There’s a long list of sportsbooks waiting to operate in Ontario, but one is particularly enthusiastic about the sports betting potential in the province.
Australian-based PointsBet has created a Canadian division — PointsBet Canada — that will operate out of Toronto. The company appointed Scott Vanderwel as chief executive officer this past summer. Vanderwel, who previously served as senior vice president for Rogers Communications, hails from nearby Oakville, Ontario.
Rogers Communications is a diverse sports and content company that owns the Toronto Blue Jays and has a 37.5% stake in Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, which includes the Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto FC and other professional sports franchises. Rogers Sportsnet is one of the most popular sports cable specialty channels in Canada.
“We’re really following through on investing in the area … and being as authentically Canadian as you can across every touchpoint, within the product itself, the team you’re doing it with, and so on and so forth,” a PointsBet spokesperson told Sports Handle. “They’re definitely taking that approach, being proudly Canadian.”
The company’s goal is to be Canada’s sportsbook not by being an extension of PointsBet, but rather its own distinct Canadian unit. Once the opportunity in Ontario is fully realized, the company envisions potentially hundreds of employees working for PointsBet Canada. The sportsbook’s LinkedIn page is buzzing with new opportunities for Canadian talent.
Betting now is only through lotteries
Single-game sports wagering opened on Aug. 27 across Canada through the provincial lottery corporations, including the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s ProLine+ platform. Many other private sportsbooks, including theScore Bet, FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM, are also waiting to jump into the Ontario market, presumably sometime in the first quarter of 2022, according to Paul Burns at the Canadian Gaming Association.
Since Canada’s Parliament last summer decriminalized single-event wagering at the federal level, provincially run lotteries have been able to offer single-game betting to customers in Canada. The legal framework surrounding how private companies will be able to operate in Ontario is still being drafted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and iGaming Ontario. It’s unclear if there will be a cap on the number of private operators, and how they’ll be taxed by the province is among many details still to be sorted out.
TheScore, which was purchased by Penn National Gaming in August, is already well established with its sports app in the Ontario region. The Toronto-based company has long had a presence in the province, dating back to when it initially operated as The Score TV Network, which was later purchased by Rogers Media. Ontarians are already familiar with the brand, which could give it a leg up in the province’s sports betting landscape. Still, Vanderwel isn’t intimidated by theScore’s product.
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“I’d put our product against theirs any day,” Vandelwel told Yahoo! in September. “Like most markets, there will be five to eight players that have brand recognition and unaided awareness in this category. We intend to be one of them.”
“PointsBetting” is what makes this sportsbook operator unique. Bettors can accrue increased payouts and losses on their wagers using a sliding scale, unlike traditional fixed-odds betting.
“We own and operate our tech end to end. PointsBet is truly PointsBet from A to B. So with that, we can control our own destiny, what kind of markets are on the site,” the spokesperson explained.
PointsBet envisions the upcoming Super Bowl and Winter Olympics in February as being excellent opportunities for the sportsbook to introduce itself to the unique Ontario market.
“Something we’ve done the past few Super Bowls is we’ve offered the most bet types in the world among legal operators and offshore operators. We’ll go ahead and strive to do it again. We want the deepest offering out there. The Olympics are a great acquisitions tool, bringing in different folks into the realm of sports betting.”
Perhaps in anticipation of the Olympics, PointsBet Canada established partnerships this fall with Curling Canada and a pair of its teams.
Can officially shout it from the rooftops! We're proud to be partnering with two of the best curling teams in the world @EinarsonTeam and @TeamKevinKoe! 🥌🥇
Details➡️ https://t.co/9QPKbtY328 pic.twitter.com/z8bXypLmly
— PointsBet Canada (@PointsBetCanada) November 11, 2021
PointsBet has its North American headquarters in Colorado, but it was founded in Australia. The company is the official sports betting partner of NBC Sports.