Free-to-play gaming operators in Ontario continue their advertising push as the province awaits the launch of its long-awaited open market for private operators. Bet99, Odds Shark, PokerStars, Jackpot City, and Party Casino have each bought an advertising spot on TSN’s Grey Cup broadcast on Sunday, December 12, 2021, to promote their free-to-play offerings.
Currently, the five companies offer free-to-play games on websites “dot net”, there, players have the option to then transfer to a “dot com” one where they can access real-money betting. It was expected that such grey market operators would be in trouble with the news of Ontario’s new market, however, business is going well while the province delayed the launch to February 2022.
Still Viable Options
One of the five companies Bet99, which was founded by former hockey player Doug Honnegger, has a pay-to-play wagering website is licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and gaming authorities in Malta and the Netherlands. The company is also expected to apply for a license in Ontario’s new market, and now the company is spending big on TV and digital advertising to attract new crowds.
Also, this month the Ottawa Senators became the first NHL team to have a gambling sponsor on their gear, as the Bet99.net logo is displayed on their helmets. While, this week, the company started its #BettingOnWomenIsNeverAGamble campaign by presenting it on a billboard at Dundas Square. Alysha Newman, Meghan Chayka, and Shea-Lynn Noyes were the faces for the campaign’s unveiling.
Sports marketing and sponsorship consultant Gavin Roth commented that Bet99 is spending big money on marketing now since most big-name players are waiting to start their massive marketing campaigns once the market opens. According to Mr. Roth, that has been the case in the U.S. and it is also seen in Canada.
He continued by saying that until the province kicks off its new regulated regime, the grey market brands will continue to enjoy plenty of interest from sports bettors. That is why the companies are taking advantage of it while they can. Mr. Roth expects to see more extensive marketing from FanDuel, BetMGM, PointsBet, and more operators once the launch edges closer in Q1 of 2022.
Tough Times Ahead
A recent study by OnlineCasinoList.com has indicated that grey market operators will have a tough time adapting to Ontario’s new iGaming regime. The research predicts that the province will see channelization away from the said operators, and bettors will move on to the regulated offerings, as according to estimations the new market would comprise 43% of the total revenue of the whole Canadian online gaming industry.
Recently, Canada’s most populous province reported an impressive surge in wagering during this year’s edition of the Grey Cup. For example, the BCLC’s PlayNow Sportsbook reported a rise of 260% in placed wagers in comparison to the last Grey Cup in 2019. OLG’s new PROLINE+ sportsbook has also attracted tons of betting activity. The surge can be explained by the legalization of single-event wagering in the summer.
Source: McAllister, Steve “The advertising push in Ontario is just beginning for sports betting companies”, Toronto Star, December 17, 2021