As the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) expands its footprint in Canada through an agreement with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) to power Saskatchewan’s regulated online gambling site, OpenBet is cultivating a long-term relationship with the lottery as its sports betting provider.
OpenBet’s Chief Commercial Officer, Cathryn Lai, discusses the challenges and opportunities she expects to face following this new partnership.
With the deal between the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority and BCLC now signed, what does this entail for both OpenBet and Canada in general?
Lai: OpenBet has evolved over the years, with different controlling groups and different leadership, but the one thing that has always stayed true is that it is an innovative, progressive organization. In my role as CCO, I have the opportunity to help OpenBet take that to the next level to be at the front line of driving online and land-based legalized gambling in Canada. OpenBet is excited to seal another tribe partnership with SIGA, allowing us to be a part of bringing online gambling to the people of Saskatchewan, and we feel we are well-placed to be the region’s sports betting partner of choice. There is set to be a lot of innovation in the sports betting space in Canada over the next few years and OpenBet will be at the forefront of that. It’s exciting to be part of an organization with such continued promise.
How does this partnership affect OpenBet’s relationship with BCLC?
Lai: OpenBet has a longstanding, positive relationship with BCLC and has helped to pioneer the digital landscape when it comes to government-regulated gambling in North America. Partnering with SIGA is testament to the organization’s commitment to being the top performer in a lot of categories in North American gambling. OpenBet has been BCLC’s sports betting platform provider for over a decade, and this move strengthens our relationship further. Moving forward, all of that know-how can be channelled into meeting the needs of customers in Saskatchewan.
What is your immediate focus in regards to the SIGA/BCLC partnership?
Lai: Our main priority will be ensuring the customer is well-positioned for success, shaping and guiding the way Saskatchewan builds up sports betting. We need to understand that sports betting is still comparatively quite an immature industry in North America, with leagues and customers just starting to adopt sports betting and recognising how much it can add to their viewing entertainment, but OpenBet’s experience will help newcomers like Saskatchewan to succeed – we were also a partner with BCLC in bringing online gambling to the people of Manitoba, so are well-placed to deliver what is needed. By moving quickly to understand the nuances of different territories, we can ensure that we’re serving operators, lotteries, and tribes the way they want to be served. This means making sure our technology, content, and services are delivered in a personalized way that meets their exact needs. This is especially important when you consider the top sports for bettors; differences in sport and live betting, and the way that plays out, are extremely important for us.
How important is SIGA’s role in the success Saskatchewan will see going forward?
Lai: SIGA has been a positive driving force for Saskatchewan since 1995, established as a non-profit entity to create opportunities and give back to local communities. The organization is dedicated to investing in economic opportunities that have a lasting impact, and this deal with BCLC represents just that. We’re proud to have formed another tribal partnership alongside SIGA.
How will this deal play out in terms of sports betting in Canada at large?
Lai: As has been the case with Ontario recently, the other provinces have been paying close attention to the level of performance displayed in different territories: how much of the market is displaying positivity with the legalized, licensed model, but also attempting to quantify how much remains in the grey market. This will continue to be the case with Saskatchewan; the success of the SIGA/BCLC partnership there will contribute to whether they make their own inroads into regulation.
What are OpenBet’s plans for Canada going forward?
Lai: OpenBet has a very strong historic presence in Canada, primarily with BCLC and also Loto-Québec, and can continue to replicate the successes we have seen over the years. We were the first regulated sportsbook platform provider to offer singles betting in Canada, and the recent SIGA deal is evidence of our continued efforts. We also work with the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and we need to explore more opportunities to work with the other jurisdictions as well. Generally, we will continue to observe how the market develops, in Canada and across North America, to make sure we’re ready to serve and help operators become extremely successful in their jurisdictions.