Slicing and dicing iGO's first report
iGaming Ontario released its Q1 results yesterday, sparking a chain reaction of analysis and opinion. Also, we look at what may lie ahead for the sports betting and igaming industry in Canada.
In this issue:
iGaming Ontario (finally) releases first-quarter numbers
What’s ahead in Year 2?
Unibet faces fine from AGCO
The Company Line - FSB
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A mixed bag of reactions to Ontario’s opening numbers
So much for coasting through the final week of summer.
We were taking the last sip of our third cup of coffee yesterday morning, musing about tee times and what to throw on the BBQ this Labour Day weekend when an email from iGaming Ontario landed in our inbox with the long-awaited first-quarter results of the province’s regulated sports betting and igaming business.
The reaction was of The Fast and Furious kind, minus Vin Diesel and Ludacris, of course.
From Paul Burns, the President/CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association:
“Today’s release by iGaming Ontario of the first-quarter results from Ontario’s regulated igaming market reflects a promising start. From the initial 17 websites on Day One, the market now has 39 active websites with many more operators soon to enter. This also demonstrates the igaming market is transitioning from a grey market to a fully regulated one. Leading brands in casino and sports betting have already chosen to become part of Ontario’s regulated market, and in the next two quarters we will see further results of that popularity.”
PointsBet Canada also provided statements from two of its top executives:
“Since taking our first bet on April 4th, PointsBet Canada has offered an unrivalled gaming experience to enthusiasts. As a regulated operator, we are deeply invested in offering our customers a safe and exciting sports wagering experience.
As iGaming continues to take important steps forward in the country, we are excited to further our authentically Canadian approach and build on our partnerships with the athletes, teams, and brands that matter to Canadians.”
Scott Vanderwel, CEO
“The data released today by iGaming Ontario contextualizes just how much Ontario has benefited from a legal, regulated and competitive iGaming market. It has never been clearer that the regulated market prioritizes strong consumer and anti-money laundering protections. PointsBet Canada looks forward to continuing to be an active market participant in the regulated Ontario market as it continues to mature.
PointsBet Canada would like to once again like to thank Premier Ford, Attorney General Downey, Minister Bethlenfalvy, and iGaming Ontario for their actions to date. The data provided today proves that Ontario’s iGaming framework which allows for competition, continued investment, job creation, and consumer protection is a model which should be adopted in other Canadian jurisdictions.”
Chantal Cipriano, Vice President of Legal, Compliance & People
There were thoughts of the 280-character variety on the Twitterverse, including:
And from the folks formerly known as ink-stained wretches:
Ontario iGaming off to slow start with $124M (U.S.) in revenue over first 3 months
Ontario’s new online betting market sees revenue of $162 million in first three months
Ontarians Wager $4 Billion (CAD), Market Produces $162 Million Gaming Revenue In Q1
Ontario books $162,000,000 in first quarter of new gambling market
Ontario reports $3bn (U.S.) handle in initial iGaming report
Ontario Sports Betting: Initial iGO Report Shows Over $4B in Wagers, Revenue Lower Than Expected
Ontario iGaming Report Released for 1st Full Quarter Since the Market Launched
Our two cents’ worth:
We tend to agree with Steve Ruddock’s analysis, especially in pointing out a fairly quiet sports calendar and the challenge incoming operators had against former grey market/now black market operators in Ontario.
One industry insider with ties throughout the industry told us yesterday that operators aren’t losing sleep over the initial results and that’s consistent with the “this is a marathon, not a sprint” message we’ve been hearing since the province announced it would open up sports betting and igaming.
Established operators such as PokerStars, Pinnacle, Sports Interaction and Betway didn’t have the iGO stamp of approval for the first quarter. iGO’s results don’t include the financials from OLG’s sportsbook and online casino products, and Ontario continues to have operators doing business sans AGCO licensing.
We’d like to see a more detailed breakdown of these iGO reports, including the performance of the individual operators, as has been the case with gaming commission in legalized U.S. states.
Analysts at Vixio Regulatory Intelligence have forecasted gross revenues of $989 million in Ontario’s first year. We believe, that on an April-to-April calendar, it’s a very safe bet.
Onward we go.
What comes next?
