With the King’s Plate just days away, Woodbine Entertainment has announced it has reached an agreement with bet365 to make horse racing available to online sports bettors for the first time.
Consequently, online sports bettors can now wager on Canada’s oldest thoroughbred horse race at Woodbine Racetrack in Etobicoke, Ontario, which also acts as the first race in the Canadian Triple Crown. This year’s $1m King’s Plate takes place on Sunday, Aug. 20.
As reported by the Canadian Press, under the terms of the non-exclusive deal, Woodbine will integrate its pari-mutuel racing product into bet365’s licensed Ontario sportsbook platform.
All racing offered on Woodbine’s HPIbet betting platform will now be available to bet365’s provincial customers.
Speaking during the King’s Plate draw at Woodbine on Wednesday, Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, said: “It’s a great relief.
“Although it’s been a long process, the federal and provincial governments, CPMA, Attorney General’s office, iGO and the AGCO have all been supportive…I understand we had to go through all of the appropriate channels.
“I won’t say there’s difficult legal concepts but certainly fresh, new legal concepts because you’re talking about new legislation, something very novel that’s never occurred before.”
But why choose bet365 over other operators?
“Bet365 was technologically very advanced,” Lawson explained. “Their origins were in horse racing, they have a big brand and it was a great fit with our intention to expose as many people out there to horse racing.
“They have a big platform and were willing to work with us. But it still took almost a year to work through the kinks in the technology to put that parimutuel system on to the back end of the platform.”
The goal is to get horse racing on other platforms as soon as possible, according to Lawson, who is optimistic the deal with bet365 will pave the way for other operators to add horse racing to their offerings.
“We’re going to be in a great position to move forward with as many other major sports-betting operators as possible,” he said. “I say major because those will be the ones that have the ability and know-how to integrate our technology like bet365 did.
“I’m also hoping and planning that we’ll be able to move this across the country. For example, the BC Lottery Corporation does sports betting but I’m sure they’ll be interested in offering horse racing as part of their gaming offerings.
“You could see it in Manitoba, you could see it in Quebec, you could see it across the country. You could see how it could grow across Canada. It would be great for horse racing.”