Northern Exposure: Apollo Entertainment Fined By AGCO, PlayAlberta To Launch Revamped Sportsbook

Each week, Canada Sports Betting recaps all the top sports betting and iGaming news in Canada, highlights the event of the week, and takes a look ahead at some of the most intriguing games to bet on over the weekend.

Our top stories this week

Event of the week

FIFA Women’s World Cup – Quarter-Finals

We’re down to the final eight teams in the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the next three days will feature some fascinating matchups.

The action starts with Spain (-124 NorthStar Bets) taking on the Netherlands (+360) at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday. That match will be followed by Japan (+133) vs. Sweden (+225) on Friday at 3:30 a.m. ET. Rounding out the quarter-finals will be Australia (+265) vs. France (+117) and England (-186) vs. Colombia (+600) early on Saturday morning.

England (+250) is now the outright favourite after the USA was stunned by Sweden in the Round of 16.

Canada Sports Betting has been providing comprehensive match day previews for the Women’s World Cup throughout the tournament, so be sure to check in for the duration of the event for some excellent betting tidbits on the matches.

AGCO fines Apollo for subpar RG standards

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has fined Apollo Entertainment Ltd. $100,000 for multiple alleged violations of its responsible gambling requirements, Ontario’s iGaming industry regulator announced Thursday.

Some of the violations include: Failing to conduct required interventions with players who may be experiencing gambling-related harms, failing to implement an adequate voluntary self-exclusion program and responsible gambling tools, and failing to ensure their employees understand the importance of responsible gambling which also includes assisting problematic players.

The AGCO specifically cites an instance where a player accumulated $2 million in losses in under four months without receiving intervention from the operator.

Apollo Entertainment has the right to appeal the fines to the Licence Appeal Tribunal, and the AGCO says the operator has been receptive to its feedback and is already making changes to ensure future compliance.

“The AGCO’s goal is to ensure Ontarians can enjoy online gambling on sites that operate fairly, responsibly and provide important player protections,” said AGCO CEO and Registrar Tom Mungham, in a press release. “All registered operators have an obligation to proactively monitor patron play for signs of high-risk gambling, and must take appropriate actions to intervene and reduce the potential for gambling-related harm.”

Apollo Entertainment has seven iCasino sites live in Ontario: Golden Tiger, Grand Mondial, Luxury Casino, Captain Cooks Casino, Casino Classic, Yukon Gold Casino, and Zodiac Casino.

PlayAlberta to revamp sportsbook

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis is revamping its sportsbook ahead of the upcoming NHL, NBA, and NFL seasons.

PlayAlberta’s sportsbook will undergo major upgrades this month as a result of a new long-term partnership with BtoBet. AGLC says some of the new features that will be offered via the online sportsbook will include player props for all major North American leagues (NFL, NHL, MLB and NBA), single-game parlays, additional markets and leagues, additional outright bets, and new promotional options such as boosted odds and parlay multipliers.

“Our team at AGLC continues to find ways to improve all aspects of Partnering with BtoBet expands the sports betting options for users on Alberta’s only legal, gambling website,” said AGLC Vice President of Gaming Dan Keene in a press release.

As a result of the improvements, sports bettors in Alberta can expect a service interruption between Aug. 12-14. However, they’ll still be able to access the PlayAlberta platform for iCasino and personal account information.

Alberta had initially planned to allow two private operators to provide retail sports betting with possible mobile extensions in the province, but those plans have stalled. In the meantime, many sports bettors in Alberta continue to wager with grey market operators.

In 2022-23, $1.5 billion in net gaming income was generated for the province’s general revenue fund from all provincial gaming activities, according to AGLC.

Barstool Sportsbook to rebrand as ESPN Bet

There was some massive sports betting news from south of the border this week.

PENN Entertainment will rebrand its Barstool Sportsbook and launch ESPN Bet in 16 U.S. states this fall after securing the exclusive rights to the ESPN Bet trademark for 10 years, with the possibility of an extension for another 10 years.

PENN, which purchased Ontario-based theScore in 2021 for $2 billion, will make $1.5 billion in cash payments to ESPN over the 10-year term and grant ESPN roughly $500 million of warrants to purchase approximately 31.8 million PENN shares.

The new ESPN Bet platform will feature theScore’s tech stack, but PENN CEO Jay Snowden said during an earnings call this week that theScore Bet will continue to operate, as usual, in Ontario:

“This is not a typical media sportsbook commercial agreement. This is an exclusive and comprehensive alliance that will redefine the sports betting landscape with a highly aligned partner that long term, like us, wants to ESPN Bet at the top. We have seen firsthand the power of integrating media with betting from our experience with theScore Bet in Ontario, despite operating in one of the most competitive jurisdictions in North America with over 70 operators, many of whom competed in that market for years and years prior to full utilization when the market was grey.

We have been able to achieve sustained double-digit market share in both online sports betting and online casino in the province by leading with Ontario’s top digital sports media brand, theScore, and utilizing our best-in-class technology, which has been built from the ground up with the North American markets and comprehensive media integration, not only in mind but as top priorities.

This is a proven playbook and will be effective here in the United States as well. Between ESPN’s portfolio of premier sports rights, massive social media following, deep fantasy database and best-in-class support media app, we have the opportunity to dramatically transform the way fans engage with sports content and betting here in the U.S. markets.”

ESPN reportedly also held talks with Caesars and DraftKings about a potential sports betting deal, sending stock prices for the two operators into a frenzy last year.

PENN also revealed that it has sold the Barstool brand back to founder David Portnoy.