Northern Exposure: Ontario’s Two-Year Anniversary Insights

Each week, Canada Sports Betting recaps all the top sports betting and iGaming news in Canada and highlights upcoming events.

Our top stories this week

Event of the week

NCAA Tournament – Final Four

And then there were four.

The NCAA Tournament has lived up to expectations with plenty of wacky betting twists and turns, and now two No. 1 seeds – Purdue and UConn – and a pair of huge underdogs – NC State and Alabama – will do battle on Saturday for the right to play in the National Championship Game.

Purdue, led by Canadian big man Zach Edey who is coming off a massive 40-point, 16-rebound performance in the Elite 8 Round against Tennessee, is a nine-point favourite over No. 11-seeded NC State. UConn, which had the shortest odds to win the tournament outright prior to the event, is a massive 11.5-point favourite over Alabama.

Here are some betting insights on the games courtesy of BetMGM on Thursday morning.

Ontario’s Online Gambling Anniversary

Can you believe it’s been two years since the inception of Ontario‘s regulated igaming market?

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and iGaming Ontario are commemorating the occasion Thursday by providing the public with some additional insights on how the market is performing.

Firstly, a new Ipsos study has found that 86.4% of Ontarians who gambled online over the preceding three months gambled on regulated sites. This represents an increase from the 85.3% of igaming participants who reported playing on regulated sites in a similar study conducted in 2023. However, the study also found that a significant portion of Ontario’s igaming participants continue to wager on unregulated sites as 20.1% of those who had gambled online over the prior three months wagered on a combination of regulated and unregulated sites, while 13.6% did all their betting on unregulated sites. Overall, Ontario’s igaming regulators are quite pleased with this channelization rate and their ability to draw consumers away from illegal and potentially dangerous offshore gambling websites.

In 2022, the Government of Ontario worked with the AGCO and iGaming Ontario to launch an open igaming market that allows eligible private gaming operators, registered with the AGCO and under contract with iGO, to participate in Ontario’s legal gaming market. Today, there are currently 47 registered operators offering 77 regulated sites to Ontarians. 

“Since its launch in April 2022, Ontario’s igaming model has been recognized internationally for championing work to displace the unregulated online gaming market,” said Attorney General Doug Downey in the release. “This made-in-Ontario, regulated market will continue to inspire global innovation, while ensuring a safer landscape for players and businesses alike.”

Secondly, regulators provided a breakdown Thursday of the preferred sports to wager on by Ontarians in the past year.

Basketball remains the most popular sport to wager on, accounting for 24% of all wagers. That number is down slightly from the previous year (29%). It’s also a little surprising that soccer has fallen to 10% of wagers after coming in at 15% the year prior. Baseball wagering is up 3% compared to the last fiscal year.

Regulators also provided a breakdown of the most popular iCasino games in the province:

Blackjack is far and away the preferred iCasino game of Ontarians, accounting for 27% of all wagers in the discipline. Regulators are reporting that the casino category (including slots, live and computer-based table games and peer-to-peer bingo) accounts for roughly 82% of all wagers taken by the regulated market in the second year. It’s important to note that both these sports betting and iCasino insights don’t include data from OLG’s online casino and sports betting products.

Regulators have yet to finalize the final quarter revenue numbers for this fiscal year ending March 31, but the market continues to show promising growth since its inception:

QuarterTotal WagersTotal Gaming RevenueOperatorsActive Player AccountsAverage Monthly Spend
Q1 2022/23$4.07B$162M18492K$113
Q2 2022/23$6.04B$267M24628K$142
Q3 2022/23$11.53B$457M36910K$167
Q4 2022/23$13.9B$526M441.1M$174
Q1 2023/24$14B$545M46920K$197
Q2 2023/24$14.2B$540M47943K$191
Q3 2023/24$17.2B$658M491.2M$186
Q4 2023/24$17.8B$690M491.3M$263
Total since launch:$98.74B$3.845B

“When talking about Ontario’s igaming market, the numbers tell us a lot,” said Heidi Reinhart, iGaming Ontario Board Chair, in a statement. “But what I’m most proud of are the countless ways that our government partners, operators, responsible gambling experts, players and employees have worked together to help us create a world-class market that is Ontario-made for Ontarians.”

Ontario’s revenue projections and data have catapulted the jurisdiction into the top six in the world in gross gaming revenue, according to VIXIO Gambling Compliance.

PointsBet Canada was one of the first operators to go live in Ontario on April 4, 2022, and it issued the following statement Thursday via CEO Scott Vanderwel to Canada Sports Betting on Thursday:

“Today marks two years since the launch of Ontario’s sports wagering market, and we at PointsBet are incredibly 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. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Premier Ford, Attorney General Downey, Minister Bethlenfalvy, and iGaming Ontario for their visionary leadership in continuously implementing a robust and regulated framework. As we celebrate this milestone, we remain dedicated to pushing the boundaries of innovation and helping shape the future of iGaming in Ontario.”

Ontario is currently the only Canadian province to adopt an open igaming model, but the Alberta Government has expressed interest in potentially expanding its gambling options and following Ontario’s lead by embracing private operators. A coalition of private operators and industry suppliers is also lobbying for a regulated igaming market in Quebec, but it’s facing heavy opposition from the provincial government, which is adamant about retaining its monopoly in the local gambling space.