Bet365 Now Added to the List of Operators Granted an Ontario Sports Betting License
Ahead of the launch of the commercial sportsbook market in Ontario on April 4, another online sportsbook operator has received a license. Bet365 has been operating for years as a gray market online sportsbook operator in Canada. But now, according to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, it appears the sportsbook operator has received a license to operate legally in the Ontario online sports betting market.
This now makes bet365 one of the online sports betting operators that have received licenses to launch commercial sportsbooks in Ontario. Most likely in anticipation of receiving this license from the AGCO to launch in the marketplace, bet365 had recently launched a Canadian sports betting app.
Because the Canadian sports betting market as a whole has been slow to allow commercial sports betting operators, the marketplace has had to deal with an influx of gray and black market sportsbooks. Canadian regulators approved single-game sports betting on a national level last August in 2021. However, they left the implementation up to the regulators in each province.
At this point in time, most of the online sports betting markets that have launched in Canada are run by provincial lotteries. So, that has left an opening for the black and gray market operators to come in to fill. An estimation from the Canadian Gaming Association states that black and gray market operators in Canada take in around $14 billion annually in bets, with $4 billion from the gray market alone.
However, with the upcoming launch of commercial sportsbook online operators in Ontario, this could mean the end of the gray market in the province. Now that the operators have the ability to operate legally, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has made it known that they expect these operators to try to go through the necessary regulatory approvals to do so. Any operators that fail to do so in a timely manner will have an uphill battle should they choose to apply for a license eventually.
Despite being a major online sportsbook operator around the world, bet365 has yet to capture a stronghold in the North American, particularly U.S., market. As of this writing, bet365 is live in New Jersey and has plans to launch in the Colorado market too. Being able to launch in Ontario could be a great move for the company in their plans to make their name in the North American sports betting market.
Bet365 not only has a new app launched in Canada, but it also launched a free-to-play bracket challenge for March Madness. The bracket challenge was available in both Canada and the United States and offers users the chance to win $6 million (CAD) — if they correctly predict the outcome of all 63 games (entries are now closed). While the odds of doing so are quite low, this bracket challenge is a smart move for bet365 in anticipation of its launch into the legal Ontario sports betting market.
Interested customers had to be 18-years-old or older to participate in the bracket challenge and approved by bet365. Even if a customer does not win, there will be prizes dolled out for the top 250 players in the bracket challenge. The next largest prize after the $6 million reward for a perfect bracket is $125,000, with the reward falling to $30,000 for the next place winner.
Because it has operated in the gray market in Canada for years, bet365 already has a built-in fanbase it can hope to pull from when it launches its legal Ontario online sports betting operation. This is the advantage that some gray market operators will have over bigger-name sportsbook operators when launching in the province.
Some other operators who have been awarded Ontario sports betting licenses as of this writing are PointsBet Canada, 888 Holdings, Unibet, theScore Bet, BetRivers Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and BetMGM. Some other major U.S. sportsbook operators may be holding out due to a lack of brand recognition in the area.
Written by Allie Nelson, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.
The featured image for this post was sourced on Pixabay.
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