Northern Exposure: BetMGM’s Business Update, Momentum In Alberta’s Igaming Pursuit?

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

Super Bowl LVIII – Sunday, Feb. 11

We’re just a few days away from Super Bowl LVIII between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs!

Canada Sports Betting has been busy handicapping the event (see links above) over the past several days, and we’ll continue to have more content to help you make some informed wagers leading up to kickoff on Sunday evening.

On Wednesday morning, theScore Bet, which operates solely in the regulated igaming market in Ontario, provided CSB with the following Super Bowl betting insights:

  • 66.6% of bets on the spread are on Kansas City (currently +1.5 points).
  • 71% of the bets on the total are on the over (currently 47.5 points).

Some of the most popular prop bets (by number of bets):

  1. Travis Kelce to score a touchdown.
  2. Christian McCaffrey to score a touchdown.
  3. Brock Purdy over 0.5 interceptions.
  4. Deebo Samuel to score a touchdown.
  5. Patrick Mahomes over 1.5 passing touchdowns.

Novelty prop markets involving Taylor Swift and several Super Bowl specials are also being offered at theScore Bet in addition to traditional betting markets.

Stay tuned for more great Super Bowl LVIII content at CSB throughout the week!

BetMGM provides business update

BetMGM, which is jointly owned by Entain and MGM Resorts International, released a business update relating to its 2023 financials on Thursday morning.

Entain said net revenue from operations at BetMGM, a sports betting and igaming operator, grew 36% year over year to $1.96 billion (USD). The company was EBITDA positive in the second half of 2023 with an expected FY 2023 EBITDA loss of approximately $67 million.

BetMGM, which is live in 28 North American gaming jurisdictions, also reported that it has 14% market share in sports betting and igaming markets across its U.S. jurisdictions, and a solid 22% market share in Ontario. The operator launched in Puerto Rico, Ohio, Massachusetts and Kentucky in 2023.

“Our performance in 2023 demonstrates our commitment to delivering on our promises,” said BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt in a press release. “We were able to achieve strong organic growth, while executing against key strategic initiatives that lay the foundation for 2024 and beyond. The attainment of EBITDA profitability over the last three quarters of 2023 validates the effectiveness of our business model and provides the basis from which to invest further in expanding our sports offering through the integration of Angstrom and leveraging our largely untapped Las Vegas omni-channel advantages. With this comprehensive roadmap in place, we can focus on driving accelerated player acquisition and retention and strengthening our current market position. This clear strategic direction underpins our confidence in achieving our targets and building long-term, sustainable value for shareholders.”

With the Super Bowl just days away, BetMGM has also rolled out its latest ad featuring Tom Brady, Vince Vaughn, and Wayne Gretzky.

Momentum in Alberta?

London, England, hosted a major gaming and igaming trade show (ICE London) earlier this week and several key industry stakeholders from Canada attended and participated in a roundtable.

Canadian Gaming Association President Paul Burns, Executive Director of iGaming Ontario Martha Otton, Rush Street Interactive’s Managing Director of Canada Bruce Caughill, Senior VP of Compliance for GeoComply Lindsay Slader, and Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey all participated in the roundtable on Tuesday, which explored the successful launch of Ontario’s regulated igaming market and the economic possibilites that exist elsewhere across the country.

It was also interesting to see that Dale Nally, the Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction, was also in attendance. He publicly announced via his X/Twitter account that he “engaged in insightful discussions” with Downey, suggesting that there could be some momentum towards Alberta finally implementing a regulated igaming market, similar to Ontario’s model.

Premier of Alberta Danielle Smith retweeted Nally’s post and she visited Toronto earlier this month to meet with Ontario Premier Doug Ford and to participate in an investor roundtable.

A source recently told CSB that a regulated igaming model in Alberta “is going to happen” but there’s still no timetable for a potential launch, or any indication of a legal framework being formally established at this time. It’s clear, though, that government officials are conducting their due diligence on the topic and picking the brains of those responsible for the creation of Ontario’s igaming market.

