LIVE UPDATES: The Latest On Online Gambling Sports Betting In Canada

Written By Robyn McNeil on September 3, 2021 - Last Updated on January 21, 2022

Canada’s online gambling scene has never been hotter.

When Bill C-218 came into effect on Aug. 27, the legal change paved the way for provinces to add singles to their offerings. With it, some provincial lotteries, like Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), jumped into the expanded market with both feet. Others have (mostly) eased their way in.

As Canada’s most populous province (with nearly 15 million residents), Ontario leads the way. But if, when and how quickly other regions choose to open their online markets to private operators is very much uncertain.

However, Alberta has indicated it is looking at bringing in two operators in a tethered capacity.

But, new uncertainty looms for Ontario, too. A report commissioned by Great Canadian Gaming, made public by CBC on Jan. 17, claims the new market will be more bust than a boon for the province. How the report may affect the market launch is yet to be determined.

As sportsbook operators (provincial and private) continue to compete for Canada’s sports betting market share, things change quickly.

But, PlayCanada is here to help you make sense of the news. And we’ll be updating this post as changes happen, so check back to stay informed.

2022 Canada online sports betting and casino updates

Jan. 21: Launch announcement coming soon says Ontario Attorney General

In a statement to PlayCanada, Natasha Krstajic, spokesperson for Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey, reaffirmed the government’s commitment to establishing a new online gambling market.

“The Ontario Government recently learned about the report developed by HLT Advisory Inc., on behalf of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation,” said Krstajic. “Ontario’s new igaming market will complement existing land-based gaming activity by providing a new opportunity for Ontario’s land-based operators to expand into igaming to diversify revenue sources and cross-promote between online and land-based sites.”

“The government, AGCO and iGaming Ontario are working with prospective operators to ensure Ontario is ready for the market launch,” Krstajic added. “And its timing will be announced soon.”

Jan. 19: Industry source says GCGC report could delay Ontario launch by months

New details of the contents of a report claiming Ontario’s anticipated open online gambling market will shrink the provincial bankroll have come to light.

A report by Legal Sports Report includes a copy of two pages of the report containing a summary of the drawbacks associated with Ontario’s plan, as it stands. The pages also include a list of requests GCGC feels will level the playing field.

Among those requests, GCGC asks the province to ensure only existing land-based casino operators can take sportsbook bets.

In addition, the company is asking the province:

  • Immediately halt the online gambling licensing process.
  • Grant existing land-based casinos a two-year exclusive license to operate internet gaming.
  • Crackdown on “grey” market business.
  • Force competitors to delete existing customer databases before the legal launch.
  • Exclude offshore operators from establishing physical betting locations in the province.

However, the biggest bombshell in LSR’s reporting comes from an unnamed source.

According to the unidentified gaming executive, the impending provincial election could mean any delay is substantial.

“Governments in election mode avoid controversy at all costs.”

The source thinks the report could delay the launch up to three months. And this is after initial plans for a 2021 kick-off failed to be realized.

“There is significant chance this could be delayed,” the source told LSR. “More than 50% in my opinion. GCC has $2 billion invested in the province. It is the largest single employer in the gaming sector. Anyone ignoring that fact is a lobbyist.”

Another Ontario-based gaming consultant, Terry Debono, told LSR we may see an announcement of further delays in the coming week.

Said Debono, “Everyone should be watching Ontario very closely.”

Jan. 17: Great Canadian Gaming attempts to pull the brakes in Ontario

A study commissioned by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation found Ontario’s plan to regulate private online casino and sportsbook companies is detrimental to the province. Specifically, it says the plan will kill jobs and result in $2.8 billion in lost tax revenue over the next five years.

The study, completed by HLT Advisory, was obtained by CBC News, which reported the findings to the public on Monday. According to insiders, the Ontario government had the opportunity to review the findings prior.

British Columbia-based Great Canadian operates 26 land-based casinos nationally, 14 in Ontario. So, the company has an interest in keeping the competition in check.

Whether the province will take Great Canadian seriously is unknown. But there’s concern among those waiting on a launch announcement. Fears include the chance the report could delay Ontario’s igaming launch until after the provincial election, or longer.

Jan. 14: PointsBet Canada signs multi-year deal with Sunnyvale’s finest

PointsBet Canada is the newest resident in Sunnyvale Trailer Park.

The company announced an exclusive, multi-year deal with the Trailer Park Boys on Friday morning via press release. Along with the announcement, PBC released a teaser of the Boys’ first promo ad ahead of Monday’s official Canadian brand launch.

According to Nic Sulsky, PointsBet’s chief commercial officer, the deal is an example of the authenticity PointsBet Canada is striving for.

