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The Second Year of Ontario’s iGaming Market is More than 70% Bigger than the First

Expectations were high when plans were originally unveiled to launch Ontario’s fully regulated, legal, commercial iGaming market. The international igaming companies were sure that Ontario was a market where their online casinos and sports books would boom. However, even the most optimistic forecaster might be taken aback by just how successful the sector is proving to be. If the sector was regarded as a success in its first year, the growth in its second year is nothing short of monumental.

Canadians are well known for their love of gambling. According to the latest statistics, at least 60% have spent money on gambling in the past month. The average Canadian spends just under $7 a month, and there are over 19.3 million active online gambling accounts in the country.  Between April 2022 and March 2023, Ontario reported gambling revenues of $1.4 billion. The latest figures show an increase of 72%. There are now 47 operators offering 77 gaming websites, all regulated by iGaming Ontario.

The latest report shows that quarter four total gaming revenue was £690 million, derived from total wagers of $17.8 billion (not including promotional / bonus wagers).  This brought the total gaming revenue for 2023 – 2024 to a staggering $2.4 billion. The figure is made up of total cash wagers, including all fees minus wins paid out. It does not take into account operational costs or other liabilities.

iGaming Ontario’s Executive Director Martha Otton said “With $63 billion in wagering and $2.4 billion in gaming revenue, the second year of Ontario’s igaming market is more than 70% bigger than the first. As the market matures into its third year, I look forward to building on this foundation of success with operators and other partners as they invest in Ontario so that Ontarians can continue to play with confidence.”

The figures show that two years in, the majority of Ontarians who play online are now doing so on regulated sites licensed by iGaming Ontario. An IPSO study released by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and co-commissioned by iGaming Ontario revealed that nearly 90% of players have transitioned to play on these sites. The advantage for the player is that not only has the regulator checked the sites out to make sure that they meet their stringent standards, but if anything goes wrong, the regulator is on hand to help the player.

Attorney General Doug Downey heralded it a success and said,

“As this made-in-Ontario igaming market celebrates its second anniversary, we’re very pleased to share that 86 percent of players are now participating on regulated sites. This is another pivotal milestone in our ongoing work to provide players and businesses with a strong, competitive and safer online gaming environment that meets consumer expectations. We look forward to iGaming Ontario’s continued success as a global innovator, as a job creator that sustained more than 12,000 jobs in its first year of operation, and as a leader in the online gaming space.”

The Ontario igaming market is in the 6th spot in the world according to gross gaming revenue, ahead of US states like Michigan and New York. One of the reasons for this is that the province opted to make all forms of gambling legal rather than picking and choosing and works with established international operators. It has not tried to reinvent the wheel but has embraced the best bits from across successful global markets.  Players have an incredibly wide choice of online casino websites and can find the most recommended casino apps as well. Whatever and however they like to play, they can find an iGaming experience that suits their style.

One of the unique aspects of the province’s open igaming market is that it has such a broad gaming catalogue. Operators offer a vast array of experiences, including sports betting, poker, online slots and traditional casino games like Blackjack and roulette. Individual operators feature bespoke games and build product lineups to tie in with their customers’ interests across the spectrum of gambling possibilities.

Martha Otton said the regulator is getting deeper insights into what Ontarians want from their gambling experience.

“With 24 months behind us, we are starting to see a clearer picture of the Ontario player landscape in all three segments, betting, casino and poker. I am looking forward to what comes next as we work with our operators to invest in Ontario and better understand Ontario players’ interests.”

She added, “iGaming Ontario joins our operators, government, and AGCO in celebrating our success in attracting Ontarians to the safer, regulated igaming market. We will continue to work in lockstep with the AGCO to enable Ontarians to play with confidence.”

While revenue and profit figures are impressive, iGaming Ontario Board Chair Heidi Reinhart is keen to point out that it is not only about numbers. She stressed that success needed to be measured in other ways, too. In a press release to accompany the IPSOS survey, she claimed,

“When talking about Ontario’s igaming market, the numbers tell us a lot, but what I’m most proud of are the countless ways that our government partners, operators, responsible gambling experts, players and employees have worked together to help us create a world-class market that is Ontario-made for Ontarians.”

While these first two years have been successful for most operators, it has not always been straightforward. While there have been notable successes, not every operator has found the going good. Last November, Unibet announced they would no longer operate in Ontario. The official statement claimed they were withdrawing from North American markets as part of a strategic review to maximize shareholder value. That is one way of putting it; another is that the Stockholm-based Kindred Group PLC was not finding the market as lucrative as they had expected. They announced they were consolidating their offerings in other markets and reallocating their resources to build market share elsewhere. In plain English, it appears that they might just have overextended themselves.