Ontario’s online casino and sports betting market just turned one. We’ve seen some successes during that first year, but there’s plenty of room for improvement.
The province reached the milestone at 12:01 a.m. on April 4, marking the end of a year of growth and growing pains. Simultaneously, it offers starting point for everything yet to come.
You could say that the market is officially entering its toddler years. Much as it is for a human toddler, this will be a period of learning and growth for Ontario.
Editor’s Note: Since Ontario is a Canadian market, dollar values are given in Canadian currency, with US conversions mentioned parenthetically. iGO cautions that its numbers are “unaudited and subject to adjustment.”
Ontario’s First Year by the Numbers
Numbers released by iGaming Ontario (iGO) on the market’s birthday indicate that Ontario gamblers wagered $35.6 billion (US $26.5B) with private operators over the past 12 months, not counting bets made with promotional credit. Those companies collected $1.4 billion (US $1B) in gross revenue, returning $34.2 billion (US $25.4B) in player winnings, for an aggregate hold of4%.
The market has grown to include over 43 operators and 74 sites. That’s considerablymore than even New Jersey, the longest-running and most crowded online casino market in the US. In the first year, players in or visiting Ontario opened over 1.6 million active accounts with those regulated operators.
That list of operators includes the market’s latest entry, NeoBet by Reactive Betting. However, it doesn’t include the casualties of the first year. Coolbet, Play-On Casino, and Play-On Mansionall threw in the towel before reaching the market’s anniversary.
Coolbet’s owner, GAN Ltd., cited Ontario’s steep competition as a driving reason behind its retreat during a recent investor call.
As CEO Dermot Smurfit said last week:
For those markets where we don’t see a clear and rapid path to profitability outside of Latin America, we will pull back resources and/or exit those markets.
To that end, we have exited the Ontario market described by some industry experts as the most competitive market in the world.
Ontario Online Gambling Sees Strong First-Year Growth
Ontario differs from US markets in that those private sector operators compete directly with similar products offered by the provincial lottery.
In FY 2021-2022,Ontario Lottery and Gaming (OLG)reported record-setting gross revenueof approximately $427 million (US $317M). Adding this to the private sector numbers, we get a total market of$1.8 billion(US $1.3B).
The lottery expects further growth in the current year. Meanwhile, quarterly revenue breakdowns in the privatized market show it is growing explosively.
iGO hasn’t yet released official figures for the latest quarter. However, according to its audited reports, Ontario’s private operators brought innearly $886 million (US $660M) through the first three quarters. Subtracting that from the full-year total implies $514 million(US $383M) in gross revenue for the latest quarter.
That’s approximately a 12% increase from $457 million (US $340M) in the market’s third quarter (i.e., Q4 2022).
As the markets stabilize post-launch, we should expect growth to slow. But how soon that will happen and whether the impending seasonal sports lull will have a dampening impact is unclear.
Things are Good, but They Could be Better
Revenue numbers aren’t the only positive metrics backing Ontario’s decision to regulate.
In October, the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) won the Regulatory Excellence Award from the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR). The win recognized AGCO’s work developing and implementing Ontario’s new online market.
Additionally, several operators, including PointsBet Canada and theScore, established Ontario-based operations, so investments like office space and salaries can be attributed back to Ontario’s online regulation.
However, it’s not necessarily all sunshine and roses. Humans rarely get things right the fifth time, let alone the first.
More than a few elements of Ontario’s online gambling experiment could use tweaking. However, what those things are and how they should change likely vary depending on who you ask.
Here are a few ways I hope the Ontario online gambling industry evolves as it finds its feet.
Reporting and Transparency are not AGCO and iGO’s Strongsuit
I’m far from the last to be left wanting more information and transparency from AGCO and iGO.
This issue figured prominently in today’s Gaming News Canada report on the anniversary.
I wholeheartedly with GNC’s Steve McAllister that AGCO and iGO should be more open to answering questions from journalists. AGCO has even temporarily blacklisted some affiliate news sites (including at least one belonging to Bonus’s owner, Catena Media) for unspecified infractions.