“Our mission from day one has been to build a sportsbook as authentically Canadian as poutine. And nothing says Canadiana more than the Trailer Park Boys. We are thrilled to have Bubbles, Ricky, and Julian join Canada’s sportsbook to bring fans a new, innovative experience.”

The deal includes content collaborations on the TPB and PBC-owned channels, according to the release. And Sunnyvale’s finest will star in PointsBet’s ad campaigns, activations, and special VIP events.

Jan 14: With the torch lighting around the corner, Canadians are getting ready

Canadian sports fans will be pleased to find out most can wager on the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

However, the launch of Ontario’s expanded sports betting market won’t likely occur before judges award the first medal, nor maybe even the last. However, most Canadians can make Olympic bets through their provincial lotteries. PlayCanada breaks down what’s available, and where, in this helpful post.

Jan. 11 – Playtech enters Canada through NorthStar Gaming

Canada’s NorthStar Gaming announced its partnership with the world’s leading software provider, Playtech.

Thanks to the agreement, Playtech will power NorthStar’s upcoming igaming launch in Ontario through its IMS platform.

NorthStar Gaming CEO and founding partner Michael Moskowitz said:

“NorthStar Gaming is thrilled to be the exclusive Canadian partner in the media and publishing sector with Playtech, the world’s leading gambling technology supplier.” 

“Playtech’s industry-leading suite of tools will give us an unmatched edge in the marketplace, given our proprietary content and localization – something we know consumers are looking for.”

Jan. 10: PointsBet Canada Joins NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA)

PointsBet Canada teamed up with the NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA) to become their exclusive sports betting partner in Canada and official partner in the United States.

Effective immediately, the multi-year deal gives PointsBet Canada the marketing and licensing rights to the NHLAA and the many iconic NHL Alumni across North America.

Nic Sulsky, PointsBet Canada’s CCO said:

“The NHL Alumni Association has always been at the top of our list as PointsBet entered Canada.” 

“Saturday night hockey is an institution from coast-to-coast-to-coast. Being able to partner with the likes of Paul Coffey, Nicklas Lidstrom, Mike Vernon, and the countless other NHL Alumni that skated across our screens will allow us to deliver the authentically Canadian gaming experience that we want to bring sports fans.”

Jan. 4: Several Canadian provinces introduce new measures

Quebec, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador documented a record number of COVID-19 cases after New Year’s Eve.

As a result, provincial governments introduced new measures to deal with an Omicron-fueled rise in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations. These include delaying in-person schooling in Ontario by two weeks and closing indoor entertainment.

Premier Doug Ford said Monday:

“The immediate goal of these measures will be to blunt the latest wave so we can ease the pressure on our hospitals.”

“We face a tsunami of new cases in the days and weeks ahead.”

On the other hand, Quebec is the only province to use a curfew as part of its efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. The government is also bringing in the military to help speed up its third-dose vaccination efforts.

2021 Canada online sports betting and casino updates

Dec. 31: Ontario’s Auditor General addresses criticism of igaming report

The Office of the Auditor General of Ontario issued a report raising potential legal concerns of the planned market for internet-based casino gambling and sports betting in the province.

As Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, told PlayCanada:

“We put out the report because we do have some concerns with the model.”

“One, from the perspective of whether the model meets the requirements for conduct and manage under the Criminal Code. And secondly, with respect to the governance structure of how iGaming [Ontario] is being organized.”

As Lysyk mentioned in the report, the government should review all issues before opening the market to private operators. If it doesn’t happen, legal challenges could arise.

Dec. 26: Everi strikes deal with ALC over iGaming content

Everi Digital announced a new partnership that will bring its award-winning games to Atlantic Lottery Corporation’s (ALC) online casinos.

Everi Digital, Everi Holdings Inc’s division, provides land-based and online casino gaming content. The company specializes in financial technology and player loyalty solutions.

Everi delivers its online slot offerings or ALC  via their proprietary Spark Remote Game Server™ (Spark RGS).

David Lucchese, executive VP of sales, marketing, and digital for Everi, said in a release:

“Our valuable new partnership with ALC allows Everi Digital to expand the footprint of our state-of-the-art Spark RGS platform and deliver high-performing content to online players in Atlantic Canada.”

Dec. 24: First Nations exploring 2030 Winter Olympics bid

Four First Nations in British Columbia are looking to bring the Olympics back to the province.

Líl̓wat, Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh representatives joined the mayors of Vancouver and Whistler in a discussion on Dec. 10. The group announced their partnership to explore ta 2030 Winter Olympics bid.

It will be the first Indigenous-led Olympic bid—if it happens.

Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow told reporters.

“I think this is a big part of reconciliation, of moving forward.”

