More than half of Ontario sports bettors used grey-market apps pre-legalization

A new study has found that over half of current Ontario sports bettors used a grey-market mobile sportsbook before the province launched legal, regulated sports betting in April 2022.

The report by customer acquisition company Betting Hero, a FansUnite subsidiary, found that 51 per cent of Ontario bettors had taken advantage of the province’s large and longstanding grey market prior to the April 4 regulated launch date.

Betting Hero’s new sports betting study, conducted between May and June 2022, also found that one-quarter (25 per cent) of Ontario bettors said they would try a new sports betting app because of promotions. This is roughly half of the 51 per cent of New Jersey bettors and 49 per cent of New York bettors who said the same and is perhaps reflective of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s hard stance on prohibiting advertising of sign-up and inducement offers.

When it comes to the most popular sports betting platform in the province, nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) named longtime former grey-market operator and now regulated brand Bet365 as their platform of choice.

The study also revealed that payments have been the biggest customer headache for customers in the regulated Ontario market, with 31 per cent reporting that funding issues and slow withdrawal times have been the most frustrating obstacle they have faced.

“Betting Hero’s latest sports betting and iGaming assessment reveals that Ontario is understandably still grappling with its grey market past,” said Betting Hero President Jai Maw. “Sports bettors in Canada have noticeably different betting behaviours than their American counterparts. They’re less attracted to, and in many cases less aware of, available promotions and are seemingly more loyal to their preferred sportsbook.

“Unfortunately for new entrants to Ontario’s emerging legal sports betting market, that loyalty seems to be heavily weighted in favour of companies previously operating in Ontario’s grey market. Legacy U.S. and European sports betting companies entering Ontario could greatly benefit from tailoring their marketing and retention strategies to meet the unique needs of the Canadian consumer and regulatory environment.”

However, despite the differences, Canadian and U.S. consumers share an interest in betting on the same sports, with Ontario bettors expressing a preference for NFL football, NBA basketball, and NHL hockey.

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