Additionally, the information iGO provides in its quarterly revenue reports is very sparse compared to US regulators. There’s great interest, from various sides, in monthly numbers and a more thorough breakdown beyond the total market handle, revenue, users, and average spend.
Fortunately, there have been suggestions that future reports may include more detail. That could include data like operator market share and revenue by vertical, though no specifics have materialized.
Hopefully, AGCO and iGO will read the room and make more effort to communicate effectively with the media and the public. Doing so can only benefit the industry.
We Need Innovation in Responsible Gambling Strategy
Don’t get me wrong, Ontario did many things right when considering responsible gambling.
While I still believe banning all public advertising of bonuses or promotions makes players work harder to find the perks best for them, it’s a stand that sends a strong message about the importance of RG and player health.
Requiring all operators to get accredited by the Responsible Gambling Council’s RG Check goes a step further. And in combination with self-exclusion and time and spending limits, these tools and more create a solid RG foundation.
This is less a gripe about Ontario and more a wish for the global gambling industry.
The tools above are a great starting point, but they shouldn’t be where our commitment to advance responsible play ends.
And, as positive as the FanDuel and BetMGM announcements pledging to include RG messaging in all future ads, at this point, doing as much should be an industry standard.
Perhaps there’s a good reason I haven’t considered, but from the outside, I don’t understand why operators wouldn’t take the RG lead. Establish robust industry standards, and implement them in every legal operating jurisdiction regardless of local regulations.
The only tweaks necessary would be tightening specific conditions where required.
The industry must underestimate the potential positives of such leadership not to give RG momentum more attention.
Exciting research has opened up possibilities to better steer the industry and individuals toward new standards for sustainable, responsible play.
Unfortunately, legislators are considering over-corrections like banning advertising instead of courting this evolution in some jurisdictions.
And instead of working to avoid these reactions, much of the industry has its head in the sand.
Channelization Efforts Aren’t Complete
Unlike Clairol’s ad campaign from the 1950s, Ontario hasn’t “washed all the gray out.”
Yes, regulated operators have put a significant dent in the offshore market. However, many Ontarians still use these former gray market sites, which AGCO now considers a black market.
Yesterday, AGCO released the results of a study conducted by Ipsos that showed 85.3% of respondents who gambled online in Ontario over the past three months played on regulated sites.
By contrast, 70% of online gambling occurred on unregulated sites before the privatized market debuted last April.
However, there’s an important caveat here. That 85.3%includes19.5%of respondents who did a mixture of legal and illegal gambling.
Framed differently, we can say that34%of Ontario’s online gamblers still use offshore sites. That compares unfavorably to a similar report by Pennsylvania State University. That study found that only 13.3%of Pennsylvania online gamblers were using black market sites, including those who also used legal sites.
That said, Pennsyvlania’s market launched in 2019, so it has a significant head start on Ontario. Still, there’s considerable room for improvement in Ontario, where black market operators like Bodog continue advertising on television, using play money dot-netsites to promote their real money brands.
First Nations Interests Habitually Ignored
First Nations rights are an issue bigger than the province of Ontario.
The relationship between Indigenous people and the Canadian government is a fraught one. Our national history includes broken promises, violence and genocide.
In many ways, the present-day relationship between First Nations and Canadian citizens isn’t much better.
Regarding gambling, the federal and Ontario provincial governments have repeatedly passed up opportunities to do better and honor the principles of reconciliation. As a result, the gambling industry faces multiple legal challenges led by First Nations groups.
One challenge, mounted by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawà:ke (MCK), questions the legitimacy of Ontario’s entire online framework.
That case is complicated and won’t move forward until February 2024. The outcome is critical to Kahnawà:ke because the community depends heavily on revenues from operating its historic online gambling industry.
The MCK first established the Kahnawà:ke Gaming Commission (KGC) in 1996. Ever since, KGC has been licensing and regulating online and land-based gaming within and from traditional lands found south of Montreal, Quebec.