Dec. 23: CGA Appointments Give Further Clues About Betting Market

The Canadian Gaming Association is making new additions.

After adding four new members to the board of directors a month ago, the trade association announced new appointmentsHard Rock International executive as the CGA’s chairperson and a Flutter Entertainment exec as vice-chair.

Ilkim Hincer is Hard Rock’s executive vice president and chief legal officer, while George Sweny is vice president of compliance at Flutter.

Paul Burns, CGA’s president and CEO, said in a news release.

 “I am pleased that Ilkim has accepted the role of Chair of the Board of Directors.”

“I’ve known Ilkim for years and have followed his notable career in the gaming industry. Ilkim has a strong track record with some of the world’s largest gaming operators, both here in Canada and in the United States.

Dec. 23: Sports Interaction Named NLL’s Official Canadian Sports Betting Partner

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) and Sports Interaction (SI) have officially teamed up. The news came after the NLL named SI its official Canadian sports betting partner.

The deal was signed on Dec. 17 and featured on NLL broadcasts on TSN throughout the country.

NLL Commissioner Nick Sakiewicz said:

“We have been developing the NLL Sports Betting platform as a new line of business throughout the last 20 months, and betting partners are a key part of the platform.”

“We are excited and honoured to bring back a renewed relationship with Sports Interaction that will take our collective marketing efforts to a new level and grow our respective businesses through an engagement platform for our fans as our Official Canadian Sports Betting Partner.”

Dec. 22: NHL Players Would Not Skate In Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics

The National Hockey League (NHL) and NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) agree.

The NHL and NHLPA decided players would not participate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament scheduled for February.

The decision comes after a ‘material interruption’ of the NHL’s regular-season schedule due to increasing COVID-19 cases. The interruption includes the ever-rising number of postponed games.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement:

“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament.”

“Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our Players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.”

The NHL had until Jan. 10, 2022, to opt-out of the Olympics without a financial penalty.

Dec. 16: Raptors vs. Bulls Game Postponed Due To Bulls’ COVID Outbreak

The Raptors vs. Chicago game scheduled for Dec. 16 was postponed due to a potential COVID-19 outbreak on the Bulls.

The Raptors coach, Nick Nurse, said in a release:

“I think it’s kind of just reality. When there’s a situation that we’ve been made aware of, then you step up and do everything you’re asked to do. And you do it together, and you do it with positivity.”

The NBA announced that the Bulls would postpone their Toronto game and a home game against Detroit.

The Chicago Bulls has ten players and staff members following the NBA’s health and safety protocol. That leaves the Bulls with eight players, the league’s minimum to field a team.

Dec. 15: Genius Sports Strikes Data Deal With Canadian Football League

Genius Sports has partnered with the Canadian Football League (CFL).

Starting Jan. 2022, the long-term agreement will see the data and technology provider offer a range of services to the CFL.

In return, the B2B provider will have the exclusive rights to leverage CFL’s data and video content for commercial purposes.

Mark Locke, Genius Sports’ CEO, said in a release:

“Together, we will revolutionize the entire CFL product, delivering truly immersive experiences for their existing fans and attracting new audiences who crave year-round, top-flight football action.”

Dec. 14: Alberta Solicits Proposals For Retail & Mobile Sports Betting

Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) issued a request for proposal in search of two commercial sports betting companies to operate in the western province.

As of Dec. 10, interested parties can apply through Alberta Purchasing Connection.

AGLC’s president & CEO, Kandice Machado, said in a release:

“Opening the bid process for retail sportsbetting [sic] in Alberta is another exciting step for sports fans in the province.”

“AGLC is proud to facilitate this next step that will involve the existing casino and racing entertainment centre industry while working with Alberta’s major professional sports teams. Continuing this work is an important step in offering consumers convenience and choice in their gambling entertainment options.”

The proposal process for vendors will close on Jan. 31, 2022.

Dec. 14: Intema aims for Ontario online gambling market

Canadian company Intema Solutions is determined to become a registered online gaming and sports betting operator in the province.

The information technology firm is one of the latest to apply for a market license with Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO).

From Laurent Benezra, Intema’s president and CEO:

“Apart from being Canada’s most populous province, Ontario has taken a leading role in regulating online gaming practices, which bodes very well for newly licensed companies in this large potential market.”

Dec. 13: GameOn strikes a deal with Gaming Society

GameOn has announced a Gaming Society partnership to help promote women’s sports.

The Toronto-based company will license GameOn’s proprietary technology to power the fan engagement initiatives as part of the agreement.

Jaymee Messler, Gaming Society founder, said:

“If you look around the gaming landscape, there aren’t many products that exist for the passionate fan communities of women’s sports.

