As Ontario turns the corner on the first year of legal iGaming throughout the province, there are signs that the market will expand at a healthy clip over the next few years.
Over a 12-month period through April 3, the Ontario iGaming industry provided a total economic contribution of $1.58 billion (CAD) to the GDP of the province, according to a study by Deloitte. The industry sustained about 12,072 jobs, the financial services firm estimated, leading to a contribution of about $906 million in labor income. By the end of the market’s 10th year, Deloitte projects a near three-fold increase in total economic contribution to $4.73 billion, with estimated job creation of about 22,132 positions across the industry.
Deloitte released the 34-page report at last week’s Canadian Gaming Summit, one of the largest North American gambling conferences each year. In preparing the report, Deloitte incorporated data from Statistics Canada, operator survey forecasts, iGaming Ontario, external industry statistics, a jurisdictional scan, and internal forecasts from Deloitte Canada’s Economic Outlook and Deloitte Canada’s Sports Betting Forecast.
This spring, iGaming Ontario reported that Ontarians wagered about $35.6 billion (CAD) in the first year of the market, a massive figure for the debut of online gaming in the province. It resulted in approximately $1.4 billion in total gaming revenue over the period, a figure that places the province in the top five of all North American jurisdictions, according to iGaming Ontario.
It is important to note that iGaming Ontario does not provide a breakdown by vertical in its quarterly reports. Each quarter, iGaming Ontario reports the overall handle and total gaming revenue from iCasino, mobile sports betting, and online poker in a single category.
Future opportunities around technological developments may arise through further investment by companies with in-game sports betting, Deloitte notes. Investment opportunities may also evolve with certain customer preferences, according to Deloitte, which listed microbetting as a potential growth area in the category.
Moving forward, Deloitte will gauge demographic, economic, and household expenditure considerations in its outlook, but will also weigh further channelization, according to Jeff Harris, who serves as national leader of Deloitte Canada’s sports business advisory. In that cohort, Deloitte will monitor the rise of markets such as in-play sports gambling and microbetting.
“On microbetting, this presents similarities to the video game industry as far as the microtransactions that allow users to customize their experience,” Harris told Sports Handle.
On Thursday, Canada marked the two-year anniversary of the passage of a bill decriminalizing single-event sports betting nationwide. The passage of Bill C-218 has enabled Canadians to wager on single-event sports on a provincial basis.
Other takeaways from the conference
Over the last several months, the Ontario sports betting industry has braced for the rollout of enhanced standards on sports wagering advertising. Outside of Canada, global gaming regulators have cracked down on such advertising in 2023. In April, the U.K. Gambling Commission made a series of recommendations for heightened regulations on advertising in an effort to deter the targeting of minors.
At last week’s conference, outgoing Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) CEO Tom Mungham provided an update on when the new standards could be issued. The decision may be reached within weeks, “not months,” Mungham noted via Gaming News Canada. If the robust standards are adopted, the AGCO may recommend a ban on sports betting commercials featuring celebrities. Such a prohibition could have wide ramifications on the industry. BetMGM, for instance, counts Wayne Gretzky and Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid among its brand ambassadors.
Since sports betting became legal in Ontario, we’ve been beaten over the head by gambling ads watching sports, listening to the radio, using social media, or simply walking down the street.
Ontario must control the onslaught of sports betting ads.https://t.co/kYoO2dKuz2
— John Fraser (@JohnFraserOS) June 1, 2023
Separately, Ontario Sen. Marty Deacon introduced a bill this week that aims to create a national framework for sports betting advertising across Canada. The bill, S-269, seeks to restrict or ban celebrity athletes from participating in the advertisements. The bill also intends to set limits on the scope and number of ads on sports gambling.
Books fined for offering bets on junior hockey
The AGCO fined two sportsbook operators for violating standards on internet gaming by allegedly offering wagers on Canadian junior hockey.
The two operators, BV Gaming Limited (BetVictor) and Fitzdares Canada Limited, offered numerous bets on Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games during the 2022-23 season, according to the AGCO. The operators were fined $15,000 each for the infractions.
“As the regulator of Ontario’s sports betting industry, the AGCO is resolved to maintain the integrity of sports betting, which, in turn, may serve to protect the integrity of sport,” said Dave Phillips, chief operating officer of the AGCO, in a statement. “This includes a clear prohibition on offering bets in Ontario on minor league sports, including Canadian major junior hockey. We will continue to carefully monitor Ontario’s sports betting markets to ensure the public interest is protected.”