Ontario has been the market that everyone has had their eyes on over the last few months. And with the province presenting a whole host of new opportunities for European betting companies to expand their North American footprint, it’s no surprise that BetGames has identified this market as the next stop on its global expansion journey.
BetGames CEO Andreas Koeberl discusses the company’s plans for the Canadian market and the experience in getting live dealer, betting games and lottery authorized by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
Congratulations on taking BetGames live in Ontario! What are your plans for the market and what BetGames verticals are you planning to showcase to Canadian players?
Thank you! It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point, but we feel we have the right line-up of innovation-driven live entertainment products that will really cut through the noise in the market and make a real impact.
Initially, we’ll be bringing TWAIN SPORT, our live-action sports betting product and ShowGames, which is our newest baby and biggest most ambitious project yet to Ontario. The latter is currently exclusively available to Entain and will see two more games next year that will also serve their Ontario facing brands.
Both are incredibly exciting line ups with unique offerings that will target the new generation of casual players who value short-form, live-action.
Why was Ontario selected as the ‘market of choice’ for BetGames’ North American expansion?
The feedback we’ve had from both international bookmakers and local lotteries led us to prioritize Canada for our first foray into North America. It has a fast-growing basketball betting landscape which makes TWAIN SPORT’s launch game, T-Basket a perfect fit.
There are also several logistical and practical reasons, specifically relating to modern, rapidly growing verticals like live entertainment. For example, in the US you need to build local studios, and operate from there whereas Canada allows you to leverage your existing – in our case European – studios. Us being able to reach players more rapidly is just one of the advantages to beginning our North American journey in Ontario.
As markets continue to open up south of the border in the US, we should see investment levels rise accordingly and we’ll be in a great place to consider our move there too, having already been operating successfully in Ontario. It’s something we’ve seen other smaller suppliers do and we’re looking to replicate that success.
Looking at the regulatory process, what’s been your experience in getting live dealer, betting games and lottery authorized by the AGCO?
From the time we’ve spent doing our due diligence, we’ve seen a huge appetite for game shows and TWAIN SPORT in Ontario across most operators including local lotteries. What makes the environment even more appealing is that the AGCO seems to be a very sensible regulator, open-minded and interested in dialogue, which is extremely refreshing.
The landscape is welcoming, attuned to business growth and the demand is there too, so our next step is to push on with the rollout. We already have our BetGames Classic titles live with a handful of operators and the results are encouraging, despite player focus traditionally being on more established product lines, but with time and the right positioning, we’re confident that our products will develop an increased foothold and thrive especially in cross selling from sports into casino.
One of BetGames’ strongest selling points has been providing a fixed-odds format for casino – making sports fans feel right at home. Do you see that same potential for Canada?
Definitely. While the classic products still account for the majority of game sessions, the live vertical also does very well with roulette (including roulette-based game shows), blackjack and baccarat leading the way.
It is a rapidly developing market and I think we will see some shifts towards casual, more entertainment-focused games and as a sports-crazy nation, this gives us a real edge with massive cross-selling opportunities across our product lines.
Our roots are in that area and as such, we’ve historically enjoyed great success in that core offering but as we’re one of only a few that are catering to next-gen demand as well, we’re confident that we’ll be able to see success in providing the products that aren’t available elsewhere.
When it comes to market potential – how do you see the regulated gaming scene developing in Ontario over the next 12 months?
With the high player value that exists there, I would expect to see the current high interest in the market continuing until at least late 2023. Then probably, like with all high-potential markets, we will see some consolidation.
A huge positive for us is that we offer a complementary portfolio that allows operators to differentiate, and we give them products to cross-sell catering to sports bettors and casual casino players, so I don’t see the push from operators and suppliers leveling off in the next 12 months.
Ontario, and Canada, with its market conditions and resulting competition-friendly environment, offers a fantastic platform for growth and we intend to ensure we are an integral part of it.