“Partnering with GameOn will allow women’s sports fans to further invest in their favourite leagues, teams, and athletes while entering the betting space in a more accessible and easier way.”

Dec. 10: Alberta solicits proposals for retail & online sports betting

Alberta Gaming, Liquor & Cannabis (AGLC) is welcoming bids from vendors wishing to enter the province’s sports betting market. As of today, interested parties can apply through Alberta Purchasing Connection.

AGLC is aiming for retail and online sports betting options with mobile extensions, to be up and running in 2022. As a first step, AGLC is seeking two operators in the first phase, with additional opportunities possible as the market develops.

Kandice Machado, AGLC’s president & chief executive officer, said in a release:

“Opening the bid process for retail sportsbetting [sic] in Alberta is another exciting step for sports fans in the province.”

AGLC is proud to facilitate this next step that will involve the existing casino and racing entertainment centre industry while working with Alberta’s major professional sports teams. Continuing this work is an important step in offering consumers convenience and choice in their gambling entertainment options.”

AGLC has maintained communication with casino representatives and the Alberta Sports Coalition, representing the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks. AGLC will monitor other provincial markets while pulling feedback from the Alberta sports betting industry to safely add to vendor opportunities down the road.

The proposal process for vendors will close on January 31, 2022. Successful proponents of the Negotiated Request for Proposals will be announced when awarded.

Dec. 9: Scientific Games Acquires ELK Studios

Scientific Games strikes an igaming content deal with the acquisition of ELK Studios, a European games developer.

The deal will see Scientific Games bring ELK’s content into the Canadian market and across the US.

The newly signed agreement will further improve the provider’s position in the UK and Europe.

Dylan Slaney, CEO igaming at Scientific Games said:

“We have had a strategic partnership with ELK Studios for a number of years, and its games have performed brilliantly across the OpenGaming platform.”

Dec. 2: CPL Expands To Vancouver

The Canadian Premier League (CPL) announced an expansion club to SixFive Sports & Entertainment in the Vancouver, B.C. area.

The ninth club in Canada’s top professional soccer league, the franchise will debut in the 2023 season.

CPL commissioner, David Clanachan, said:

“Not only is it great for soccer in Canada, I think it’s great for the Canadian Premier League.”

“I think it’s great for all our fans and supporters. And for everything we’re trying to build. For me, every time we take a step forward, it’s not only a step forward; it’s a step upward.”

Dec. 1: Loto-Québec Asks Authorities To Confront Illegal Online Gambling

Loto-Québec lacks the necessary tools to compete with illegal online gambling sites. It, therefore, asked police and lawmakers to prevent companies from offering illicit services.

Loto-Québec’s new president and CEO, Jean-François Bergeron, emphasized the difficulties the lottery faces while speaking at the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal:

“We’re going to do our part, but there’s public security that has to do its part.”

“There’s the federal government – because it’s a criminal law – the federal government has to do its part.”

Nov. 30: SBC Summit North America

Betting and gambling industry experts came together for SBC Summit North America at the Meadowlands Exposition Center, New Jersey. It’s the year’s largest gathering with 2,500 delegates and 200 world-class speakers, running from Nov 30 – Dec 2.

Caesars’ board member Jan Jones Blackhurst, Bally’s board chair Soo Kim and the AGA’s CEO Bill Miller are keynote speakers.

Sue Schneider, SBC’s VP, growth & strategy, said:

“We’re delighted to mark our return to the US by presenting what is undoubtedly the strongest speaker lineup ever assembled for a sports betting and igaming industry conference in North America, with all the major operators participating alongside renowned experts from across the sector.”

Nov. 23: Loto-Quebec teamed up with Blueprint Gaming

Slot developer, Blueprint Gaming, partnered with Loto-Québec to launch its games in the province. This latest agreement will see the lottery go live with the offering of Blueprint’s slot titles.

Ryan Collinge, Blueprint’s Gaming’s group business development director said:

“Loto-Québec is building a strong online casino offering.”

”We’re delighted to have secured this partnership with the lottery to supply our wide range of games.”

Nov. 22: OLG introduces live dealer games on OLC.ca

After partnering with Evolution Gaming, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation added an exciting new casino experience with a digital twist.

OLG.ca launched a selection of live dealer games where players can interact directly with casino game presenters via live stream.

Dave Pridmore, OLG’s chief digital and strategy officer, said:

“We’re thrilled to be launching these dynamic, engaging live casino games on OLG.ca. “And to be the only site in Ontario that offers them, adding further choice and convenience for our customers.”

Nov. 19: Parleh Media Group closed a $1M financing round

Parley Media Group (PMG) announced the closure of a $1-million pre-seed financing round.

