Names of Ontario’s iGaming Operators released

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Ontario has released the name of the operators who will be bringing iGaming to Canada’s most populous state when the market opens on April 4th, 2022. iGaming Ontario, which is a subsidiary of the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission, AGCO, has announced who the first 16 authorised platforms are. 

Despite much criticism and concerns about competition, the plans are going ahead.  The licenses have been granted to Annexio (LottoGo), BetMGM, Coolbet, FanDuel, Fitzdares, bet365, LeoVegas, WSOP, Ontario Lottery and Gaming, PointsBet, Rivalry, Royal Panda, Rush Street Interactive (BetRivers Ontario), the Score, Unibet and 888.

One of the concerns has been that iGaming will negatively impact the land-based casino market. Those in favor have said that it will simply be a way of closing down the ‘gray market’ where Canadians can already access sites that are not legal in the state. By having a regulated market, the state can ensure maximum player protection and earn revenue from the industry. Back in August 2021, DraftKings revealed that it had a strong customer base in Canada for its daily fantasy contests, debunking the myth that iGaming didn’t exist because it wasn’t regulated. 

Ontario will be following in the footsteps of some of the US’ states which have relaxed their laws on online gambling.  Online gambling in USA now sees online casino games legal in Delaware, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  Of these states, Pennsylvania has a population closest in size to Ontario, at 12.8 million compared to Ontario’s 14.5 million. 

Pennsylvania had a record month for gambling revenues in January with online casinos total igaming revenues of $108,310,642. However, retail slots remained the dominant revenue earner in Pennsylvania bringing in a staggering $168,441,692 in the month. Table games at land-based casinos in Pennsylvania the same month were $78,227,708. Online slots are catching up fast with a revenue of $71,836,045 – nearly 41% up on the previous year. The fact that the land-based offering has remained strong and staged a comeback after a difficult period during the Covid 19 restrictions should offer some comfort to those who oppose igaming as they believe it threatens bricks and mortar casinos

In the USA, online gambling is expanding at a rapid pace. The Research and Markets report expects it to reach annual revenues of $92.9 billion by 2023. This would be an annual compound rate of 11.6%. As well as new licenses being granted and some states relaxing their laws, the report suggests that the industry will be driven forward by technology including Blockchain and VR.  

To legally access the newly regulated sites in Ontario players will need to be at least 19 years old and be physically located within the state borders. The iGaming firms will pay a 20% tax on their gross gaming revenue.

Last week the AGCO confirmed that residency will not be a condition of being able to legally gamble in the state. This means that US residents will be able to come to Canada for a vacation to gamble online in Ontario. With borders to the American states of Minnesota, Ohio, and New York that currently don’t allow iGaming, it might be an attractive proposition for some living to the south of Ontario to just hop across the border. Ohio has legalized online sports betting, but operations have not yet gone live. Early next month Americans will be able to take a trip to Ontario and use their smartphones or other mobile devices to place sports bets and play online table games and slots. 

There are still last-minute objections being raised and companies like the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation claim that the mobile gambling tax of 20% puts bricks and mortar operators at a competitive disadvantage with their GGR taxed at 55%. The AGCO has recently announced that iGaming firms will be prohibited from advertising any inducements, credits, or bonuses other than on their own platforms or through direct marketing.

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