Genius Sports secured a multi-year data agreement with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation on Tuesday, broadening its scope north of the border as Canadian provinces continue to prepare for the rollout of single-event sports betting.
The partnership designates Genius as the official data provider for the BCLC, a lottery corporation that conducts and manages commercial gambling throughout the nation’s third-largest province. Under the deal, the BCLC will utilize Genius Sports’ cutting-edge technology to deliver real-time official data and in-game pricing across thousands of sporting events each year.
“BCLC’s partnership with Genius Sports demonstrates how the nascent Canadian sports betting industry already recognizes the importance of official data in helping to protect consumers whilst delivering the most secure and compelling products for their customers,” Genius Sports CEO Mark Locke said in a statement. “Products and services powered by the fastest, most accurate and reliable data will reinforce BCLC’s competitive advantage and help Canada fulfill the massive potential of its sports betting market.”
The Canadian gold rush
Canada’s Senate legalized single-game sports betting in June in a historic 11th hour vote. Unlike parlay betting, which has been offered in Canada for decades, single-game sports betting allows customers to wager on just one event, such as Thursday’s men’s 200-meter final at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. There, Canadian sprinter Andre De Grasse, the silver medalist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is again favored to reach the podium.
Parlay wagering, however, has only been available in Canada in limited form, through provincial lotteries. The legalization of single-event sports betting is expected to open the market to the industry’s largest players in the private sector. Top companies such as DraftKings, BetMGM, PointsBet, and theScore have expressed interest in entering a sports betting market estimated at U.S. $14 billion a year.
— JGS (@JGSventures) June 22, 2021
PointsBet has already added three prominent executives to its Canadian team, including former Rogers Communications SVP Scott Vanderwel, who was named chief executive officer of PointsBet Canada on July 21. The migration of top global sportsbooks into Canada is expected to provide a boon to Genius, which partners with 300 of the world’s largest sportsbook brands, according to the company’s website.
The legalization of single-event sports betting received a groundswell of support from North America’s top leagues, including the NHL, NBA, MLB, and CFL. Last month, Genius announced a new strategic partnership with MEDIAPRO Canada, an independent broadcast services, rights distribution, and production company. In 2019, MEDIAPRO Canada secured a 10-year partnership with Canadian Soccer Business, the company which represents the commercial interests of the Canadian Premier League.
An arms race with Ontario
While the signed bill, C-218, decriminalized single-event sports betting on the federal level, it is up to each province to decide whether to allow the activity. There are five provincial lottery corporations across Canada: the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), Loto-Québec, Atlantic Lottery, Western Canada Lottery Corporation, and the BCLC. Two provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, are widely viewed as the presumptive favorites to become the first to allow legal wagering on single-game sporting events.
Ontario is home to a number of top professional sports franchises, including the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays, and the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, the 2019 NBA champions. Last week, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario released a set of draft regulations for sports betting within the province. With more than 14.5 million residents, Ontario tops Pennsylvania (12.8 million), which is one of the largest sports betting markets in the U.S.
As provincial lotteries race to craft regulations on single-event sports betting, Ontario and British Columbia are expected to launch first.
Robust story on how and when the market may take shape by @MattRybaltowsk.https://t.co/3zRF0cFsDo
— Sports Handle (@sports_handle) July 14, 2021
British Columbia, meanwhile, has more than 5 million residents and is home to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. The province is also home to the CFL’s BC Lions, a signature franchise that has won the league’s Grey Cup championship three times since 2000. Vancouver, the third-largest city in Canada, hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Once single-event sports become operational, BCLC estimates that the province will generate between U.S. $125-$175 million in online and land-based gaming revenue, a spokesman told Sports Handle.
In April, Genius outbid rival Sportradar for the exclusive rights to the NFL’s official data feed in a landmark multi-year deal that could be worth as much as $1 billion. Canada Gaming Association President Paul Burns noted in testimony before the Senate this spring that single-event sports betting could go live by Labor Day weekend.