The Canadian media company added the gaming industry experts Benjie Cherniak and Chris Grove as investors. Las Vegas-based industry experts join PMG to extend the company’s presence in Canada and the US.

According to PMG’s press release, the gambling veterans’ commitment further cements the company “as a rising media presence” in North America.

Nov. 19: Canadian Gaming association added new board members

Scott Burton, Neil Erlick, Jeffrey Haas and Chuck Keeling are the Canadian Gaming Association’s new board members.

The CGA announced four new additions to its board of directors during its annual general meeting.

Paul Burns, CGA’s president and CEO said:

“I am pleased to welcome Scott, Neil, Jeffrey and Chuck to the CGA Board of Directors and believe their experience will help the association implement its operational strategy as we move out of COVID.”

Nov. 18: PointsBet Canada teams up with national curling champs

PointsBet Canada continues to carve out its Canadian position, partnering with national curling champions Kerri Einarson and Kevin Koe. The deal comes only weeks after an agreement with Curling Canada.

Scott Vanderwel, PointsBet Canada’s CEO said:

“PointsBet Canada prides itself on excellence. This is why we are teaming up with two of our country’s top curling teams.”

“We are uniquely Canadian and want to support athletes and teams that embody our love for the sport and the maple leaf.”

Canada’s curling champions share the enthusiasm. Skip Kerri Einarson, two-time reigning women’s national champion added:

“We are thrilled to be partnering with PointsBet Canada. PointsBet has an incredible passion for curling and will grow our sport across Canada.”

Nov. 16: Yggdrasil Slots are coming to Canada

Yggdrasil Gaming is making its Canadian debut after making a deal with International Game Technology (IGT).

The leading software supplier signed a multi-year content distribution deal with IGT. The agreement exclusive access to a selection of Yggdrasil slots for distribution to US and Canadian casinos.

For Yggdrasil, this is a big deal. The agreement marks its introduction to North America.


Mid-November summary

BC single-event sports bets hit $25M

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) announced bettors in the province had wagered more than $25 million in two months on single events. According to the lottery, the spend demonstrates their ability to provide engaging sports betting entertainment on PlayNow safely.

Lynda Cavanaugh, BCLC’s interim president and CEO says:

“This is a significant milestone for BCLC. It’s important for players to know that playing with BCLC supports the success of British Columbia, as PlayNow.com is the only legal gambling website from which revenue supports important provincial initiatives, including healthcare and education.”

AGCO Releases Gambling Notification Matrix

Early in the month, AGCO released the Gambling Notification Matrix, offering Operators and suppliers a better understanding of responsibilities around regulatory reporting.

Around the same time, rumours around the launch of Ontario’s new competitive market started to swirl. While no launch date is confirmed, feelings among insiders indicate a kickoff in Q1 of next year is more likely than the December start promised.

Live5 Gaming expands into British Columbia

Out on the West Coast, Live5 Gaming is expanding into British Columbia for the first time after getting a nod from the British Columbia Gaming Enforcement and Policy Branch. Live5 will integrate its games into BCLC’s existing system by working with Scientific Games (SG). The company’s technology powers BCLC’s gambling platform, PlayNow.

The addition will see BC players access popular Live5 titles like Sheba, Orb of Osiris, Win In Rome and Minotaur.


October summary

Rivalry and FansUnite set sites on Ontario

Prospective operators and suppliers like Rivalry and FansUnite aren’t wasting any time when it comes to Ontario. The two operators were among the first to apply for registration.

Rivalry is eager to become fully registered in Ontario. To that end, the company submitted its application to the AGCO.

Steven Salz, Rivalry’s co-founder and CEO explained:

“As a Toronto-based company and long-standing member of the tech ecosystem here, we could not be more excited for the opportunity to finally offer our incredible product and brand experiences at home in our own backyard.”

FansUnite officially filed to become a registered gaming supplier, too. As a license holder, FansUnite could offer its full esports and casino white label gaming platform, Chameleon, to other registered operators.

Scott Burton, FansUnite CEO added:

“As a Canadian-grown company, we’ve been looking forward to the day where we can operate in our home country.”

“Ontario’s success will set the framework and serve as the blueprint for how the rest of the provinces could approach regulated gaming. That said, we are eager to be a part of that success.”

Federal government audit reveals OLG abuses

A federal audit of OLG’s business revealed multiple policy violations. The audit raised concerns about the value OLG provides taxpayers. Findings allege OLG misused corporate credit, compensated improper practices, and planned to privatize casinos.

However, according to OLG’s external communications director Tony Bitonti, the credit card expenses were work-related. As Bitonti explained, the government and OLG board approved current salary ranges in 2018. They’ve remained frozen since.

