Ontario’s bettors focus searches on licensed sportsbooks

The launch of the regulated online sports betting market in Ontario has changed the search behaviour of gamblers both in the province and across Canada, Google data indicates.

The arrival of regulated online sports betting in Ontario in April 2022 has had a major influence on what players are searching for, with Google data appearing to indicate that the province’s gamblers are now very much focused on finding licensed sportsbooks to bet with. 

In the first part of this feature, Canadian Gaming Business partnered with international iGaming affiliate Leadstar Media to analyze the change in search volumes for specific  sportsbook brands between the 12 months before and after the launch of Ontario’s regulated online gambling market.

In part two, Alex Goldstein of Leadstar’s Mybettingsites.com/ca examines how the debut of legal sports betting impacted the number of searches for head terms – the broad non-branded phrases players use while looking for information about Ontario’s sportsbooks.

This again involved a comparison of Google data from April 2021 – March 2022, with that of the first year of legal sports betting, April 2022 to March 2023. The head terms analyzed included ‘betting sites’ (searches from Ontario), ‘Ontario betting sites’ (searches from Ontario), ‘betting sites’ (searches from all of Canada), and ‘sports betting bonus’ (searches from Ontario).

Looking for licensed sportsbooks … and bonuses

  • Searches for ‘Ontario betting sites’ experienced an increase of 2,261% after regulation
  • All terms spiked in April 2022, the month of the launch, and have since levelled out
  • Despite getting a similar search result on Google, people living in Ontario tend to search specifically for ‘Ontario betting sites’ rather than just ‘betting sites’, indicating that people want to bet with a licensed operator 
  • Despite the restrictions on advertising inducements, there are still plenty of searches for terms around ‘sports betting bonus

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the publicity around the opening of Canada’s first regulated online sports betting and iGaming market resulted in a spike in interest from the public.

The data shows that the launch of legal sports betting in the province most affected the phrase ‘Ontario Betting Sites’, which experienced a 2261.22% year-on-year rise in search volume. There was also strong growth in people looking for sportsbook offers, with a 235% rise in the number of searches for ‘sports betting bonus’.

The one phrase analyzed that decreased was ‘betting sites’ (from Ontario), which saw an 8.27% fall in search volumes as local players appeared to focus their attention on the province’s licensed sportsbooks. However, Google data showed that the number of searches for ‘betting sites’ from the whole of Canada climbed by 51.79% during the first year of the regulated Ontario market. 

Goldstein said: “The 51.79% increase in the search term ‘betting sites’ in all of Canada shows that the launch of legal sports betting has possibly influenced search in all of Canada along with Ontario. 

“One interesting thing to note is how search behaviour has changed around searches looking for betting sites from Ontario. Search for ‘Ontario betting sites’ experienced the most significant growth in Ontario among the phrases we analyzed, while the phrase ‘betting sites’ (searches from Ontario) was the only phrase to decrease. 

“Another thing to note is that despite the limitation on advertising inducements, Ontario users are still interested in finding information about sports betting bonuses, as searches related to them have also grown significantly.” 

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