Gamblers in Ontario can currently place legal wagers on sporting events, but they are limited to utilizing only the province’s retail locations operated by the Ontario Gaming Corp or ProLine+, the mobile app operated by the province’s lottery. On April 4th, commercial sportsbooks will be allowed to begin accepting online wagers from bettors located in Ontario.
The Ontario sports betting marketplace is set to get a lot more crowded and competitive on April 4th. While bettors located in Ontario have legally been able to place sports bets in retail establishments and using the lottery’s ProLine+ app since last summer, April 4th marks the date where private operators will be allowed to offer their online gambling sites and services within the province.
14 companies have already been licensed to operate online sports betting apps in Ontario, with the number of licensed operators expected to grow. FanDuel, BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, and Caesars are expected be among the widely known international brands that open up operations, and local operators TheScore Bet, NorthStar Gaming are also licensed and expected to launch operations on day one. A number of former “gray market” operators and European companies will also be getting in on the action.
Ontario’s Legislative Assembly has placed some restrictions on advertising to help prevent a barrage of sports betting ads from overwhelming residents. The biggest restriction is on operators’ ability to advertise their introductory promotional offers. They will still be allowed to give away the same valuable promotional rewards that bettors in the USA enjoy, but these offers are only to be shown on the website or app and are not allowed to be used in marketing materials visible elsewhere.
In addition to restrictions on advertising sports betting promotional opportunities, operators are prohibited from targeting minors, self-excluded players, and people at high risk for addictive gambling behavior. All advertisements must include a message about responsible gaming, and all operator websites, social media properties, and advertisements must include the iGO logo. The AGCO is expecting operators to act in compliance with the spirit and intent of the legislation. Jay Welbourn, Senior Manager of Technology and Compliance for the AGCO said “Our job isn’t to find loopholes and to close the loopholes – our job is to communicate intent and objectives and for the industry to act in a compliant way. It’s not our objective at all to become an approval body for all the advertisements.”
While the April 4th launch date missed out on marquee betting events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics, and the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament, Ontario bettors will enjoy an array of exciting events in the opening days and weeks of this expanded sports betting marketplace. The NCAA Tournament championship game takes place on April 4th, and will likely generate significant betting interest. One of the PGA’s highest profile events of the year, the Masters, begins on April 7th. The Toronto Blue Jays take the field for the first time on April 8th, kicking off a season where they are fielding their strongest team in years. With both the Raptors and the Maple Leafs projected to make the playoffs in their respective leagues, they should generate significant interest among bettors as well.
It is a great time to be a sports bettor in Ontario, with a wide array of options and valuable promotional bonuses soon to be available from the expanded marketplace. Combined with the jam-packed schedule of thrilling sporting events on tap for the spring and summer the future looks bright for both Ontario gamblers as well as operators.
Players must be 21 years of age or older or reach the minimum age for gambling in their respective state and located in jurisdictions where online gambling is legal. Please play responsibly. Bet with your head, not over it. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, and wants help, call or visit: (a) the Council on Compulsive Gambling of New Jersey at 1-800-Gambler or www.800gambler.org; or (b) Gamblers Anonymous at 855-2-CALL-GA or www.gamblersanonymous.org.
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