The final Saturday of August last week coincided with the one-year anniversary of the Liberal government decriminalizing single-event sports betting across our home and native land. Robyn McNeil of Play Canada took us on a walk down memory lane and also looked ahead to what’s coming for legal gaming across the country. And Greg Warren at Sports Handle provided his own look back/look ahead version.
For what lies ahead, we’ve put together our own Things to Watch list (and we’re happy to tick off one box with yesterday’s iGaming Ontario announcement, realizing we’re just scratching the proverbial surface here.
Who’s coming (legally) to Ontario next? As we hit the Send button this morning, there are 27 operators and 40 websites approved to operate by iGaming Ontario. We’re still waiting on Pinnacle, William Hill, BetVictor, BetRegal, and Bet99 to get the green light, and we expect there will be more.
When is a retail sportsbook coming to Ontari-ari-ari-o? That all depends on when OLG delivers to the province a path forward to make that a reality. The Canadian Gaming Association has repeatedly expressed its frustration that nothing has happened one year into the new market and we know sportsbooks operators, casinos and Woodbine Entertainment to name a few are chomping at the bit to set up a bricks-and-mortar operation.
Where goeth the AGCO? The early months of the Ontario market has resulted in bouquets and bricks being tossed in the direction of the commission. Getting 39 gaming websites up and running in less than five months merits a tap of the Bauer Vapor Hyperlite, especially in the middle of a post-pandemic summer when folks would rather be hanging out at the beach or on a patio rather than poring over rules and regulations. It’s no surprise that sportsbooks aren’t enamoured with the rules around bonuses and inducements (read below), there are concerns tied to insurance issues, and there’s frustration among the affiliate companies and having their hands tied when it comes to promoting the bonuses in the chase for customers. Supporters of the AGCO’s standards for igaming will point to a focus on responsible gambling practices and safe payments to users. The industry will be watching very closely if/how the commission clamps down on operators which either haven’t applied for a licence or are dragging their feet during the application process.
Which provinces follow Ontario? Eight months after issuing a negotiated request for proposals, the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission has yet to announce which two operators will collaborate with the province’s casinos in creating both bricks-and-mortar and online sportsbooks. A coalition of provincial lottery corporations announced at the beginning of August that they were targeting the grey market with an advertising campaign.
The ongoing quest for an authentic connection between betting and media. FanDuel’s announcement last week that it is launching FanDuel TV with a lineup that includes Kay Adams, Pat McAfee and Bill Simmons is the latest foray by a betting business into the media space (we also recommend perusing this piece by Ronen Ainbinder of Front Office Sports on what else is happening in the U.S. of A.). There’s too much soil to till here except to predict that there’s much more to come. On this side of the border, we await the audibles called by TSN and Sportsnet after its initial attempts were met with not-so-good reviews.
Matters of M&A, Part Deux. The industry has been forecasting the smaller fish being swallowed up by the big players, so we’ll wait and watch for the proverbial shoes to drop there. That includes sportsbooks, tech and media companies, etc., etc., etc.
A plea for creativity around advertising and partnerships. Your humble messenger subscribes to the thought that the angst and anger around the spate of sportsbook advertising during Ontario’s market launch had an awful lot to do with the quality - really, the lack thereof - of the ads. The inability to promote bonuses should open the doors to better creative. The busy fall sports season should also give us a clearer view of the sportsbooks’ activations of their partnership deals, especially for FanDuel, PointsBet Canada and PokerStars with MLSE. Two thumbs-up so far to The Score for being smart and irreverent with their Toronto Blue Jays and Golf Canada partnerships.
If you’d like to offer additional thoughts, drop firstname.lastname@example.org a note, and we’ll get it into next week’s dispatch.
Unibet latest operator to be penalized by AGCO
While the Alcohol and Gaming Commission has received accolades across the gaming industry for much of its work in getting Ontario’s wide-open market off the ground, it has also provided some “Huh?” moments.
That should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been exposed to a new, regulated business. Still, the AGCO’s news release it was laying down a $48,000 fine for “alleged advertising and inducement infractions”.
From the release:
“Contrary to Standard 2.05, between May 19, 2022, and May 22, 2022, Unibet ON Inc. allegedly posted or aired multiple broad gambling inducements that promoted ‘generous welcome offers’.”