However, MCK felt forced to pull its longtime online gambling site, Sports Interaction, from Ontario a few months after the market launch. A little later, Entain, which had recently purchased Sports Interaction’s owner, Avid, relaunched Sports Interaction in Ontario through a subsidiary, Electraworks Maple Ltd.
MCK still operates the Sports Interaction brand in other Canadian provinces and territories. However, the retreat has affected Kahnawà:ke’s bottom line.
Can Ontario Raise the Bar?
Perhaps it’s naive, but I think a better gambling industry in Ontario and beyond is possible. The goal should be to do business responsibly without relying so heavily on courts and regulatory intervention.
But getting there will take effort, and whether the industry is up to the task remains to be seen.
If nothing else, April 4 offers us a chance to reflect and take stock of where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go.
Let’s not waste the opportunity.
OLG.CA. To renew a break on OLG.ca, all you need to do is call OLG Player Support at 1-855-978-7529.Can you ban yourself from a casino in Ontario? ›
Self-Exclusion in Ontario
It's a program you enter voluntarily, and you agree not to visit certain gaming locations in Ontario, or play on OLG.ca for a chosen period of time. The My PlayBreak program is a tool you can use when you want to take a break from gambling.
Gambling is a regulated activity in Canada that is only legal when it is managed by a provincial government. The BC Lottery Corporation manages and conducts all commercial gambling, including online gambling, in this province on behalf of the B.C. government.How fast is online gambling growing? ›
Report Overview. The global online gambling market size was valued at USD 63.53 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.7% from 2023 to 2030.Why is online gambling high risk? ›
Online gambling was found to be especially vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing, with this risk being classed as “very high” – the highest possible risk level.Can you undo self-exclusion? ›
If you selected the lifetime option for self-exclusion, you cannot remove yourself from the list.Can you reopen account after self-exclusion? ›
If you wish to re-open your account you can do so when your self-exclusion has expired. You will need to contact us by phone on 0333 241 26 36, and then enter into a mandatory 24 hour cooling-off period before being able to gamble.How long does self-exclusion last? ›
Self-exclusion means asking a gambling provider to exclude you from gambling with them for a length of time, usually between six and twelve months but this can be for up to five years for online gambling.How do I get rid of self-exclusion at casino? ›
The Self-Exclusion will remain in force until it is revoked successfully. How do I apply to revoke? Please log in with your Singpass to proceed with your Self-Exclusion Revocation application. If you require assistance on how to submit your application, you may contact NCPG at 6354 8154.Can a casino blacklist you? ›
In the case of gaming control boards, people listed are generally suspected of having, or known to have, ties to organized crime. Casinos are obliged by regulations to exclude all such people from entry and can be subject to sanctions for failure to do so.
- Online Service: File a Criminal or Regulatory Complaint.
- Email: Gaming.Branch@gov.bc.ca.
- Phone (Victoria): 250 387-5311.
- Phone (Greater Vancouver): 604 660-0245.
- Phone (Kelowna): 250 861-7363.
- Phone (Prince George): 250 612-4122.
In short, Canadian nationals are only allowed to play online gambling on online casino's through offshore websites. By contrast, U.S. citizens can't gamble on offshore websites or sportsbooks.How is online gambling different in US and Canada? ›
The Legality of Online Gambling
The first and most crucial difference in online gambling between the two countries is how the laws surrounding online betting work. While the US is stringent in this area and doesn't allow for any loopholes, Canadian laws have a grey area that players can take advantage of.
It's the unpredictability of the game itself. The elements of statistical variance are the number one reason why gamers may keep losing money online, and the primary way these casinos make money. It's always heads or tails. Both have a 50-50 chance.Can you make a living online gambling? ›
If you need another source of income, online casinos are one of the options you could consider. You can gamble on anything, but there are specific tips that could make you win. Even if you don't win at first, they'll boost your chances of winning eventually.What is the biggest online gambling win? ›
Norway player in Arabian Knights
The player went to the Betsson casino in 2011 and decided to test his luck in a game that many thought did not give very high payouts. As fate would have it, and by sheer luck, the player managed to hit the jackpot and win an incredible $17.3 Million.
