Ontario expands sports betting field with bwin, Party brands

Updated April 21

Ontario’s regulated online gaming and betting market continues to take shape during its first couple of weeks after opening on April 4.

When the market went live near the start of the month, 13 private operators were ready to launch immediately having previously been registered and licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and having executed an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario (iGO).

Since then, the field has expanded further, with Entain’s Austrian betting brand bwin and “Party” network both granted the right to go live as of April 12.

iGO’s list of licensed operators includes bwin and three “party”-brand sites: on.Partypoker.ca, on.Partycasino.ca, and on.Partysports.ca. That means Entain now has three prongs of attack in Ontario, with BetMGM part of the initial wave of licensed operators.

Others will follow in the weeks to come.

Entain could make it an Ontario quartet, according to a Wagers.com report which suggests its Sports Interaction brand has applied for a license in the province.

Meanwhile, according to iGaming Business, the AGCO says that Betway, which received its registration on April 18, was the 30th operator licence awarded in the province. Once Betway is licensed by iGO, it could make a big splash in the Ontario market; a report from Morgan Stanley concluded that the brand accounted for the highest percentage of iGaming and sports betting smartphone app downloads in Ontario on a month-by-month basis for the whole of last year and represented one-third of all gambling app downloads in the province as recently as February.

NorthStar Gaming has also been registered by the AGCO as an online gaming operator, meaning the launch of its gaming platform NorthStar Bets now seems imminent once it executes an operating agreement with iGO.

RELATED: theScore Bet, Bet365 leading Ontario sportsbook app downloads

More, such as US industry giant DraftKings, will likely follow by joining bwin and co. in the market, going through a seven-step process with both the AGCO and iGO to receive a license, adding more and more layers to an already fiercely competitive provincial market. Sports Handle reports that more operators should be fully licensed during the week of April 25 and another group of operators is expected to enter the market in May.

“We are just seeing a lot of excitement,” Mitchell Davidson, the chief of staff of iGO, told the Toronto Star. “On Day 1, we had 12 operators, 13 brands and 17 websites. That’s a lot of variety, a lot of consumer choice, and we are in the process of onboarding more operators.”

In addition, dozens of suppliers are live and providing games to those licensed suppliers.

Toronto-based Bragg Gaming is supplying to operators including 888; Evolution is working with numerous licensed operators such as BetMGM, LeoVegas, Rush Street Interactive’s BetRivers, and theScore Bet; Gaming Realms is working with the likes of Rush Street Interactive, BetMGM, and Kindred.

Numerous others are also active, including Vancouverian company FansUnite, Kambi, Scientific Games’ Light & Wonder rebrand, Everi, FSB, Playtech’s Quickspin, Aspire’s Wizard Games, and many more.

In such a saturated field, many of these brands are turning to high-profile partnerships with sports stars, franchises, leagues, and broadcasters as a way to attempt to get a leg up on the competition.

Some examples of those partnerships include FanDuel and BetMGM being named the NHL’s first North American sports betting partners of the NHL as the league expands its sponsorship into Canada; Toronto sports franchise conglomerate Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment striking deals with FanDuel and PokerStars, as well as PointsBet Canada; theScore Bet adorning Rogers Centre with its branding and offerings as the exclusive gaming partner of the Toronto Blue Jays; and FanDuel linking up with TSN.

Meanwhile, Connor McDavid has become the first active major-league sports star to partner with a legal sportsbook in Canada through a deal with BetMGM, and NorthStar has signed up veteran Canadian sports broadcaster Rod Black as a host and brand ambassador.

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