“A third-party assessment has confirmed that these salary ranges fall within market rates for the wider public sector.”

Parley Media launches Parleh TV

Parleh Media Group (PMG) launched Canada’s first dedicated sports betting broadcast network, Parleh TV. As of Oct. 7, we have access to a full slate of sports betting shows and segments. The company engaged dozens of dynamic content creators to deliver videos showcasing sports and events from every coast.

Operators make Canadian moves

With provinces now able to regulate single bets alongside current offerings, some operators are more prepared than others for a share of the action.

BetRivers will enter the Canadian market with the launch of CASINO4FUN. And, when parent company Rush Street Interactive (RSI) receives its Ontario online casino license, players can transition to real money bets.

While awaiting regulatory approvals, PointsBet has also been eager to launch operations. Signing an exclusive partnership with Curling Canada, the operator achieved another milestone in the Canadian gaming scene.

Meanwhile, FanDuel appointed Dale Hooper as the new GM to lead their Canadian expansion.

Penn National completes acquisition of theScore

As previously announced, Penn National Gaming completed its acquisition of Score Media and Gaming (theScore). Back in August, the two entered into a definitive agreement worth $2.4 billion (US$2 billion) in cash and stock. The deal went through on Oct. 19.


September summary

September was a big month for Canadian gambling, with singles bets coming online in most provinces.

Before Bill C-218, Canadians could only wager on parlay bets. The legal change gave provinces to introduce single bets to complement current regional offerings.

Proline Plus, OLG new sports betting platform, launches

OLG’s new sports betting platform, Proline Plus, launched that first day. BCLC, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MLL), and Loto-Québec also introduced singles on day one.

One week later, OLG reported single bets brought in a million-dollar handle in the first week of wagering. In just under a month, Ontarians wagered $6M, including bets on novelty events.

AGCO opens market registration, rolls out application guides

The biggest news for those with eyes on the province: Alcohol And Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) opened registration for potential operators and suppliers on Sept. 13. Those interested can submit applications via iAGCO, AGCO’s online service portal

The AGCO also rolled out an online gambling regulatory guide to assist interested operators and suppliers with their registration applications.

September was also busy on the business front as companies looking at Ontario began building their teams and closing new deals.

Apollo Funds acquire Great Canadian Gaming

Apollo Funds completed its acquisition of Great Canadian Gaming Corporation (GCG) on Sept. 22. Closure of the $2.48 billion deal also saw the appointment of online gambling veteran Anthony “Tony” Rodio to GCG CEO.

PointsBet Canada Stacks the deck

PointsBet Canada was September’s most active commercial sportsbook, adding to an already experienced executive team. The company appointed Scott Vanderwel as CEO and hired Dale Fallon as senior director of product. Previous additions included Nic Sulsky, CCO and Chantal Cipriano, VP – legal, compliance & people.

PointsBet also signed a strategic agreement with Canadian sports-focused websites, Dailyfaceoff.com and The Nation Network.

Saskatchewan signs historic deal with FSIN

Otherwise, on the gambling front, Saskatchewan (the only province currently without regulated online gambling) signed a historic deal with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. According to the agreement signed on Sept. 23, the federation and the province will manage an online gaming website. Insiders expect the launch to happen in 2022.

Sports Betting in Canada from coast, to coast (to coast)

British Columbia

British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) did not wait to offer singles betting to BC-based bettors. The westernmost province launched its expanded sports betting options on day one, powered by Scientific Games’ OpenSports platform. British Columbians can now make bets—single or parlay—on all major sports, including racing and fighting on BCLC’s PlayNow.com.

“This is a landmark moment for BCLC and our players,” says Lynda Cavanaugh, BCLC’s Interim President and CEO.

“We’re excited to enhance our offerings on PlayNow.com, the only gambling website operating in BC where revenue goes back to British Columbians by supporting provincial initiatives like healthcare, education and community programs.”

Currently, single-event bets are only available online at PlayNow.

But, BCLC is also exploring opportunities to offer single-event sports betting across land-based channels, including BC casinos. How that rolls out, however, remains to be determined.

Alberta

Alberta’s expanded sports betting market got off to a slower start. Wild rose country let day one come and go without mention of an impending launch. Day 6, however, was a different story.

Yesterday, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) announced sports betting, including single bets, are now available on Play Alberta. The new additions to the province’s only regulated online gambling site offer Albertans an array of new betting options. In addition to the usual wagers, players can place Money Line, Point Spread, Over/Under, and Props bets. And there’s lots of league choice, including the NHL, NFL, CFL, MLB, NBA, European soccer, and more.