Compulsive gambling is a behavioral disorder that alters the structure of the brain, and there may be many motivations to gamble. For many, gambling is a pleasant activity that serves as a distraction to the stresses of their daily lives, and they aren't too focused on whether they win or lose.Is online gambling rigged? ›
On a virtual platform that you are unfamiliar with, you place your hard-earned money at risk. In addition, you might be wondering if online casinos are legitimate, or are they rigged in order to make you lose? The answer is that regulated and licensed online casinos are legitimate, safe places to play.How does online gambling affect the brain? ›
Like addictive drugs such as cocaine, heroin, nicotine and alcohol, gambling activates the brain's reward system, which is powered by dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter inside the brain that reinforces sensations of pleasure and connects those sensations to certain behaviors or actions.How do I stop my online gambling addiction? ›
- Understand the Problem. You can't fix something that you don't understand. ...
- Join a Support Group. ...
- Avoid Temptation. ...
- Postpone Gambling. ...
- Find Alternatives to Gambling. ...
- Think About the Consequences. ...
- Seek Gambling Addiction Help.
Responsible Gambling Refund
However, it's much more complex than losing money at an online casino and then asking the casino for a refund. Although casinos have a duty to prevent gambling addiction and protect their players, they are not legally required to offer gambling refunds.
Self-exclusion. Self-exclusion typically involves asking a gambling operator, casino or betting shop, for example, to exclude you from gambling with them over a set period of time. This means that you will be refused service at the locations, online and offline, from which you are self-excluded.Can you open a second self account? ›
If you had a good experience and love saving money while building credit, then a second Self Credit Builder Account could be the right option for you. It could also be a great choice if you don't need a different installment loan (such as a car loan) and want to keep a healthy credit mix on your credit report.Can you get a closed account reopened? ›
It may be possible to reopen a closed credit card account, depending on the credit card issuer, as well as why and how long ago your account was closed. But there's no guarantee that the credit card issuer will reopen your account. For example, Discover says it won't reopen closed accounts at all.Does self-exclusion affect credit rating? ›
It is also important to remember that seeking help, including self-exclusion, is not an admission of guilt nor is it a statement of having gambling debt. What's more, the self-exclusion services are confidential and using them will not affect your credit score.What happens if you self-exclude? ›
Self-exclusion (or self-banning) is a voluntary process where a person with a gambling concern excludes themselves from areas of specific gambling venues, or online providers. It can provide a concrete tool to help keep you safe from excessive gambling.What happens to open bets when you self-exclude? ›
During a period of Self-Exclusion you will not be able to use your account for betting and gaming, although you will still be able to login and withdraw any remaining balance. It will not be possible to re-open your account for any reason, and bet365 will do all it can to detect and close any new accounts you may open.What is the fixed period for a self-exclusion agreement? ›
The exclusion goes into a period of review for six months after the initial 12-month period. During this time the exclusion remains in place unless you notify us of a wish to return to gambling or you tell us you wish to renew your exclusion for a further year. We manage these requests on 0800 294 2060.Can I gamble online if I self excluded? ›
The term self-exclusion describes a process in which an individual requests to be excluded from legalized online gaming within a specific operator or region. Once you are enrolled in a self-exclusion program, you are unable to access an online casino site.Can you exclude yourself from online gambling? ›
It's called self-exclusion or voluntary exclusion. Self-exclusion programs are run through each state's gaming enforcement department, and put you on a list that will prevent you from signing up or logging in at any online sportsbook or casino.
