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Sports betting simplified
Ontario is the crown jewel for sportsbooks seeking to launch in Canada. The province is the country’s largest population, with an estimated 14.8 million residents. That would make it the fifth-most-populous US state, surpassing Pennsylvania’s 13 million residents. Only California, Texas, Florida, and New York have higher populations.
Pennsylvania sports betting ranks third in handle ($18 billion) and revenue ($1.4 billion) behind New Jersey and Nevada if you measure from the fall of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in May 2018 until the end of 2022, but of course that’s giving it a head start on many states.
Ontario also shares a border with Michigan. Legal online sports betting in Michigan launched in January 2021, and with Detroit close to Toronto, it likely caught the province’s attention.
Canadian Province of Ontario Sports Betting Overview
Before the launch of single-game sports betting in Canada in August 2021, some bettors used offshore sportsbooks to place wagers. Unfortunately, the legality behind this type of Canadian sports betting is grey at best. Many international sites operate sportsbooks that cater to Canadian sports bettors, but it takes revenue away from the Canadian government.
As a result, the Canadian government decided to legalize single-game sports betting to have better control over the market at large. When private sportsbooks entered the Canadian sports betting market on April 4, 2022, they did so as regulated operators with approval from the provincial government they’re working with.
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) serves as an interesting caveat to Canada's regulated sports betting market. Since the tribe is not under Canadian federal jurisdiction, the KGC can license sportsbooks without the government’s input. That said, operators licensed through the KGC need their servers to be hosted on their land and transactions must also occur through them. They operate in a similar grey area to offshore sportsbooks because the provincial or federal government does not regulate them.
Canadian Province of Ontario Sports Betting Timeline
This year, by the first anniversary of the launch of legal sports betting in Ontario, the province had 30 legal online sportsbooks. The province pulled in $35.6 billion in total wagers and $1.4 billion in total gaming revenue in the first year.
Ontario’s first full-service retail sportsbook, the Caesars Sportsbook at Caesars Windsor, opened officially to the public. The Caesars Windsor is the largest casino resort in Canada.
June 26, 2023 — Legislators introduced a bill proposing banning iGaming advertisements in Ontario. However, lawmakers cannot take up the legislation until this fall as the bill was introduced late in the spring session.
June 25, 2023 — The largest casino in Canada opened in Toronto on June 20. The Great Canadian Casino Resort is an expansion of the casino already at Woodbine Racetrack. The facility has sports betting kiosks and could be a larger sportsbook in the future.
June 14, 2023 — A recent report done by Deloitte indicated Ontario’s online gaming industry supports more than 12,000 full-time equivalent jobs and contributes almost $1.6 billion to the province’s GDP.
June 5, 2023 — John Fraser, interim leader for the Ontario Liberal Party, calls on the Ontario government to address the risks of online gaming advertising.
May 31, 2023 — Rivalry Corp. announced plans to launch an e-sports betting app in Ontario. The app will allow bettors to wager on many video games and traditional sports.
May 30, 2023 — The CEO of Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. said he would like to see a “better balance” of online sports betting and casino advertising in the province.
May 26, 2023 — STX, a tech company offering a real-time sports-betting exchange, was approved for launch in Ontario.
2022: At the end of January, iGaming Ontario announced that it anticipates launching online sports betting on April 4. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario approved online sportsbooks for launch in early 2022.
As planned, Ontario becomes the first province in Canada to open its borders to commercial sportsbooks. The April 4 launch date includes BetMGM and Caesars, with an expectation for more than two dozen online books in the province.
By the end of 2022, 27 sports betting sites had launched in Ontario.
2021: C-218 — the single-game sports betting bill — clears Parliament. The bill receives full House approval in April and passes the Senate in June 2021. Individual provinces handle their regulations, with an effective date of Aug. 27. At that point, many provincial lotteries offer betting.