The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission announced in December 2021 that it was planning to allow two private operators to run sports betting, with possible mobile extensions, at major professional sports venues across the province — but the process fell apart when the government agency put out its request for proposals.

Paysafe’s study

A recent study conducted by Paysafe, a multinational online payments company that offers payment processing, digital wallet, and online cash solutions to businesses and consumers, has found that when selecting a sportsbook, players prioritize their favourite payment methods’ availability (26%) and seamless deposits (26%) over every factor except brand trust, odds, and promotions.

The research also found that streamlined payouts was players’ top factor when choosing a sportsbook (prioritized by 37%). They consider this more important than brand trust (34%), odds (29%), promotions (26%), user experience (17%), sports markets (15%), and sponsorships (10%).

The study, titled “All The Ways Players Pay” surveyed 3,000 sports bettors in six U.S. states (Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania), Ontario, the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy, in December 2023.

Here are some interesting findings from the study regarding the habits of Ontario sports bettors:

  • 25% of Ontarians had concerns about sharing their financial information with online operators for deposits. The average was 20% across other jurisdictions
  • The study asked Ontarians how many sports bets they’re currently making: 9% none in the last six months, 18% less than one per month, 19% once per month, 22% a few times a month, 17% 1-2 per week, 6% 3-4 per week, 5% 5-7 per week, 4% more than seven per week.
  • 50% of Ontarians reported having a “preferred online sportsbook” and they only average 1.3 accounts per user, slightly lower than the 1.54 sportsbook account average for the other jurisdictions in the study.
  • How are Ontarians depositing into their sportsbook accounts? 42% reported using a debit card, 26% a digital wallet (Skrill, PayPal), 26% mobile wallet (Google Pay, etc.), 30% credit card, 26% direct bank transfer, 15% ecash, 17% Interac e-transfer
  • Ontarians said quick and easy payouts (39%) and a brand they trust (39%) were the most important factors when it comes to choosing a sportsbook. Nearly 50% of Ontarians also reported that quick and easy withdrawals were also an important factor when deciding which sports betting account to place a wager with.
  • When asked if they’re currently happy with their payments experience at their online sportsbook, only 10% of Ontarians reported dissatisfaction at some level.

Although Paysafe’s study was intended to provide insights specifically on player payment habits, desires, and tendencies, it can also tell us a few things about Ontario’s market.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that Ontarians appear to be gambling cautiously and responsibly. A very small percentage of Ontarians (4%) appear to be placing an average of one sports bet per day. And although we don’t have data from this study on the amount of money people are gambling, or average bet size, it’s a good sign that the majority of players (46%) are placing one bet or less per month and playing responsibly. It’s important to note, though, that the study doesn’t reveal the sample size of Ontario participants.

Another takeaway is that Canadians need to expand their horizons and begin to open multiple sports betting accounts to line shop. With Ontarians, on average, having just 1.3 sports betting accounts, they’re clearly not getting the best odds on the wagers they do place and they’re not taking advantage of any promotional offers being offered by new sportsbooks.

Here’s the entire study if you want to dive into the specifics:

Loto-Québec issues warning

Loto-Québec, a crown corporation responsible for operating and developing Québec’s casinos, gaming halls and online casino, has issued a warning about fake online gaming sites ahead of the Super Bowl.

The agency told Le Soleil this week that it has confirmed several fraudulent pages using the Loto-Québec casinos and gaming halls in their advertisements on Facebook.

“We are aware of this practice. Several pages have also been closed thanks to our interventions with Meta in recent months and we continue to systematically report each of the pages that we capture,” Loto-Québec spokesperson Renaud Dugas told Le Soleil. “As the Super Bowl approaches, it is important to remember that in Quebec, there is no ambiguity: if it is not Loto-Québec, it is not legal.”

Loto-Québec, which is working with the Québec City Police Service on the issue, is the only legal sports betting and iCasino site in the province, although a coalition of eight online gambling operators and suppliers is advocating for a regulated market in the province.

Police are advising the public to be vigilant in checking the legitimacy of the advertisements and to not click links unless they are certain of the source by manually entering the web address into a search bar.