While you can restrict your exposure to gambling triggers, you will not be able to avoid them completely, which is why it is important to learn ways of managing the urges.What gets you banned from a casino? ›
Actions like being rude to servers or dealers, sexually harassing other visitors or drinking too much are likely to end with you being escorted off the premises by casino security.Can online casinos ban you for winning? ›
The short answer is yes. Like you mentioned, casinos can back off players or decline play from players either on a single game, like Blackjack, if they suspect card counting like in your example, or ban a player from a casino altogether.Who polices online casinos? ›
US Online Casino Regulators
Online casino regulation in the United States is handled by each individual state. The vast majority of states have their own department or division of gaming within the government while some have independent racing and gaming commissions.
You can report online gambling to the FBI. Live gambling that violates state law should be reported to the appropriate state authority – typically a gaming commission or illegal gambling task force within state law enforcement.Are US casino winnings taxable in Canada? ›
Did you know that Canadians can recover taxes on U.S. gambling winnings? The IRS can tax all gambling winnings such as Keno, slot machines, bingo, lotteries, etc. As a Canadian who is not residing in the U.S., the tax rate is 30%.Is online gambling taxed in the US? ›
Online winnings are fully taxable so you must report gambling winnings, even those that didn't have tax withheld. You might be able to deduct gambling losses. So, keep a record so you are able to report gambling winnings and deduct gambling losses with accuracy.What country is the easiest to get an online gambling license? ›
Easy and hassle-free
This is not the case in Curacao. There are still requirements that need to be met, but the amount of bureaucracy is limited meaning it's much less of a headache for those that apply for a gaming license. Curacao remains as perhaps the quickest and easiest jurisdiction to get a gaming license from.
Yes - it's safe to play online casino games with licensed Canadian online casinos. Players can engage in sports betting, spin their favorite video slots, and enjoy live casino games online.Can Americans bet in Canada? ›
Yes, sports betting is legal in Canada. In August 2021, Canadian lawmakers amended the nation's Criminal Code to allow for single-game sports betting via C-218. The key to understanding the law is that by itself, it did not make sports betting legal throughout Canada.
The prospect of Canadian immigration is seen as much more beneficial than immigration to Mexico or countries in Europe and the Caribbean. Firstly, online betting is legal in Canada and there are no current movements to illegalize it, which is a primary motive for American gamblers to seek out Canadian immigration.How much does the average online gambler lose? ›
Despite the low salaries, the callers reported that they lost an average of $21,500 a year. The annual survey, taken by the members of Gamblers Anonymous who answer the phones, also shows that one-third of the callers this year made less than $25,000 and 16 percent were unemployed.How do you recover from a big gambling loss? ›
Take a Step Back
Instead of continuing to gamble in an attempt to remedy your losses, consider taking up a new, productive activity. For example, physical activity such as taking a walk, going to the gym, or gardening may help you keep your mind off of your debt.
The Bible warns us against the compulsion to strike it rich. As 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.What is the average age of an online gambler? ›
US online gamblers are younger than the global average
Consequently, the age distribution of online gamblers in the US is at the younger end of the scale than in other countries, with 52% in the 18-34 age range.
⭐️ Best Payout Online Casinos with the Highest RTP.
|🏆||Rainbow Riches Casino||RTP: 95.97%|
|🏆||Megaways Casino||RTP: 96.01%|
|🏆||Aztec Wins Casino||RTP: 96.00%|
While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $117,500 and as low as $18,500, the majority of Professional Gambler salaries currently range between $30,000 (25th percentile) to $62,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $98,000 annually across the United States.Has anyone won big on online slots? ›
Arabian Knights. The biggest sum that has been ever won in this slot game is 17.3 million dollars. The Norwegian gambler could get it in 2011 in Betson casino. It was a popular entertainment of that time, but nobody expected that such a big jackpot as an online casino win is possible.Has anyone won big on online gambling? ›
Has anyone won big from online gambling? The largest sum is 23.6 million dollars won by the Belgian at Napoleon Sports & Casino in April of 2021. It is a game adaptation of Alice in Wonderland. This version has 5 reels and 243 ways to win.What gambling games have the highest chance of winning? ›
Blackjack has the best odds of winning in any game, with a 49% chance of winning. The reason blackjack is so appealing to players is that it is not a game of luck, but rather one based on numbers.