Amanda Brewer, the country manager for Unibet owners Kindred Group, provided this statement to Gaming News Canada:
“Kindred erred in its interpretation of inducement language when it developed advertising to launch Unibet in the Ontario market. We regret we were non-compliant with an important AGCO standard, and we will strengthen our internal processes to ensure we stay compliant. Kindred always aims to operate with high standards of responsible gambling and player protection, which includes how we market our products to our customers.”
Kindred joins DraftKings, PointsBet Canada and BetMGM as operators which have been penalized by the AGCO since market open in April for infractions related to advertising and inducements. Seems a little odd to us that operators are being fined for “alleged” violations, especially when we’ve seen the AGCO issue warnings to businesses in other sectors it oversees. We’re also surprised that four operators which are doing business in jurisdictions around the planet and have been doing so for a while, are failing to comply with Ontario’s regulations. But, when the AGCO’s definition of inducements is awfully open-ended, and we’re told that operators aren’t getting a lot of help from the commission when it comes to finding greater clarity.
From the AGCO’s website:
Public advertising of inducements, bonuses and credits is strictly prohibited, including targeted advertising and algorithm-based ads (Standard 2.05). [Updated April 8, 2022]
An inducement includes any offer that may persuade or encourage a person to participate, or to participate frequently, in any gaming activity. Examples include: sign-up offers, deposit offers, offer of a reward, bonus or “boosted” odds, refund/stake-back offers, multi-bet offers, or winnings paid on losing bets. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.
This standard applies whether inducements are advertised directly or indirectly. Indirect inducement advertising includes, but is not limited to, the display of promotional codes and/or general references that invite individuals or the general public to learn more about inducements on the gaming site.
This Standard applies whether the inducements are real or perceived, based on what players could expect from viewing the advertisement.
Advertising covered by this prohibition includes any communication of the inducement, whether verbal, written, or otherwise, regardless of the chosen communication channel (including, among other things, links and descriptions provided by affiliates referenced in standard 1.21, player referrals, internet search engine results, chat rooms).
As we’ve stated repeatedly in this corner, the Ontario market is a work in progress, and the AGCO has a plate which overfloweth. So, with thanks to Guns N’ Roses. . .
The Company Line
This week, Gaming News Canada shines the CL spotlight on FSB. Birthdate: 2007
Home Base: London, England
Founders: Dave McDowell and Sam Lawrence
Raison D’Etre: FSB, which received its licence to operate in Ontario from the AGCO in March, provides sports and casino betting, and gaming business in a single, scalable platform. Among its partners is Fitzdares, which has also been licensed by the AGCO.
If you’d like to have your company featured in this section to profile the players in the Canadian gaming space, please drop us a note at email@example.com.
On the Home Front
From the “seemed like it happened last week” file, Sports Interaction is live (again) in Ontario.
Sportsbook and igaming software provider Altenar has received a supplier licence from the AGCO.
In case you’re having trouble keeping track at home, Dave Briggs has the updated list on sponsorships/partnerships in the Canadian gaming space.
By the by, the Responsible Gambling Council has a Sept. 7 deadline for proposals on topics for its Discover 2022 conference.
Former Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons is Rod Black’s guest on the latest edition of The Rodcast.
Let’s Get Together
Genius Sports has a new deal with Bally’s Interactive that includes CFL content.
Both gaming industry veteran Chris Grove and Sportico’s Eben Novy-Williams are on to something with their tweets Monday about Fanatics’ 10-year agreement with the Orioles of Baltimore.
Boot Hill Casino has a sportsbook partnership in Kansas with Golden Nugget.
Brazilian esports organization LOUD has a new betting website partner.
Here’s the tale of a partnership between a slots streamer and a cruise line.
French soccer club Lille Olympique has a deal with Africa-based 1xBet.
EQL Games will be providing iLottery content to Michigan Lottery.
Matters of M&A
Churchill Downs’s acquisition of Hard Rock Sioux City has been given the stamp of approval by the Iowa Gaming Commission.
FansUnite Entertainment reported its Q2 financial results Monday with a whopping YOY increase in revenue for the quarter. The Vancouver-based company announced last week that sports betting newcomer Betr will be licensing its player account management software.
Luckbox lost money in the first half of the year, but remains debt free according to its latest earnings report.
Dutch-owned Holland Casino is back in the black with its H1 earnings.
