Ontario’s Huge New iGaming Market
Until very recently, Canada had a weird grey approach to online betting that unwittingly encouraged players to visit overseas casinos and opt for overseas sportsbooks (where single-event sports betting was possible). Now, though, the country is taking a more modern approach and it is the province of Ontario that is leading the way.
Online Casinos in Canada
Betting online, including sports betting at new Ontario sites and enjoying the best online casino Canada has to offer, has never been more popular. There are plenty of top sites that are gladly accepting Canadian players and offering a fantastic collection of great games from leading casino software developers such as Microgaming, augmented by substantial welcome bonuses for newly registered players and recurring promotions for existing players. Such sites nowadays are designed to be fully mobile compatible, so whether you prefer to play on the go with an iOS or Android mobile device or have a gaming session on a desktop, the top Canadian online casinos have got you covered.
Ontario Opens up to iGaming
Until very recently, Canada has had a slightly odd attitude towards gambling online. Even though betting locations in the real world are plentiful, including racecourses, brick-and-mortar casinos, and places, Canada previously had a more stringent approach to regulating online casinos and sportsbooks. However, it still permitted players to access overseas betting sites, which simply moved the revenue offshore.
Thankfully, Canada in general and Ontario in particular (regulation of betting is determined at the provincial level in the country) have started to adopt a more sensible approach towards betting, one that helps keep bettors safe by deterring black market wagers and retains revenues in the country. This began by making single-event sports betting legal, ending the need for multiple stages in a single bet to come off for it to be profitable. Obviously, this made betting on sports much simpler and easier to be successful at.
The next big step has been the launch of the Ontario iGaming market to promote responsible internet gambling in the province.
New Operators in Ontario
The new iGaming market aims to bring players in Ontario a gambling experience with less red tape while affording a degree of consumer protection that is not possible when betting at an overseas site (or the underworld). KYC and AML procedures will help to ensure legitimate activity occurs.
This move has been met with enthusiasm by a wide variety of online betting outfits for several reasons. There’s a substantial overlap of sporting interest between the USA and Canada, and obvious commonality when it comes to language. Canadians are also keen bettors and have high levels of disposable income, making them a perfect fit for online betting and a sizeable new player base for the sportsbooks and online casinos that had hitherto been largely focused on the USA. There were rapidly 16 new operators in the Ontario market and more have since begun activity there, presenting a great range of choices and offering players a competitive marketplace.
This competitive nature is a huge advantage for players who can benefit from generous welcome offers as sportsbooks and casinos try and outdo one another in a bid to attract and then retain player custom. In addition, the experience that many operators already have south of the border means they have hit the ground running and can offer well-developed markets for sports betting on the major league sports that players in both the USA and Canada love to watch and wager on.
The Attraction of Canada/Ontario and Counterpoints
Ontario is a province of some 15 million people, which would put it in the top 5 US states by population. Gross revenue from its new iGaming market is forecast to be around the $800m mark, and will only grow from there. Naturally, bettors are excited to have a broader range of onshore and legal ways to play. The burgeoning iGaming market in Canada, specifically in Ontario, means more revenue for government coffers and protection for players.
It is worth noting that not everybody is pleased by developments (as might be expected given a small but significant number of people oppose betting in general terms). Not only are those opposed to betting on a point of principle displeased, but there are also contrary views from those who are very much pro-betting. Jim Lawson, the chief executive officer at Woodbine Entertainment, has expressed a fear that this growing online opportunity to bet in Ontario might harm the horse racing industry (for which betting is an important financial aspect).
This is perhaps less surprising than it might sound. Real-world casino and horse racing sites have been around in Canada for a long time and the relatively small number of domestic online betting opportunities certainly did them no harm. Indeed, the world-famous Niagara Falls also has a number of casinos close by, so visitors can combine stunning views with betting entertainment.
The opening up of the Ontario market to iGaming stands to be beneficial all around, by moving revenues onshore, deterring players from the underworld, and offering greater choice and protection for those who want to bet safely.