PlayAlberta runs on NeoPollard Inretactive’s (NPi), industry-leading NeoSphere iLottery Technology and Sporting Solutions’ Advanced Betting Platform.

AGLC is continuously looking for ways to improve Play Alberta,” said Kandice Machado, Acting President & CEO, AGLC.

Play Alberta Sports Betting will take the existing sports betting market that players are familiar with and introduce a modern option that presents Albertans with choice and convenience in a safe and regulated environment.”

Alberta has its eye on introducing in-person sports betting too.

In a letter to the Senate committee on banking, trade and commerce, Machado noted the opportunities on offer. Namely, in addition to a digital footprint, regulation would allow AGLC to expand sports betting to land-based facilities too.

“Adjusting the Criminal Code to allow for betting on a single event would give AGLC the ability to work with its industry stakeholders to offer sports wagering in destination facilities throughout Alberta,” wrote Machado in June.

According to Canadian Gaming Association CEO Paul Burns, this could include allowing casinos to partner with existing sportsbook operators. While these partnerships would certainly cover retail, there’s an indication of mobile offerings, too.

But we’ll wait to see before we get too excited.

Saskatchewan

Despite being the home province of Kevin Waugh, so far, it looks like Saskatchewan is taking things slower than its western neighbours. In early 2020, Waugh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Grasswood, introduced the singles betting legislation now in effect.

Until recently, Saskatchewan only has a lottery, land-based casinos, and charitable gaming. Sports betting is available through Sports Select and now includes single-event betting. Sports Select is operated by the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC), of which Saskatchewan is a member. Others include Alberta and Manitoba. Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut are associate members too.

Ultimately though, Saskatchewan will likely have in-person and online sports wagering.

Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA), a non-profit operating seven casinos, has the mandate to run online gaming and sports betting for the province.

In June, Zane Hansen, SIGA’s president and CEO, told the Senate committee that SIGA recently agreed to terms for a gaming app.

Otherwise, Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation (SaskGaming), which operates two casinos in the province, is not ready to offer singles. But that capability is coming.

SaskGaming, on behalf of the government, has been working with SIGA to explore the options for the delivery of online gaming opportunities in Saskatchewan, opportunities which can be expected to include single-event sports betting,” said Susan Flett, president and CEO.

Manitoba

Manitoba is a bit of an odd bird as far as gambling and sports betting go.

MLL is the crown corporation responsible for overseeing liquor, gaming, and cannabis for the province. It operates two land-based casinos in the region and manages local video lottery terminals (VLTs). As a member of WCLC, MLL also sells their products through a network of privately-owned retailers.

The province differs from Alberta and Saskatchewan in its 2012 partnership with BCLC that brought PlayNow to Manitoba consumers in 2013. It’s this difference that brought single-event bets to Manitobans on day one, too. But, despite their early adoption, MLL is considering other ways to benefit from the new singles opportunity.

​​”PlayNow.com players will soon have the option to wager on the outcome of just a single game or match or to place wagers on the outcomes of single fights and races,” spokesperson Susan Harrison before launch. “Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries is also exploring additional opportunities where single-event sports betting could potentially be offered.”

Ontario

When it comes to Canadian sports betting, there’s no doubt—all eyes are Ontario.

As we expect from Canada’s most populous province, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) took immediate advantage of single-event wagers.

On day one, OLG launched Proline Plus, the next generation of Proline, its standard sports betting offering. Proline Plus invites Ontarians to the “plus side,” which features dynamic, competitive, real-time odds and thousands of new wagering options. Including single-event bets.

“We’re thrilled to launch our new digital sportsbook, Proline Plus on this momentous day,” said Duncan Hannay, OLG President and CEO. “More events, more betting options, and greater accessibility means more fan engagement.”

Ontario is open for business

By far, the opportunity that has most folks excited is Ontario’s plan to open online gambling to competition from private operators. Doing so will make Ontario the fifth-largest market in North America, and many folks are waiting with bated breath.

In preparation for the competitive market, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has engaged with stakeholders on all aspects of the new sector. They’ve also established iGaming Ontario, the agency responsible for managing internet gaming by private operators.

As for those private operators, some big names are looking for inclusion in Ontario’s new sports betting frontier. From usual suspects like DraftKings and PointsBet to unexpected entrants like TorStar, it seems everyone wants some of Ontario’s pie. Toronto Star’s publisher surprised everyone when they announced launching a sportsbook this fall, subject to AGCO approval.

Like Canada’s sports media darlings, Score Media and Gaming (theScore), other potential players make more sense. theScore is planning to launch their sportsbook, theScore Bet, in Ontario (also pending approval) as soon as possible. They’re even moving their headquarters into fancy new digs on Toronto’s waterfront in anticipation.