Allwyn enjoyed a healthy year-over-year increase in GGR, according to its Q2 financials.
It’s the same feel-good story for Gambling.com Group, thanks to a healthy North American business.
States Side Stories
Sportsbooks are poised once again to go on a spending palooza when it comes to advertising dollars and the fall sports schedule in Amarica.
The FanDuel Sportsbook in Las Vegas has been approved and is expected to open its doors in 2023.
Meanwhile, DraftKings will open its latest sportsbook at Golden Nugget Lake Charles in Louisiana tomorrow.
Rob Rapaport announced Monday that he’s leaving Golf Digest to join Barstool Sports and the Fore Play Podcast.
Richard Vanderford of the Wall Street Journal wrote about concerns that the growth in legal online gambling could lead to a rise in financial crimes.
ALT Sports Data announced yesterday the closing of its SEED round funding, and Friend of the Parleh Benjie Cherniak has joined the company as an advisor.
From the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not files, President Biden and Florida Senator Ron DeSantis sit on the same side of an issue.
Katie Kohler of Play Pennsylvania has a terrific read on the potential impact of the new Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime for sports bettors and sportsbooks.
A Michigan man says writing a book motivated him to stop his excessive gambling habit.
Prophet Exchange launched in New Jersey on Monday with New York Giants. . . ahem. . . . “legend” Victor Cruz placing the first wager.
Fanatics is going on a hiring spree for its U.S. sports betting business.
As of Monday, six operators have been approved to launch their mobile sportsbooks when Kansas opens its wagering market tomorrow with a soft launch.
And speaking of the Sunflower State, Barstool Sports is going to have a bricks-and-mortars sportsbook trackside at Kansas Speedway.
The New York State Gaming Commission expects to outperform its revenue targets for the first year of legal sports betting.
The sports wagering commission in Maryland has approved the proposed regulations for the market that’s scheduled to open by next year’s Super Bowl.
Maryland Lottery has approved DraftKings’ application for a retail sportsbook.
An Iowa sportsbook is being fined $60,000 for allowing the use of credit cards on site.
ESPN’s David Purdum tells the story behind the wildest college football wager of the offseason.
DraftKings will be opening its first Sports & Social DraftKings venue in Troy, Mich.
Speaking of DK, it enlisted WWE star The Miz to lend a hand with its latest message to gamble responsibly.
Colossus Bets has a new CEO and plans to expand into the U.S. of A.
ClutchBets has a licence to take bets in Iowa.
The Vegas Strip was buzzing in July.
John Breech writes for CBS Sports that Tom Brady and the Buccaneers are headed for a freefall this season.
TwinSpires is shutting down its Michigan business, and it’s expected to be taken over by SI Sportsbook.
Gaming executives are getting their heads shaved on behalf of St. Baldrick’s Foundation.
An NCAA football team celebrating by playing a slot machine may not be the best manner in which to promote your program.
A woman and her son are among four people arrested in connection with money being stolen from casino machines across Illinois.
Finally, spending on a lobbying campaign for the two sports betting initiatives in California has exceeded $350 million.
Across the Pond
Jake Pollard and Scott Longley at Wagers.com Earnings+More had the goods Monday on the UK Gambling Commission asking licensees for information tied to 10 recent suicides.
Rachel Hall of The Guardian reports that children of problem gamblers are more likely to have scratch cards purchased for them, according to research done by the GamCare charity.
Betsson Group’s NordicBet business has a new brand identity.
Germany continues to work towards a regulated online gaming market.
A school for prospective casino workers in Japan is being closed.
A poll by the Australian Institute revealed that folks are less than enamoured with betting ads.
Add New Zealand’s chief gambling commissioner to the list of folks spreading kooky stuff about COVID-19 vaccines.
A Sydney casino gave a high roller who had been banned from the casino by police a Rolex and free accommodation to entice them to gamble there.
An Italian tennis judge won’t be sitting in the on-court chair any time soon after receiving a lengthy ban for pleading guilty to match fixing.
Twain Sport CEO Sarunas Mazalas spoke with Erin-Marie Gallagher about its T-Bucket product and sundry things ahead of the upcoming SBC Summit in Barcelona.
A columnist for an Australian digital media outlet wrote about problem gambling in the country’s Northern Territory.
