Ontario reports $3bn handle in initial iGaming report

main__photo

Ontario recorded more than $3bn in total wagers in its first three months of regulated commercial iGaming, online sports betting and digital real money poker, according to a report released Tuesday.

The $3bn wagered, roughly $4bn Canadian, covered all wagers placed between the province’s April 4 commercial launch date through June 30. It did not include free bets or other promotions.

This generated nearly $124m US ($162m Canadian) in total gaming revenue, according to iGaming Ontario. This included total cash wagers, including rake fees, tournament fees and other fees, across all live operators from April 4 to June 30, 2022, minus player winnings, and does not take into account operating costs or other liabilities.

The report showed nearly 500,000 separate accounts, not individual players, were created during the first three months of legal commercial iGaming. The average monthly spend per account was roughly $86 ($113 Canadian).

There were 31 regulated commercial gaming sites live during the reporting period across 18 separate operators. This included companies such as Caesars, FanDuel and BetMGM, which operated both online sportsbooks and iCasinos.

“Our aim is to be the best gaming jurisdiction in the world and these positive results are an early sign that we’re on our way,” said iGaming Ontario board chair Dave Forestell in a statement. “With a competitive revenue share rate and low barriers to entry, Ontario is an attractive iGaming market with a strong player base.”

The much-anticipated report comes nearly five months after Ontario launched regulated commercial online sports betting and casino gaming. With nearly 15 million residents, it is the most-populated legal iCasino market in either the US or Canada, and the second-most populated online sports betting jurisdiction after New York.

Revenue breakdowns by game type were not included in the report but like in US jurisdictions with multiple gaming types, online casino offerings such as slots and table games were expected to make up the bulk of money wagered. Sports betting was almost assuredly the second-highest grossing category, with real money poker a distant third.

The report also did not include an individual operator breakdown. Industry observers have been closely watching Ontario to see how leading US operators, as well as so-called “grey” market companies that took bets before commercial gaming licensing, would fare in such a large, competitive market.

iGaming Ontario board chair Dave Forestell: “Our aim is to be the best gaming jurisdiction in the world and these positive results are an early sign that we’re on our way.”

European gaming giant bet365 is projected to be one of, if not the Ontario market share leader by handle and gross gaming revenue. The company has operated in the province for years and is one of the market leaders in Europe.

TheScore Bet, the digital gaming arm of the theScore sports media company, is also expected to be a market leader. Unlike bet365 or other “grey” operators, theScore did not accept bets in Ontario before the commercial launch earlier this year. The Toronto-based operator has relied on its reputation as a leading Canadian sports media platform to attract gaming customers.

Acquired by US-based Penn Entertainment for $2b, theScore is the company’s Canada-facing gaming platform. Penn shuttered theScore sportsbook in the US to instead cater its American offerings under the company’s Barstool Sportsbook brand.

These operators, as well as more than two-dozen others that have launched since April 4, have created a crowded marketplace that has led many US market share leaders to taper their expectations. FanDuel, BetMGM and Caesars have all been atypically bearish on their place in Ontario, projecting market share would be less than half of what it is in the US.

DraftKings, which along with the aforementioned US companies, combine to make up more than 80% of US market share by handle, didn’t launch until several months after the go-live date. Typically one of the most bullish sportsbooks on its outlook, DraftKings is projecting a significantly diminished market share in Ontario.

IGaming Ontario said in Tuesday’s report that future releases would come quarterly and include metrics on gaming product segments, player protections, player demographics and the economic impact of the iGaming industry. It remains to be seen if iGaming Ontario, an organization that worked with Ontario officials to establish the commercial gaming market, or the provincial government will release individual operator data.

Almost all US jurisdictions with some form of legal online sports betting or casino gaming release monthly revenue reports. Though not all states include individual operator breakdowns, each include at least handle, revenue and taxes.

Ontario’s 2022 commercial gaming market launch came after years of a grey market where companies would take bets but weren’t licensed to do so by the Canadian government or its provinces. After years of debate, Canada’s Parliament changed its laws in 2021, allowing each province to regulate online gaming platforms if it chose to do so.

British Columbia and Alberta are among the likeliest provinces to follow Ontario’s lead and launch commercial gaming, according to Canadian gaming officials. Canadian provinces have offered sports betting options through government-run lotteries, but these are projected to generate a fraction of the overall handle of the commercial market.

Unlike in the US, where offshore operators aren’t allowed to be licensed in any jurisdiction, Ontario has welcomed the former grey operators. With more than 30 sites live, Ontario has the most regulated online sports betting or iGaming options of any jurisdiction in North America.

About the author

photo
Ryan Butler

Ryan is a veteran sports betting and iGaming regulation and breaking news journalist based in the US. A two-time Associated Press Sports Editors award winner, he has reported on sports and politics since 2012. He has covered the gaming industry since 2018. Ryan graduated from the University of Florida with a major in Journalism and a minor in Sport Management.

Related Stories