Applications opened recently for Ontario’s new online gambling market in preparation for what was supposed to be a December launch. Now, however, AGCO has hinted at a delay until early 2022.

Until then, Ontarians’ only legal option for single-event bets is OLG’s Proline Plus.

Québec

In Canada’s second most-populated province, Loto-Québec has taken the reigns on the expansion into single bets. They entered the fray on Aug. 27 with OLG, BCLC, and MLL. And, as with the latter two, Scientific Games’ OpenSports was under the hood.

Things kicked off with single-bets available at retailers and on the lottery’s online gaming platform, Mise-o-jeu. And Loto-Québec couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

“This move to allow single betting is great news for sports betting fans and Loto-Québec alike,” said Louis Beaudet, Director of Sports and Entertainment Betting. “We know that consumers have wanted to bet on the outcome of single games for a long time, and we’re thrilled to be able to give them what they want.”

Atlantic Canada

Like WCLC in the prairies, lottery on the east coast is run collectively by the four Atlantic provinces. Through alc.ca, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) offers parlay bets to residents of its member provinces. While ALC is a collective, what’s available in each region differs according to provincial laws. For example, New Brunswick (NB) is the only Atlantic province with access to ALC’s online casino offerings. ALC launched the casino as a pilot project in August 2020 with plans to eventually expand into Nova Scotia (NS) and Prince Edward Island (PEI). However, ALC has yet to broach extending ALC’s casino offering into Newfoundland and Labrador (NFLD). And, as of publication, only NB’s casino is live.

ALC offers parlay betting in all four provinces through their Proline sports betting product.

But, when it comes to single-event sports wagers, it’s not quite so uniform.

Like, BCLC, Loto-Quèbec, MLL, and OLG, ALC launched single-event bets on the first day allowed. And, like the first three, the backbone of their offering is provided by Scientific Games technology.

However, the single-event rollout has not happened across the board. While customers in NB, PEI, and NFLD are free to wager on single events now, players in NS are still waiting.

“The announcement of the Aug. 27 effective date was another step in the process of bringing this new product to players, and we’re working with our provincial shareholders towards this timeline to be able to provide this option in Atlantic Canada,” ALC’s Greg Weston said in an email before launch.

And, as for NS:

“Each province determines what products will be offered to players, and we will be sure to let players know when it becomes available.”

Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon

Together Yukon Lotteries Commission and Lotteries Yukon conduct and manage inter-jurisdictional lotteries in the Yukon. Nearby, Nunavut and Northwest Territories jointly operate NWT & Nunavut Lotteries. With smaller populations, Northern regions have less incentive to go out on their own.

So, the Territories only have access to single-event bets via WCLC’s Sport Select offerings.

Kahnawà:ke

Kahnawà:ke is something of a particular case.

The Mohawk Territory of Kahnawà:ke is a First Nations reserve located across from Montreal on the southwestern shore of the Saint Lawrence River.

Today, Kahnawà:ke operates more or less autonomously within Canada, and they express that autonomy in many ways. One that’s more notable is the operation of their regulated gambling industry.

Kahnawà:ke recognized opportunities in interactive gaming early, staking their claim by establishing the Kahnawà:ke Gaming Commission (KGC) in 1996. KGC is the official licensing and regulating authority for all gaming activity within and from the Nation.

On Jul. 8, 1999, the commission enacted its regulations for interactive gaming. Since then, it has, for the most part, effectively regulated interactive gaming—including single-event betting. KGC’s even been at it so long it’s one of the oldest online and land-based casino regulators still in operation.

KGC licenses many operators, including one very close to home. Sports Interaction is an online sportsbook that’s been in taking bets for more than two decades. Operated by Mohawk Online, a socio-economic initiative owned by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK), revenues help fund the Nation.

Technically, MCK, KGC, Mohawk Online, and Sports Interaction operate in conflict with Canadian law. But, in the more than two decades they’ve been doing it, they’ve never faced a legal challenge.

That said, when Bill C-218 was in debate in both the House and Senate, MCK asked for an amendment protecting Indigenous rights. Legislators ended up tacking on an amendment to protect horse racing from the destruction fixed-odds would bring. But Kahnawà:ke and other Indigenous interests were left to fend for themselves.

But, should a legal challenge ever come, Kahnawà:ke has a pretty solid case for inherent rights. And at this point, who would want to test it?

*with files from Katarina Vojvodic Zimonjic
Photo by Dreamstime.com
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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax with an awesome teen, a mischievous cat, and a penchant for good stories, strong tea, cheeseburgers, yoga, graveyards, hammocks, gardening, games, herb, and hoppy beer.

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