Ontario’s legal online gambling market generated $162 million in revenue in its first quarter of operations, according to new figures that provide an initial look at the province’s effort to regulate and profit from the erstwhile Internet gambling gray market. .
The provincial agency that manages the online casino and sports betting market, iGaming Ontario (iGO), released the figures on Tuesday and said it would release regular quarterly data on the industry.
The agency said Ontarians placed a total of $4.1 billion in bets online during the three-month period ending June 30. There were almost 500,000 active accounts and the average player spent $113 per month, iGO said.
The top-line revenue figure is the total the operators generated after paying player winnings and does not represent the profit the government will ultimately receive.
IGO confirmed to the Star on Tuesday that the tax rate for licensed operators has been set at 20 percent (the industry term for this is “revenue-sharing rate”), which would translate to around $32 million for the provincial coffers in the quarter.
Paul Burns, executive director of the Canadian Gaming Association (a lobbying group for the gaming industry, which bills itself as the business of “gaming”), said the first-quarter numbers are “a positive reflection of the interest in the market,” but added that there is room to grow.
Burns predicted an increase in revenue figures in the coming quarters, noting that several big-name operators, including PokerStars and Betway, did not officially join the Ontario market until the middle of the first quarter or well into July and August. Sports betting also increases significantly in the fall with the start of the NFL season, he said.
Other prominent players in the international online sports betting and gambling business, such as Bet365, DraftKings and BetMGM, have registered to operate legally in the province, bringing many of their pre-existing users with them.
Another market participant is NorthStar Bets, owned by NordStar, an investment company led by Jordan Bitove and Paul Rivett, which also owns Torstar, the owner of this newspaper.
There were 18 operators with a total of 31 gaming websites as of June 30, iGO said (some operators run multiple different sites). Now there are 23 operators and 40 websites.
Ontario is the first Canadian province to launch a legal online gambling regime for private operators, an attempt to spur economic development and generate new tax revenue from the previously unregulated gray market, as well as introduce mandatory measures to protect consumers.
Before the market launched on April 4, only the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. offered a legal option online, but with little or no crackdown on other websites, many Ontarians placed bets on sporting events and they played online casino games with private gambling sites. .
The Ontario government previously estimated that 70 percent of the money Ontarians spend on online gambling each year goes to gray market operators.
OLG reported $295 million in revenue for its digital gaming division for the full 2020-21 fiscal year. For the entire prior five-year period, the division’s revenues totaled $406 million.
Since the launch of the legal market, television, radio and online advertising for betting websites has become ubiquitous, particularly linked to sporting events.
“Part of creating a regulated market is allowing people to advertise,” Burns said when asked about the volume of ads.
“I think the operators have a balanced approach, there are ads about player tools to manage their game and responsible gaming advertising as part of their advertising mix,” he said.
IGO said in a press release that the revenue and player account figures “suggest that people in Ontario are interested in the strong anti-money laundering and player protections offered in the regulated market.”
The agency said no one was available for an interview Tuesday, but in an email said it could not speculate on revenue trends or market growth based on just a quarter of the data.
“That said, we are encouraged by the results so far and the number of carriers that have made Ontario a priority market for their business,” iGO said in the email.
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