Regulated online sports betting coming to Ontario in 2018?
Recent reports indicate that the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp (OLG) is keen on expanding its sports betting products. That news was first confirmed by OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti, who lauded the effects of a “substantially improved sports betting product”, complete with “new products”. Further confirmation came yesterday as the regulator’s Request for Proposal (RFP) went live.
The OLG’s vision is to expand its existing Ontario sports betting services into the online realm. The RFP is a request for bids from service providers that want to help them achieve that goal. In particular, the OLG will be looking for a provider with a proven software platform for online/mobile betting.
Ontario’s Dive Into Online Sports Betting
Of the five Canadian jurisdictions that currently support online gambling regulation, Ontario is the only one that doesn’t provide an online or mobile route for sports wagering.
The Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC) provides internet lottery and sports betting for the provinces of New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. The British Columbia Lottery Corp (BCLC) presents a wide range of online gambling options – casino, bingo, lottery, poker, and sports betting – via British Columbia‘s PlayNow website. The same offerings are available in Manitoba, via a shared player agreement with BC. A similar product is provided by Loto-Quebec via EspaceJeux in Quebec.
Ontario has been hosting its iGaming website, PlayOLG, since January of 2015. Online lottery and casino games are available, but after nearly three years, sports betting is still off the menu. It’s clear now that sports betting is coming to OLG’s interactive market, but when?
Ontario Sports Betting Coming Online in 2018?
Tony Bitonti, senior manager of OLG’s media relations department, had a lot to say on the matter. However, he was unable to narrow down any specific dates. The regulator was only able to estimate that a service provider will be chosen by the fall of 2018.
What he did confirm is that the expansion isn’t just aimed at taking existing sports betting options digital. OLG will be delivering new products as well, like novelty prop bets and eSports. That includes an update of all current wagering terminals to support the new range of betting options.
“In the last few years,” Bitonti referenced betting on eSports “[it] has surged in popularity. There are hundreds of eSport tournaments events held each year, many in Ontario.”
He went on to describe the prop bets OLG is bringing to Ontario. “Novelty betting is placing a bet on an outcome that’s not part of a sports or athletic event. For example, the winner of an election or the gender of a baby about to be born to royalty,” he said.
In addition, he said the expanded “OLG sports offering will include new products that will provide more betting options on a wider variety of events, including all major North American sports leagues and major international sports.
“The new terminals will allow OLG to considerably improve the range of product offerings through its retail channel, including a substantially improved sports betting product,” he concluded.