhat frustrated, as their operations are no longer considered legal in Ontario after the new implementations set out by the AGCO.

What is clear is the financial gain from legalizing sports betting in Ontario will undeniably be felt. Bookmaking money from international sportsbooks, for the first time, will be kept in Canada, but will the early relations between sportsbooks and licensing bodies cause friction that can lead to an eventual bust? It’s too early to tell, but what can be said is that with time, it’ll be clear as to whether gambling legislation in Ontario will be classed as boom or bust.

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