Ontario Gambling License Trends and Specifics
Author: Kris Olson Kris Olson, Expert Casino Reviewer & Journalist at CasinoRIX
Page Last Updated: October 22, 2023, 11:02 AM EET

Ontario Gambling License: A Look at the Latest Trends in the Market Specifics

After the Ontario gaming industry was regulated more than a year ago, various gambling enterprises have all changed to fit the market. But in the most competitive market in North America, how can operators differentiate themselves from competitors?

Prospectors keep track of all gold rushes.

Gambling companies of all sizes have taken a chance in the 16 months since Ontario’s gaming industry was regulated to capture a piece of the largest and most dynamic market in North America.

Former grey market participants aiming to move to regulated play, major European operators, media corporations that have developed a betting division, and land-based businesses trying to get a piece of the cake are just a few of the parties involved.

The Landscape

With 46 businesses operating 71 brands as of 2023’s first quarter, the gaming industry in Ontario has grown to be very competitive.

Its diversity is a trend to be cognizant of. This is especially remarkable when compared to the US, where its ring-fenced states sometimes deteriorate into a FanDuel-DraftKings duopoly thanks to stringent market entry regulations.

In Ontario, this is not the case.

The market leader is Bet365, closely followed by theScore bet operator Penn and Flutter, which operates the PokerStars and FanDuel brands. Smaller businesses follow, each capturing a sizable portion of the market.

This province became the largest single market in North America in terms of revenue in Q1 thanks to CA$14.0 billion in online wagers from 920,000 customers.

Grey market transition

While there are numerous similarities between the Canadian and US online gaming markets, there are also enough differences to categorically separate Canada as a different nation.  

Ontario had a booming offshore section before the market’s introduction on 4 April 2022, in contrast to the United States, where the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) passed in 2006 and effectively ended the grey market debate.

Many of these operators changed over to the white market after this date, which was the original purpose of the regulation

Ontario’s iGaming domination

iGaming wagers contributed $11.6 billion (83%) of Ontario’s total Q1 handling. Additionally, $392 million (72% of total sales) might be used to illustrate this.

Betting on sports is crucial to an operator in Canada since it enables them to direct customers to their more lucrative online gaming options. Each operator in this market has a case theory and a winning approach to compete.

Media-driven gaming vs sponsorship

Operators wishing to stand out have other options besides just offering their products. TheScore, for example, intends to profit from its relationship with sports fans since it was a sports media portal before it was a sportsbook or casino platform.

TheScore thinks that its status as a media company enables it to offer betting as a complement to the consumer’s preferred sports material. It claims that it accomplishes this in a way that no other operator could just by using sponsored media and partnerships.

However, a gambling company can interact with sports fans in other ways except by owning a media brand. Another tool is sponsorship.

Curling, for example. It may not be the most popular sport in the world at the moment, but over 30% of Canadians watch it. Therefore, making a sponsorship in this sport segment would be a chance to establish a direct connection with the 30% of Canadian sports fans who follow curling.

Explosive Increase: Ontario’s iGaming revenue surpasses Double in Q2

In the second quarter, Ontario’s online gambling revenue more than doubled to CA$540 million (£324 million, €375 million, US$395 million), while player expenditure soared by 132% in the Canadian province.

The second full quarter since the regulated market began in April 2022 saw total iGaming revenue in Ontario increase by 105% from $267 million in Q2 of the previous year.

Of this amount, Ontario’s online gambling industry contributed $407 million. Online poker brought in $16 million and online sports betting brought in another $118 million. All cash bets, rake, tournament, and other costs are covered by revenue without player wins.

Total player wagers on online games in Q2 came to $14.20 billion. This was a substantial increase above the $6.04 billion spent in Q2 of the previous year.

Customers spent $11.90 billion on online casinos, $1.90 billion on sports wagering, and $397 million on poker. Spending by players excludes promotional bets like bonuses and free bets.

Ontario: a growing iGaming market in Canada

The data, which was released by the regional gaming watchdog iGaming Ontario, also reveals a rise in the overall number of active operators. In Q2, there were about 47 licensed operators in Ontario, up from 24 the previous year.

During the quarter, consumers had access to 71 sites run by licensees, up from 42 in the second quarter of 2022.

In the meantime, the number of active player accounts rose from 628,000 to 943,000. Accounts of active players are those with recent cash or promotional wagering activity. They don’t represent distinct players because someone can have accounts with several different operators and websites.

Additionally, iGaming Ontario reported that in Q2 the typical monthly expenditure per active player account was $191. This was more than the $142 average spending that was published the year before.

Except for the provincial lottery corporations, which have a de facto monopoly, online gambling is not permitted in the remaining provinces of Canada. Therefore, Canadian authorities not from Ontario will not regulate NorthStar’s new dot-com enterprise.

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