Just before last weekend’s Super Bowl LVIII, iGaming Ontario released some interesting data regarding football wagering in Canada’s most populous province. It was revealed that since April 1, 2023, Ontarian sports fans have wagered more than CA$1.4 billion on football on the province’s over 50 legal iGaming operators. It is a 50% improvement over the prior fiscal year.
It should be mentioned that in April 2022, Ontario kicked off the first of its kind online gambling market for private operators bringing over 50 private brands to its iGaming scene since then. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and iGO oversee the new sector. However, the latest number applies to all football action, including the CFL, and not just the NFL.
Projecting Record-Breaking Numbers
In a statement from Friday, iGO remarked that the rise in popularity of sports betting is a testament to Ontarians being driven away from unregulated websites to platforms where they can enjoy a safe betting environment contributing to Ontario’s economy. The current FY numbers are already an improvement from last year, and the Super Bowl betting volume is yet to be added to the amount.
Meanwhile, a representative of FanDuel Canada, said the operator projects record-breaking numbers from Super Bowl LVIII. They added the sportsbook expects the game to be the largest betting event of the year. The company cannot disclose precise numbers on handled bets due to its operating agreement with iGO, but it expects to see a year-over-year increase in volume.
Since the launch of the Ontarian market most of the sports betting activity has moved online. A new survey by the Responsible Gambling Council discovered that 41% of local bettors intended to wager on the Super Bowl with 80% of them planning to do it digitally. RGC also advised online players to utilize the website’s responsible gambling features found on regulated platforms.
Betting Ads Raise Concerns
In the meantime, the success of online sports betting has stirred the pot across Canada due to the overflow of wagering advertisements during sports broadcasts. Many parents and gambling experts from the province and the country expressed their concerns about the influx of gaming ads and promotions, as many children tend to watch these games, which could affect them.
After the outcry, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario decided to make some changes to advertising. In the summer of 2023, it announced its decision to ban the use of active or retired athletes from such promotions, as these figures are often appealing to children. The new standards come into play on February 28, 2024.
However, others believe that the limiting of ads would not be enough. Experts from the country are calling for an outright ban on all betting commercials. They explained young people are vulnerable to these ads which are making them gamble, while adding that kinds of ads groom children and youth to become life-long bettors and risk developing addictions in the future.
Source: Cousins, Ben “Ontarians have already gambled $1.4 billion on football as industry grows” BNN Bloomberg, February 9, 2024