Rivalry Banking On Esports Betting To Compete With Ontario Gambling Giants

Written By Katarina Vojvodic on March 11, 2022 - Last Updated on June 30, 2022
Rivalry Esports Betting

When it comes to Ontario, expectations are the new online gambling market will generate substantial revenue for operators (and the province).

But how do smaller players, or those focused on niche-betting verticals, secure their piece of the pie?

For some Ontario sportsbooks, finding their way to the pot of gold might be more of a challenge than for others. Esports-focused operators Rivalry is one such example.

“This is going to be a highly competitive market, like any other in the world where we currently operate,” CEO Steven Salz told PlayCanada.

But, he’s quite optimistic about it:

“Our esports first approach, and being deeply embedded in internet culture as a brand, has allowed us to stand out from our competitors everywhere we operate, and we will be utilizing the same strategy here at home.”

More than 80% of the Toronto company’s betting handle comes from esports betting. Ontario could be a very welcome market for the operator, focusing on a brand with growth potential. In addition, Ontario will allow more esports betting than most live US markets right off the bat.

Ready to rollout iGaming to Ontario on April 4

Toronto-based Rivalry was among the first prospective operators and suppliers to apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. As reported, AGCO received the submission through its online service portal on Oct. 28.

The company officially announced AGCO approved its registration in early February. In the weeks leading up to launch, Rivalry will complete preparations for April 4.  On the docket: Signing a commercial agreement with iGaming Ontario, completing technology checks and more.

Along with its sports betting assortment, Rivalry will also offer Ontario its Rushlane Casino.

Salz is confident his company will easily build a presence in Ontario, delivering a differentiated experience to players.

“We have three main pillars, first, original content and media, second, a wide range of influencer marketing that is consistent with our brand approach and tonality, and third, bespoke in-person and digital activations that speak to our target demographic in a unique way,” he told PlayCanada in an email.

“The average customer on Rivalry is nearly a decade below that of a mature sportsbook, and everything we do from a product and marketing perspective is purpose-built for that generation.”

Younger crowd for Rivalry, esports betting

More than 98% of their customers are under 30. More precisely, Rivalry’s average customer is 25, but the company targets esports and sports fans under 30.

It’s a model that should play better in Ontario than it would, say, in the US. That’s because of the 19-year-old age requirement in the province compared to 21 in most US online jurisdictions.

Rivalry heavily focused on esports

Rivalry generates nearly 85% of its traffic and revenue through esports, primarily offering bets on events for League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2. The remaining 15% comes from sports betting, introduced last year.

Due to an Isle of Man license, Rivalry currently operates in the grey zone in more than a hundred different markets.

The company is not live in any US state yet, but Salz has said Rivalry is working on attaining licenses in regulated US markets.

The company will continue focusing on active markets in Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Southeast Asia until that happens.

The sky’s the limit in ‘22

Rivalry saw record results across multiple key performance indicators in October.

According to a Nov. 3 release, “betting handle of $12.8M was the highest monthly figure ever, exceeding the previous monthly high by more than 40% and the October 2020 (YoY) figure by more than 350%.”

The company also noted a 150% increase in total Rushlane wagers throughout Oct. 2021.

During the same period, Rivalry’s brand engagement grew, with nearly all of the company’s content channels seeing a 50% increase month-over-month.

These are the most recent numbers, as the company still hasn’t revealed its earnings for Q4 2021. For now, things are looking optimistic.

Photo by Shutterstock
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Katarina Vojvodic

Katarina is a Toronto-based online gambling writer who holds a master's degree in journalism. Before joining PlayCanada, she was part of the AskGamblers crew where she reported about the world of online casinos and interviewed numerous iGaming experts. Being in the industry for 5 years, she became an expert in online slots.

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