BetMGM Provides Insight to Sports Betting North of the Border
Long before the US Supreme Court opened the door to expanded legal sports betting in this country, Canada offered legal sports betting through government-owned lottery corporations across every province.
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The one big caveat to the Canadian sports betting industry was how you could bet on the games. Prior to a significant change in Canadian law last August, the only legal way to bet on sports was through multi-team parlays. The new law paved the way for legal betting on single games.
With the new law in place, provincial-run lottery companies were slow to implement the change in the actual marketplace. Just because you could legally bet on tonight’s big game did not automatically create the ability to place that wager.
As Canada’s most populated province, Ontario took a proactive approach to the situation. Along with PROLINE+ as the sports betting platform connected to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), Ontario opened up its marketplace to commercial sportsbook operators such as BetMGM.
The changeover took some time to implement but Ontario’s commercial sportsbook and iGaming industry went live on April 4 of this year. Two and half months later, we are starting to get our first look at sports betting north of the border.
Ontario gaming regulators have yet to release any specific sports betting statistics and data. However, BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt relayed some interesting observations during the 2022 Canadian Gaming Summit held in Toronto earlier this month.
As a licensed commercial sportsbook in the province of Ontario, BetMGM recorded 70 million transactions during the month of May. The company CEO’s reaction to that figure included the following comments:
“It tells us that there is a receptive audience. It is a high conversion rate, higher than many US states…relatively higher average bet size on sports betting. Between conversion and bet size, the early performance has been a surprise on the upside.”
Greenblatt’s comments at the Canadian Gaming Summit were met with a welcomed sense of relief. Due to this year’s provincial election on June 2, Ontario gaming officials have remained rather tight-lipped on the early performance numbers.
Representatives from iGaming Ontario and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario have held off from releasing any actual results. Although, both have stated that a full report is in the works.
Greenblatt was also quick to point out the difference between sports bettors in legal US markets and Ontario sports bettors. Those comments included:
“In the US, you see an initial pump, a latent demand looking for somewhere to go. In Ontario, there was a much more progressive build, because most players were previously served, which has been a specific challenge to entice players from pre-existing options.”
BetMGM needed to make a heavy investment in advertising for the company’s rollout in Ontario. However, provincial laws restrict advertising specific promotional offers to add to the challenge. The other issue at hand is the overall number of commercial sportsbook operators entering the Ontario marketplace. Moving forward there could be as many as 73 mobile sportsbook operators in this province.
To create a strong point of difference among the various operators with Canadian sports bettors in general, BetMGM created strategic partnerships with the NHL and the sport’s greatest player ever Wayne Gretzky. Stepping way out of the box, BetMGM also signed current NHL superstar Connor McDavid as a brand ambassador.
Both Major League Baseball and the NHL do not have any restrictions in place when it comes to active players partnering with US-based sportsbook operators.
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