Operators upset with iGaming Ontario over surprise charges
The AGCO subsidiary is getting pushback after sending out a notice that it is seeking payment for fees charged by its bank for "due diligence processes". And, it's conference week in NYC and VAN.
iGaming Ontario draws ire of operators
The latest piece of correspondence from iGaming Ontario to some of its operators has gone over like a Chinese weather balloon floating across North American skies.
Gaming News Canada learned Friday that iGO, in a February 21 notice, informed operators they would be receiving invoices to pay for fees charged by iGO’s bank for “the due diligence processes it conducts before Operators can begin to make deposits to iGO bank accounts. A large number of Operators entering an iGaming market that is newly regulated has meant that iGO’s bank has conducted a high volume of due diligence activities”.
The notice from iGO, which was obtained by GNC, added that iGO will invoice operators that launched before December 31 an amount “ranging from $25,000 to $150,000 CAD based on iGO’s determination of their expected annualized GGR”.
iGO, in the notice, referred to Section 5.5.2 of the Finance Policy, Chargeback of Fees as the reason for seeking payments from operators. That isn’t sitting well with operators, some of which are members of the Canadian Gaming Association.
“We’ve written iGO on their behalf to express their displeasure,” said CGA president and CEO Paul Burns, adding that some of the association’s members have contacted iGO directly. “The industry needs to understand that there’s cost certainty and regulatory certainty.
“This is a highly competitive market. Having surprises and unplanned costs, no matter how big or small, disrupts business plans. None of the operators heard from the banks, and didn’t know due diligence was being done.”
Amanda Brewer, the Canadian country manager for Kindred Group, expressed her frustration with the banks in an email to GNC.
“Despite repeated attempts by the industry – the Canadian Gaming Assocation, iGaming Ontario, and individual operators – to invite the banks to the table so they could educate themselves on the standards and the stringent AML/KYC regulations that all operators must uphold, they refused, And this is the result,” Brewer wrote. “An industry created by the province to generate jobs, economic development and revenue was ignored. What signal does this send to future industries that want to do business in Ontario?”
We reached out to iGaming Ontario for comment and were told by a spokesperson “iGO cannot comment due to the confidential nature of its operating agreement(s) with Operators”.
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NorthStar Gaming joins the TSX Venture Exchange
While we were tidying up the inbox Friday afternoon and preparing ourselves for devoting some of the weekend to our income tax returns, news landed that NorthStar Gaming had completed its reverse into Baden Resources and will join the TSX Venture Exchange under the symbol BET.
From the company’s news release:
A Form 2B listing application dated March 3, 2023 (the "Listing Application") in respect of the Company has been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the TSX-V and will be filed under the Company's profile on SEDAR at www.sedar.com later today. It is anticipated that the Company's common shares will commence trading on the TSX-V on during the week of March 6, 2023 under the symbol "BET". The Company will issue an updated release upon the issuance of the trading bulletin by the TSX-V confirming the trading date.
"The public listing of NorthStar represents a significant milestone and we're pleased to now provide consumers with the opportunity to become shareholders," said Michael Moskowitz, Chief Executive Officer and a founding partner of NorthStar. "As an organization, we're focused on executing our strategic vision to grow our iGaming market share across the province of Ontario while also looking ahead to the future with the goal of reaching other markets.”
Our friends at Earnings+More reported that Playtech CFO Chris McGinnis will have a seat on NorthStar’s board of directors. Also from E+M:
· Who owns what: Torstar will be the major shareholder at float with 23% of the company, with the potential to raise that to 26% via conversion warrants.
· Strategic partner Playech will own 15% with an option to increase its percentage holding to 31% via two tranches of separately priced warrant options.
· Private equity groups Tevir Capital and Rivet Capital together own a further 23%.
(Editor’s Note: After we hit the Publish button this morning to fly the friendly skies, NorthStar put out another news release that the company began trading on the TSX this morning. Also, joining Playtech’s McGinnis on the board of directors are Moskowitz, Brian Cooper, Vic Bertrand, Chris Hodgson, Dean MacDonald, Sylvia Prentice and Barry Safran.
A hat trick of conferences this week
Various card-carrying members of the gambling industry are gathering this week in Vancouver and New York, where your friendly neighbourhood correspondent will be piling up the steps on the health app going back and forth between the iGaming Next NYC23 conference and SBJ Tech Week. On the left coast, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC)’s New Horizons in Responsible Gambling conference gets rolling this morning with a keynote address from Amazing Race Canada 7 champeens Anthony Johnson and Dr. James Makokis.
If you have the proverbial bandwidth to stay on top of everything happening in both cities – but doing so from afar – please follow us on Twitter (@StevieMacSports and @GamingNewsCA).
Gaming News Canada Show podcast, global edition
The latest episode of your friendly neighbourhood GNC show podcast has a distinct international flavour. The latest episode started in Berlin, where Bayes Esports head of growth and finance Christopher Bohlmann joined us to expand on the comments he made in the Gaming News Canada newsletter about the “healthy transformation” of the esports industry over the first two months of 2023. Then it was off to New York, where iGaming NEXT managing director Pierre Lindh was setting up his automatic “We’re Sold Out” reply (OK, that’s a statement of the Trumpian/Santos kind) while giving our listeners a lay of the land for next week’s NYC23 conference in The Big Apple.
Ryan McCarthy, the BCLC’s person in charge of player health, called in from Vancouver to set the table for the lottery corporation’s New Horizons in Responsible Gambling get-together next week along with the BCLC’s five-year extension of its GameSense partnership with MGM Resorts International and BetMGM that was announced this week.
PointsBet Canada CCO Nic Sulsky returned to the show for the first time in a few weeks to discuss the operator’s new responsible gambling message from Kerri Einarson’s four-time Canadian curling championship rink.
Sulsky also provided a few thoughts on the announcement this week that Bally’s was shutting down Monkey Knife Fight, the daily fantasy sports business which Sulsky helped create in 2017. Finally, regular contributors Amanda Brewer of Kindred Group and Kris Abbott of Kaizen Gaming/Betano also provided their usual keen insight into the latest news from around the industry.
Because we’re doing the planes, Ubers and panels things with both iGaming Next and SBJ Tech Week, we’re hitting the Pause button on our LinkedIn Audio Thursday afternoon coffee klatch. The Gaming News Canada Show will return at its regularly scheduled time on Thursday, Mar. 16.
We will have coverage from New York and Vancouver in your regularly scheduled Thursday morning dispatch.
The Company Line – Data Skrive
This week we put The Company Line spotlight on Data Skrive.
Home Base: Seattle
Founders: Current CEO Brad Weitz, Gregg Bennett and Jordan Nilsen co-founded the company.
Raison D’Etre: Data Skrive is an all-in-one fan engagement solution that creates optimized and localized sports and sports betting content at scale.
If you’d like to have your business featured in The Company Line, please drop us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Gaming News Canada is also looking for a company seeking a larger presence in Ontario and across the rest of the country to sponsor our twice-weekly newsletter for the month of March.
Follow us @GamingNewsCA on Twitter for the latest news on the sports betting and gaming industry. For our daily picks and other sports video content, visit @Homestand. If you’d like to appear on our Thursday afternoon get-together at LinkedIn Audio, please let us know.
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