We are in single-digit day territory until Ontario’s online gambling market launches, and preparations are down to the wire.
By now, players who placed futures bets on sportsbooks not operated by OLG may be getting worried. Most likely wonder what will happen to the wagers placed on games after Monday, April 4.
And that’s an entirely reasonable question.
Grey market operators serving Canadian players will have to exit the illegal market before the province’s official launch. Casinos and sportsbooks currently operating outside provincial law include bet365, Betway, Coolbet, Sports Interaction, Unibet and 888. Most of which are transitioning to becoming a legal sportsbook in Ontario.
But how will that transition impact players’ future bets?
What happens to wagers placed on future action before April 4?
Any wagers placed before April 3, 2022 (11:59 pm ET) will be null and void for Ontarian players on grey market sites.
So, if you happen to have a wager on Auston Matthews for Hart Memorial Trophy MVP, you’re out of luck. That ticket should get voided before April 4. The same goes for NHL Stanley Cup futures. While possibly cold comfort, you should also see a refund in your account.
That’s bad news if, say, you had Calgary winning the Stanley Cup in a preseason wager. The Flames were listed at 40/1 at sportsbooks before the season, but have had a nice run of late and were listed at 15/2 at bet365 Sportsbook on Friday.
So, a $20 preseason bet that wins $800 would be a nice value to have (that same $20 would get you $150 now). And now you have to take your $20 back and there’s no recourse.
The inverse of this is disappointing Montreal. The Canadiens were listed at 50/1 in preseason, and a bet for them to win the Stanley Cup today would be less than worthless.
Well, now you should get your $20 back, though a sportsbook could still call it a loser if they’re mathematically eliminated by April 4. But that would be a questionable move, especially when customers will now have lots more options to choose from very shortly.
Coolbet keeping players in the loop
Coolbet and Unibet have served Ontario players based on their Malta Gaming Authority license for a long time now. While not something traditionally enforced, that made the operators (and others like them) illegal in the eyes of Canadian law.
However, that is about to change as the Ontario government opens its market to licensed operators. Officials have also promised to crack down on operators who continue to flout the law.
So as of April 4, players will be required to verify their address and ID information on their accounts. Those located in Ontario will have to sign-up on the new legal apps and sites. But while there will be a noticeable difference in legal terms, players’ experience will remain the same.
Coolbet noted on their website on March 25: “all pending bets on Coolbet.com for Ontario users must be either resulted or voided.”
As explained on the casino’s website:
“Subject to the successful execution of an Operating Agreement with iGaming Ontario, Coolbet will begin operating on an iGaming Ontario license with the URL: www.coolbet.ca. Coolbet.com will no longer be available in Ontario.”
Unibet not running poker or bingo in Ontario
Unibet also blocked its current offerings in Ontario. Instead, the operator sends players to a dedicated version of its website and migrates their funds. That way, players can make withdrawals from Unibet Sports before the 4th. But, before that happens, operators must cancel any pending bets and return the funds to users’ accounts.
The operator also told Ontario customers via email they need to opt-in to the migration. Then, players must agree to the new terms and conditions and verify their identity under Ontario jurisdiction.
Unibet will not be running online poker and bingo in Ontario. Poker tickets or bingo vouchers need to be used by April 1.
Proline Plus Sportsbook customers will not be impacted
Since Proline Plus Spotsbook has been the lone regulated option in the province, their bets will not be impacted.
Futures or any regular placed before April 4 will still be valid after other regulated options launch.
A recap of who’s coming
At this point, it is helpful to know which online casinos and sportsbooks are getting the necessary approvals from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
So far, the operators below have received AGCO registrations and are waiting to sign agreements with iGO. The expectation is more will be announced in the coming weeks and months.
In other words, these are the operators that will soon start taking legal bets in Ontario:
- Royal Panda
But first, they must settle any offside action they’ve taken from Ontarians.
Out of the dark, into the light
The voiding of futures bets won’t concern players betting with operators with no intention of being regulated on Canadian soil. At least not yet.
However, if players bet with online casinos and sportsbooks not on the list, they may continue to do so without consequences. But to do so is taking a risk.
It’s crucial here to note offshore casinos and their sportsbook counterparts operate outside the law. They have no legal (provincial or federal) obligations. And players have little recourse if things go wrong. If anything does, players have no legal leg to stand on.
Players need to be aware of how the impending regulatory changes impact their play now and after April 4. Reconsidering gaming choices in light of the new regulations certainly makes sense. Making the switch now is the best way to avoid hiccups after the market opens.