Don't bet more than 1% of your household income before tax per month. For example, someone with a household income of $70,000 before tax should gamble no more than $58 per month. This table shows how much you can gamble each month to follow this guideline.Why do gamblers rarely win? ›
Each game you play at a casino has a statistical probability against you winning, which makes gambling an inadequate option for those looking to boost their income. While the house advantage varies for each game, it ultimately helps ensure that the casino won't lose money over time.What are the 3 types of gamblers? ›
There are three common types of gambler, the professional gambler, the social gambler, and the problem gambler.Why is online gambling worse? ›
It's More Addictive
Since you don't have to go anywhere in order to have access to online gambling literally at your fingertips, it is that much harder to quit. There's not much stopping you from gambling at work, school, or on the bus ride home.
- Caesars. 97.8% <48 hours. 100+ 88 Fortunes. $100 match + $10 free.
- FanDuel. 96.27% < 48 hours. 350+ Divine Fortune. $1,000 risk-free play + $100 free.
- Ocean. 96.71% < 72 hours. 325+ Wheel of Fortune. ...
- BetMGM. 98.3% < 72 hours. 800+ MGM Grand Millions. ...
- bet365. 96.15% < 48 hours. 660+ 88 Fortunes. ...
Now to the question of the day, 'do online casinos track your IP address?' The short answer is, Yes, they do. Most local-based casino websites are mandated by the law of the country they're operating to track and store players' IP addresses for audit purposes.Should I chase my gambling losses? ›
Chasing losses is never a good idea, and it always ends badly. It can cause detrimental effects, including: Financial ruin - Chasing losses is the fastest way to accumulate a substantial amount of debt.How do I get my gambling addiction back? ›
- Talking to your support person.
- Writing your feelings and actions in your gambling diary. ...
- Control your cash. ...
- Fill in the gap that gambling has left with new things to do.
- Practise your relaxation.
- You choose which venues, casinos or websites to be excluded from.
- You sign a deed listing the venues you agree not to go into for a minimum period.
- If venue staff see you in the gaming area of the venue, they will report you to the program and ask you to leave.
Please be advised that all Self-Exclusion terms are irrevocable. What happens after the form is completed and processed? The Bureau will send a confirmation letter to the patron notifying them that their form has been accepted and that they have been added to the Self-Exclusion list.
It's called self-exclusion or voluntary exclusion. Self-exclusion programs are run through each state's gaming enforcement department, and put you on a list that will prevent you from signing up or logging in at any online sportsbook or casino.What is an example of self-exclusion? ›
Self-exclusion (self-banning) is when you ask a gambling venue to exclude you from the venue or a gambling activity offered at the venue.What is reason of exclusion? ›
People can be excluded because of who they are, where they live, sociocultural reasons, lack of resources – and frequently a combination of these factors, as shown in Figure 1.2. The overlapping circles in the diagram indicate how there may be more than one reason for exclusion of any individual or group.How do you lift a self ban from a casino? ›
- Review the application form.
- Visit the Alcohol, Gaming, Fuel and Tobacco Division or 1 of the casinos and tell them you want to cancel the voluntary exclusion (banning yourself) so you can be allowed back in the casinos.
Decrease in gambling frequency and duration. Reduction in problem gambling severity • Reduction in psychological distress.How do I get rid of self-exclusion on sportsbet? ›
What if I change my mind? At Sportsbet we take Responsible Gambling and self exclusion very seriously. If you wish to talk to a Responsible Gambling Officer about your self exclusion or your break period, please contact us on 1800 883 879.How do I get my money back from gambling sites? ›
First, contact your bank, report the fraud, and ask them to put a temporary freeze on your account. Then contact the gambling site or company and request a freeze to be placed on the account and, if necessary, alert the authorities.What does the self-exclusion program allow players to ban themselves from? ›
What is the Self-Exclusion Program? The Program enables you to exclude yourself from all Alberta casinos and racing entertainment centres (RECs) and the gambling opportunities these represent.