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Has Ontario shaped gambling legislation for the rest of Canada to follow? 

Has Ontario shaped gambling legislation for the rest of Canada to follow? 

Published by Programme B

Roughly 7 months after the launch of legal sports betting in Ontario, there is much for people interested in the industry to talk about. One of the biggest topic points is whether the rest of Canada’s provinces and territories will look to develop frameworks like the one that has been set out by Ontario. While it’s too early to tell whether Ontario’s approach has worked or not, many will be looking to them, as the early pace setters in this unprecedented era of gambling related governance in Canada. 

What approach has Ontario taken? 

Ontario spent months to develop a watertight gambling framework, that has been tested by some of the biggest gambling operators to enter the fledgling market. Part of these frameworks included the removal of advertising inducements, which have has in turn left gambling operators, as well as the affiliates that market their services, scratching their heads. 

Another talking point is the AGCO’s disregard of any other offshore gambling licenses for operators to do business in Ontario. Only operators that have applied for, and have been granted, licenses may accept residents from Ontario. The AGCO did allow an adjustment period for unlicensed bookmakers to cease their operations, but promised to take action against any illegal operators after October 31st, 6 months after the market had launched with its new legal framework.

What have been the outcomes and/or implications?

Some implications from the launch of Ontario’s legal market have included the dissatisfaction of gaming providers, who have had to cease the advertisement for inducements. This practice, which is commonplace across the world of gambling, accounts for a large portion of gambling operator’s marketing strategies, along with player acquisition and retention. Instead, they have had to diversify their marketing, along with their products, to ensure that users become interested in their products. 

Another talking point has been that of Ontario’s government-run sports betting lottery product, Proline+, which saw several changes itself during the period of transition in the past year. Proline+ has had to vastly improve its product offerings in an attempt to remain competitive. One such example is that Proline had to launch a fully functioning sports betting app, to compete with the all the other betting apps in Ontario that are now legal for users to use. 

Another outcome, which is not talked about enough, is how the province managed to oversee a more than 60% revenue growth from the first quarter it was active, to the next. If these numbers are anything to go by, Canada’s other provinces and territories should be watching closely. 

What are other provinces planning? 

As it currently stands, only Saskatchewan has begun making their gambling legislation public for onlookers. What is interesting about this case however is that it looks from the offset to be  wholly different from what is being offered in Ontario. 

Saskatchewan has promised to launch a fully functional online gaming operator, developed and run by the state. The province has promised that this product will be of exceptional quality, and will simplify the iGaming market. 

While there’s no arguing with that, the usual measure of a rich, thriving iGaming market is variety, wherein users have the choice to try different gaming operators. If this singular state run gambling product were to fail, or require maintenance, Saskatchewan bettors would have nowhere to turn, which will inevitably incite a resentment amongst keen gamblers in the province. 

Closing thoughts

While plotting the different outcomes for each province based on whether they do or do not adopt Ontario’s gambling legislation can be interesting, it should be done with caution. Ontario is not quite like any other province in Canada. While the approach that has been taken has seemed to work quite well early on, other provinces in Canada should assess their own markets to forge an outcome that is best for them.

Photo by Olha Ruskykh –