Ontario Sports Betting Has Been Underwhelming. What Happened?
At the end of January 2022, another major state launched legal sports betting as Louisiana went live with six different online sportsbooks. And Kansas just launched on September 1st, with Ohio legal sports betting planned for a New Year’s Day 2023 release. Additionally, Ontario officially legalized sports betting in April, bringing some of the top sportsbooks to the Canadian market. Now that Ontario sports betting has been around for nearly half a year, let’s see if it’s been a successful launch thus far.
The Numbers Are In On Ontario Sports Betting, And The Outlook Isn’t Good
The province of Ontario has just released the numbers from both its online casino gaming and sports betting offerings. And, unfortunately, the data is a bit disappointing. Ontario residents placed $3.11 billion in sports bets throughout the second quarter of the year, according to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. The total revenue for sports betting operators from the quarter was $123.8 million.
This translates to roughly $34 worth of gross gaming revenue per capita in the area. This is quite low and, according to Casino.org, significantly lower than a number of U.S. states with legalized gambling such as Connecticut, New Jersey, and Michigan.
Ontario recorded roughly Can$ 4 billion (roughly $3 billion US) in legal online casino gaming, sports betting and poker handle between April 4 and June 30, according to a report released today by iGaming Ontario; this is the first such report since regulated gaming launched 4/4
— Ryan Butler (@ButlerBets) August 30, 2022
Why Are Ontario Wagering Numbers So Low?
The reasoning behind the slow start for Ontario sports betting is a bit confusing. With U.S. sports betting, the second quarter of the year tends to yield lower betting numbers due to the lack of football, the most-bet sport in the country. But Canada is quite different when it comes to sports, as hockey is the most popular sport in the area. NHL regular season action and the postseason took place during the quarter, which makes the disappointing betting numbers more headscratching. Two NHL teams play in the province, with the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs both quite popular in the area.
While the Senators stayed at home during the playoffs after a lackluster regular season, the Maple Leafs had an exciting run to the playoffs, although it ended with a first round loss to the future Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s also a bad sign that the Canadian Football League season kicked off during the quarter while the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays offered additional betting opportunities to sports fans in the area.
$162m in gaming revenue between iCasino, sportsbetting, & poker in Ontario (pop: 14.5m) from Apr 4 to Jun 30.
Apples to apples comparison with US states that offer all 3:
MI (pop: 10m): $381.3m
PA (pop: 12.8m): $441.6m
NJ (pop: 8.9m): $557.1m
— Captain Jack Andrews (@capjack2000) August 30, 2022
Will the Ontario Betting Handle Bounce Back?
Only time will tell if the province of Ontario will turn around its sports betting market. The NFL season kicks off on September 8th, 2022, which is always massive for U.S. sports bettors. However, considering it’s the first time online sportsbooks will be available in Ontario during the NFL season, it remains to be seen if bettors in the area will place big bets on pro football.
The NHL will also return in October, with the Toronto Maple Leafs looking for a deep playoff run thanks to star center Auston Matthews, while the Ottawa Senators are hoping to take the next step after signing talented forward Claude Giroux. Expect more updates on the Ontario sports betting handle in the coming months.