Ontarians can now finally enjoy a retail sports betting experience.
Last Friday, Great Canadian Entertainment, which operates 25 gaming, entertainment, and hospitality destinations across Canada, announced it’s now accepting in-person retail sports wagers at 10 of its Ontario casinos.
Four of its 12 Ontario casinos: Great Blue Heron Casino & Hotel, Pickering Casino Resort, Elements Casino Brantford, and Shorelines Casino Belleville, have launched dedicated sportsbook lounges, where patrons can watch live games, enjoy food and beverage options, and place sports wagers at designated kiosks.
Six other GCE locations, including Casino Woodbine, Shorelines Casino Peterborough, Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands, Elements Casino Mohawk, Elements Casino Grand River, and Elements Casino Flamboro now feature sportsbook kiosks within existing gaming areas.
“We remain laser-focused on enhancing the overall experience for our guests at our gaming and entertainment destinations, and the launch of sports betting at our Ontario properties is another demonstration of these efforts,” said Tony Rodio, CEO of Great Canadian Entertainment, in an email release. “These onsite additions reflect Great Canadian’s commitment to investing in our facilities and the communities where we operate, as well as creating new jobs and additional revenue that will support local municipalities in Ontario.”
Earlier on Friday, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation sent out a press release announcing it had reached an agreement on compliance with the Ontario government to pave the way for the launch of retail sportsbooks.
Several casino operators in Ontario had been hiring for various sportsbooks roles over the past few months, which indicated OLG and the provincial government were getting close to establishing the legal framework for retail sports betting. OLG owns and manages casinos in Ontario, but many private operators, such as GCE, manage the day-to-day operations of the venues.
“I’d like to congratulate OLG for partnering with Ontario’s gaming operators to bring sportsbooks to casinos,” said Paul Burns, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, a national trade association that represents leading operators and suppliers in Canada’s gaming, sports betting, esports, and lottery industries, in the release. “This ongoing collaboration will result in new and expanded options for sports betting — including some first-of-their-kind sportsbooks in Canada — which will attract more people to visit Ontario’s casinos and encourage continued growth across the industry.”
In Ontario, there are five major casino providers: Gateway Casinos, Fallsview Casino Resort, Caesars Windsor, Hard Rock Ottawa, and GCE.
In an email to canadasportsbetting.ca, Caesars Windsor communications staff revealed an announcement will be made Tuesday regarding its timeline for a land-based sportsbook. Caesars is rumoured to be planning an expansion to its Legends Sports Bar to accommodate a first-class sportsbook, but those plans have not been confirmed at this point.
Gateway Casinos, Fallsview Casino Resort, and Hard Rock Ottawa have not yet responded to inquiries regarding their respective retail sportsbook plans.
Kambi providing sportsbook solutions
Earlier this month, Kambi Group signed a multiyear deal with GCE to provide its sports betting solutions and betting kiosks at 10 of its Ontario locations.
In September, Kambi Group announced it would be expanding its online gambling partnership with Mohegan Gaming to include a retail sports betting platform. A total of 36 sports betting kiosks will be installed across the Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara properties, and there are plans to convert Casino Niagara’s sports bar into a retail sportsbook.
Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara are both owned by OLG. Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment, a developer and operator of entertainment resorts in the U.S., Canada, and South Korea, has managed the day-to-day operations of the two major Niagara Falls casinos since 2019.
Mohegan has been busy hiring for various sportsbook roles over the past few months at its Niagara locations and selected Greg Yott, who previously served as director of cage & coin for the past 26 years at Niagara Casinos, as its director for the new sportsbook operations.
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment has not yet released an official launch date for its new sportsbook.
Retail sportsbooks complete the puzzle
The launch of retail sports betting in Ontario comes just over six months after the launch of the province’s regulated iGaming and online sports betting market on April 4.
There are now 59 iGaming sites live in the province and provincial regulators have stated that up to 70 operators could be doing business in Ontario by the end of the year.
Gamblers in Ontario wagered more than $6 billion and the online market produced $267 million in total gaming revenue — from iCasino, online poker, and online sports betting — according to the Fiscal Year Q2 report released by iGaming Ontario for the period of July 1-Sept. 30.
The $6.04 billion in total handle does not include promotional wagers, and the total gaming revenue of $267 million includes rake fees, tournament fees, and other fees across 24 total operators and 42 active gaming websites. OLG’s gambling revenue from its online casino offerings and its online sportsbook, PROLINE +, was not included in the report.
The regulator also reported that there were 628,000 active player accounts over the three-month period with an average monthly spend of $142 per user.
Revenue numbers are expected to increase substantially in Q3 as more operators join the market and their online gambling sites go live. All of the big four major professional sports leagues — NHL, NBA, MLB, and NFL — will overlap during the fall months, and the FIFA World Cup will kick off later this month through December. The betting interest in these sporting events should reveal the true strength of Ontario’s online market, which is expected to be one of the largest iGaming jurisdictions in all of North America once it matures.
Online sports bettors in Ontario have a plethora of major sportsbooks to choose from including: bet365, BetVictor, Sports Interaction, Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers), NorthStar Bets, BetMGM, Caesars, ComeOn!, and 888Sport, among others.