Northern Exposure: Entain’s CEO Steps Down, Betano To Abandon Grey Market Operations In Canada

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 – UFC 296

The final UFC pay-per-view event of the year will go down at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night.

The main card will feature five bouts, including a pair of title fights.

Leon Edwards (-160, bet365) vs. Colby Covington (+130) will headline the card as Edwards puts his welterweight title on the line. Alexandre Pantoja (-188) will also be putting his flyweight title on the line against Brandon Royval (+162).

Be sure to check back with Canada Sports Betting on Saturday for a full betting preview of the event.

Entain CEO steps down

Entain CEO Jette Nygaard-Andersen announced Wednesday she is stepping down from her role with the international sports betting and gambling company, effective immediately.

She’ll be replaced in the interim by non-executive director Stella David.

The news comes just a week after Entain, the parent company of brands like BetMGM, Ladbrokes, and Sports Interaction, among others, agreed to pay a £615 million settlement to resolve an investigation into potential bribery offences at its former Turkish business.

“The past three years have been rewarding and challenging in equal measure,” Nygaard-Andersen said in a press release. “The resolution of the HMRC investigation into the legacy business, which was sold by a former management team in 2017, offers a clean inflection point for me and for Entain. The Group is now safe, stable and sustainable and I believe that this is the right time to move on to other business and career opportunities.”

Entain’s shares dropped 37% during Nygaard-Andersen’s tenure despite a massive gambling expansion throughout the United States.

BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt recently shared during a business update that BetMGM is thriving in Ontario, commanding 22% market share across online sports betting and igaming verticals.

Betano exiting the majority of Canadian markets

Kaizen Gaming’s Betano brand will be shuttering its Canadian grey market operations outside of Ontario starting Dec. 18, the operator announced on its website this week.

As of Dec. 18, customers residing outside of Ontario will not be able to make any deposits, place sports bets, or play online casino games. Any existing sports bets will be voided by Dec. 31 and the stake will be returned to the customer.

The operator is asking all customers to withdraw their funds by Jan. 31, 2024.

A customer service representative confirmed that Betano will still be operating, as usual, in Ontario, where the brand is licensed with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and iGaming Ontario.

This executive decision has been made to align Kaizen Gaming with only regulated markets, according to a source.

Kaizen Gaming, based in Greece, currently sponsors, through its brands Betano and Stoiximan, some of Europe’s and Latin America’s top football teams, including FC Porto, Sporting CP and SL Benfica in Portugal, Olympiacos FC, Panathinaikos FC and PAOK FC in Greece, as well as Atletico Mineiro and Fluminense in Brazil, among others. Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo is also a brand ambassador.

Betano is a popular brand with soccer bettors and it’s also known for its comprehensive and elaborate iCasino offerings.

NorthStar Bets’ new handicapper

Legendary hockey coach and broadcaster Don Cherry is the newest hockey handicapper for NorthStar Bets.

NorthStar Bets says he’ll be sharing his ‘Cherry’s Picks’ for select NHL games throughout the season. Bettors who are interested in Don’s NHL betting angles can find them on the operator’s website under sports betting insights. He’s also been sharing his picks on Twitter/X.

Cherry, who was fired from his role as a hockey broadcaster with Sportsnet’s Coach’s Corner in 2019 for his insensitive comments regarding Canadian immigrants, is also operating The Don Cherry’s Grapevine Podcast.

NorthStar Bets is also the official sponsor of CSB’s Puck Portfolio Podcast, featuring former Hockey Night In Canada betting analyst Andy MacNeil, who in our biased opinion, takes a much more analytical and methodical approach to his NHL handicapping than Cherry. Bettors can join Andy live Monday-Friday for his picks and analysis at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Gambling reform in Manitoba?

The provincial NDP government in Manitoba is considering lifting a ban on the expansion of gambling, according to a report from the CBC this week.

In 2018, the Progressive Conservative provincial government “paused” the expansion of the gaming industry across the province until a thorough review of the sector was completed.

Now, a mandate letter from Glen Simard, the minister responsible for liquor and lotteries in the province, has asked Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Board Chair Jeff Traegar to conduct a review of the gambling sector, specifically “the approach to online gaming to ensure it remains relevant to Manitobans.”

According to the CBC report, the government plans to lift the “pause” gradually, and that could mean the installation of more VLTs across the province in the future. Simard also wants to promote the province’s only legal gambling platform, PlayNow (via the British Columbia Lottery Corporation), and ensure Manitobans understand the differences between wagering with the Crown Corporation’s platform vs. grey market operators. Profits from the PlayNow platform are reinvested into provincial programs.

It doesn’t appear as though the Manitoba government is even close to ready to adopt an open igaming model, like Ontario, featuring private operators. However, the fact that it’s exploring a potential gambling expansion via its PlayNow offerings is a positive development for local bettors.

With an estimated population of only 1.5 million, it’s also questionable whether or not private operators would even want to invest to set up shop in the province, should the government explore the possibility of an open igaming market.