Ontario Has Handed Out Its First Online Gambling Licenses to Private Operators

  • PointsBet Canada, Rivalry Corporation, and theScore are the first operators to get licenses
  • Ontario’s iGaming and online sports betting markets will go live on April 4
  • All three operators have a strong presence in Canada
  • Some casino operators and tribal gaming groups have concerns about the upcoming launches
Person pressing a "license" button on a virtual screen
Three private operators – theScore, Rivalry Corporation, and PointsBet Canada – have received online gambling licenses in Ontario. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Nearing launch date

Ontario has handed out its first iGaming and sports betting licenses to private operators. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has issued licenses to Penn National Gaming’s theScore, Rivalry Corporation, and PointsBet Canada.

iGaming Ontario is the government agency in charge of online gambling operations in the province. It announced last week that the iGaming and online sports betting markets in Ontario will be able to get up and running on April 4.

operators will need to meet the relevant launch requirements before they can go live

Licensed operators will need to meet the relevant launch requirements before they can go live, including executing an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario.

Three happy operators

theScore chief executive John Levy welcomed the news of its license approval. He said that his company is “beyond excited” to launch theScore Bet in its home market on April 4. Penn National Gaming acquired the Toronto-based theScore last year in a deal worth about US$2bn.

PointsBet is an Australia-based online casino and sportsbook operator. It will initially focus on launching an online sportsbook in Ontario, leveraging its experience of operating in the Australian and US markets. PointsBet Canada chief executive Scott Vanderwel spoke about how getting licensing approval was a big step for the company, saying: “Since day one, we have remained genuine to our promise of building a Canadian sportsbook, with Canadian employees, for the Canadian market.”

Toronto-based Rivalry Corporation, the owner and operator of Rivalry Limited, operates online casinos and sportsbooks in over 18 countries. It is the third private operator to get approval for an online gambling license in Ontario. Rivalry CEO and co-founder Steven Salz feels privileged to be able to legally brings its offering to Canadians. He said: “I’m confident we will deliver a differentiated experience that will elevate what consumers think sports betting can be.”

The road to legalization

There have been extensive calls over the years for online gambling expansion in Canada, as significant restrictions have been in place for a long time. These restrictions include lottery corporation monopolies in many provinces, as well as a federal ban on single-event sports betting. The ban was brought to an end last year, which led to Ontario starting the process of opening up its market to private operators.

Ontario is seen as a lucrative online gambling market for operators. Its size would make it the fifth most populated US state.

The application fee for an online gambling license in Ontario is CA$100,000 (US$78,336) and operators have to pay an annual renewal fee of CA$100,000. Operators also need to get a number of certifications, including RG Check iGaming Accreditation through the Responsible Gambling Council. Some local casino operators and tribal gaming groups have concerns about the impact that regulated online gambling will have on their operations.

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