Finally, Ladbrokes delivers a blast from the past by paying homage to Rocky with its latest ad.
Steven Loung delivered a damn fine read to The Toronto Star last week on the challenges of esports athletes, including the challenge of being recognized as an athlete.
And Greg Leporati wrote for The Washington Post on the obstacles that stand in the way of an esports athlete enjoying a lengthy career.
The Conestoga College esports program has joined forces with the Esport Canada Post-Secondary.
Count Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin among the folks preaching patience when it comes to sports betting in North America.
After only 18 months on the job, the chief media officer of DraftKings is bidding adieu.
Sportsbooks and investors are both bullish on the return of the NFL season boosting their shares.
SBC’s Erin-Marie Gallagher spoke last week with Sportradar CEO Carsten Koerl about the company’s latest earnings report.
Kero Sports founder and CEO Tomash Devenishek did the Q and A thing on globalgamingexpo.com.
An interesting HR story on KaFe Rocks proclaiming early success with its unlimited vacation initiative for employees.
SlotsTemple.com interviewed Light & Wonder creative director Craig Turner about recent changes to its Stash & Grab game.
Ross Fruin, the co-founder and CEO of GridRival, appeared on the most recent edition of The Betting Startups Podcast.
Oliver Bartlett, the director of gaming for BetMGM, appeared on the GGB Podcast to speak about the growth of live gaming.
The VP of payments and fraud at Caesars Digital chimed in on the future of payments in the business of gaming.
People on the Move
Matt Wilson has been named interim CEO at Light & Wonder with the departure of Barry Cottle.
Endre Nesset has been moved up from senior VP to president of B2C operations at Coolbet.
Lisa Litvack has been promoted to VP, Live Events and Production Ops at Barstool Sports.
Esports betting business Oddin.GG has added Mark Balch as Director of Strategy and Juana Bischeff as Senior Business Development Manager.
The Canadian Premier League introduced Mark Noonan last week as its new commissioner.
Sebastian Rebhan starts a new position at Kindled Group as Senior Product Marketing Manager.
Kadie Smith has returned to the Canadian Football League as the Director of Digital Marketing and Fan Engagement.
Scientific Games welcomes new Vice President, Business Development - Canada Laurie Fisher.
The Premier Hockey Federation announced this week three new hires: former U.S. national women’s team star Brianna Decker as Team and Player Development Advisor; Marissa Halligan as Lead League Operations Developer; and Nicole Bargo as Director of Finance.
Brooke Hilton has been promoted from Senior Product Manager for Bally's Interactive to Director, iGaming Product - North America.
Callum Broxton has joined Checkd Group as Head of U.S. Operations.
Gerard Crosby has been appointed SVP and Chief Games Product Officer at Konami Gaming.
Classified (Jobs) Information
TheScore is advertising a gaggle of gaming jobs at its Toronto and Hoboken, NJ, offices.
There’s a search happening by a global gaming company for a Chief Commercial Officer/Managing Director.
Vancouver-based OneComply has an opening for a Senior Project Manager.
FanDuel is hiring a Principal Data Architect.
Spotlight Sports Group is doing some recruiting of its own for a Talent Acquisition Partner to work out of HQ in jolly olde England.
Genius Sports has an opening for a German-speaking Integrity Analyst, Sports Betting.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are searching for a Director of Content & Storytelling.
The St. Louis Blues are hiring a Chief Communications Officer, Vice President.
The Jacksonville Jaguars are in the market for a Director of Analytics.
The Canadian Elite Basketball League, which just put the bow on its fourth season, is seeking a Director of Finance, and a Manager, Digital Marketing and Data.
ESPN is on the lookout for a Social Media Manager - NBA to work out of either New York or LA, making us remember Patsy Gallant.
About the Numbers
RJ Barrett is about to get paid.
The New York Knicks guard is reportedly close to signing a four-year rookie extension that could be worth up to $120 million. The 22-year-old Canadian international will become the youngest player to sign a $100 million deal with New York, and the first Knicks first-round pick to sign a multi-year extension with the franchise since Charlie Ward in 1994.
Originally selected with the third-overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Barrett averaged a career-high 20.0 points to go along with 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists last season. He’ll look to continue his upwards trajectory towards becoming one of the better two-way guards in the league.
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