The opening up of the Canadian gaming market last month was one of the biggest developments in the gambling industry this year, and Ontario is widely regarded as the province which will lead further growth.
Speaking to the Big Betting Balagan Podcast, Paul Burns, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), outlined why Ontario is so important and what can be expected from the province.
“The province of Ontario is in the process of creating a regulatory regime for online gaming,” he began. “It’s going to be an open licencing system, which means anybody who wants to apply for licencing can. If you meet the bar you can join the marketplace.
“Ontario is really going to be the main market in Canada. It has almost 15 million people, it is the fifth largest market in North America – which is why it’s attracting a lot of attention – and it’s probably going to be the only open licensing system in North America. That provides a lot of opportunity.”
Although no regulatory or licencing standards have been released by the provincial authorities yet, an announcement is expected within the next 30 days, Burns detailed.
However, although the province will be by far the most lucrative of the Canadian jurisdictions, the market is not expected to open until 2021.
“I know from the casino operators in the province of Ontario that they want to open their sportsbooks by Labour Day if they can on their properties,” Burns continued. “There are still a few items to be worked out.”
Moving on to other jurisdictions, Burns highlighted Alberta, which is planning on potentially offering limited sports betting opportunities via casino partnerships, across both retail and mobile verticals,
Meanwhile, other provinces intend on sticking with the current state lottery system whilst observing the growth of the Canadian market. All other developments aside, Burns emphasised that Ontario ‘is going to be the competitive marketplace’.
Outside of Canada, another major story of the week concerned the announcement by Irish bookmaker Boyle Sports that it is interested in acquiring the non-US assets of William Hill, following the company’s acquisition by Caesars Entertainment.
“We know that Entain have thrown their hat in the ring,” said Lee Richardson, Co-Host of the Big Betting Balagan. “We obviously know about 888, who have talked about wanting to get both sides – retail and non-retail – and of course Apollo’s Management.
“I think with that number of people bidding for those assets they clearly will be in demand. One thing that you would absolutely know for people like John Boyle and Fred Done, is that there’s no way they’re going to overpay for anything – they understand that business really well.
“Whilst I think of course they’ll throw their hat into the ring, but I strongly suspect it will go for the top dollar and I think that will be an interesting battle to see.
“Caesars have clearly said that they’ve walked this off their books by the end of the year, so the next five or six months is going to be material to get that auction underway. It’ll be interesting to see where John and Fred and others actually fit.”