Ontario’s Online Gambling Market Is Still Growing

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Almost four months and 44 Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) approvals into the launch of Ontario’s expanded iGaming marketplace, and would-be online gambling operators still want to join.

By the end of July, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment (MGE) hopes to be the “first bricks and mortar” entity to launch an online gambling site in Ontario. If that happens, MGE will likely become the 45th AGCO-approved applicant.

That’s true even though regulators haven’t yet released revenue figures since the April 4 addition of private operators. Before that date, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) held a monopoly.

What’s more is gray market operators are still in business in the province, meaning Ontarians have even more online gambling options than those legal entities.

At this point, PointsBet Canada CEO Scott Vanderwel says Ontario’s a legal vs. illegal market in his mind.

Plus, he takes issue with some operators with legal status in Ontario operating in the gray market in other provinces. “Splitting hairs” in Canada isn’t OK, Vanderwel said.

Vanderwel and MGE Digital Gaming President Richard Roberts shared their news and thoughts on July 13 at SBC Summit North America 2022.

Even the name of their session emphasized why private online gambling operators want to launch in the province: Online in Ontario – iGaming in North America’s Fifth Largest Market.

MGE’s Online Gambling Site

If MGE receives AGCO approval and proceeds to the next step, an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario (iGO), its site can launch. At the moment, iGO lists 32 regulated sites.

However, MGE’s site won’t bear its name, Roberts says.

Ironically like its operator partner in Connecticut, FanDuel, MGE’s Ontario site will feature the branding of a retail casino. To Nutmeggers, FanDuel Group’s site is known as Mohegan Sun Casino.

In Ontario, MGE’s site will have Fallsview branding, Roberts says. MGE is the OLG’s service provider for Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls.

MGE develops and operates casinos for Connecticut’s Mohegan Tribe.

Roberts says part of the reason the Ontario approvals are taking so long is retail and iGaming regulations don’t match up.

He explained in December at SBC Summit North America 2021:

As a land-based operator, we’ve got a lot of hurdles different than online. So we’re challenged by the ease of getting licensed, based upon what we’ve had to go through from a retail perspective. So there’s got to be a level of uniformity, from that perspective. Particularly around protecting the players, protecting the operators that have been working for decades within the province.

However, once the Fallsview site does launch, Roberts predicted on July 13 that it will create cross-channel advantages.

He cited the example of the Connecticut site, where 30% to 40% of online signups were from people who’d never entered the Mohegan Sun. The loyalty program solved that by redeeming online rewards at the Uncasville retail casino, he said.

So MGE’s Fallsview site may be the first brick-and-mortar entrance into Ontario’s market. However, it’s unlikely to be the last online gambling operator to join the game.

About the Author
Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher

Heather Fletcher is the lead writer at Bonus, concentrating on online casino coverage. She had her first published byline at age 10, but didn't get paid for her writing until she got her first newspaper job. Fletcher's newspaper career started at Suburban News Publications in Ohio and eventually took her to The New York Times, where she's still a contract freelance reporter for the National Desk. She covers breaking news from Philadelphia, as needed. In March 2021, Fletcher began writing about online casino gambling as the lead writer for Online Poker Report.

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