Ontario has become “one of the most competitive” online gaming markets in North America, says Penn Interactive boss

Ontario has become “one of the most robust and competitive online gaming markets in North America,” said Benjie Levy, Head of Penn Interactive and President and COO of theScore, as the Canadian province celebrates its first anniversary of regulated gaming.

“We’ve enjoyed an incredibly successful first year of operation, in which Ontario has become PENN’s top-performing market in North America,” added Levy in a statement shared by the operator. “theScore Bet resonated with customers in the same way our sports media app has for years, resulting in consistent, strong performance across sports betting and online casino.”

Ontario’s regulated online gaming market launched on April 4, 2022, becoming the first Canadian province to establish a legal market for private operators. According to the most recent figures released in January by iGaming Ontario, the market experienced a 71% increase in total gaming revenue in the third fiscal quarter.

From October 1 through December 31, total gaming revenue was CAD 457 million ($341 million), up 182% from the opening quarter (CAD 162 million). Moreover, since opening on April 4, Ontario’s sports betting industry has surpassed CAD 21.6 billion ($16 billion) in total wagers.

“Ontario has distinguished itself while proving the widespread benefits that derive from a consumer-friendly and commercially minded framework,” theScore further stated. “We believe Ontario’s successful model provides a road map for other provinces to modernize their online gaming frameworks and stamp out the illegal grey market.”

According to the brand, Ontario is now one of the most robust online gaming markets in North America, thanks in part to “the successful establishment” of a gaming framework by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and iGaming Ontario, which features comprehensive responsible gaming measures and contributes to economic development throughout the province. 

NorthStar Gaming CEO Michael Moskowitz has echoed this sentiment: “It’s incredible how fast this market has expanded,” he told paNOW. “We expected strong demand from consumers and players and that’s exactly what we’ve experienced on our platform. We’re seeing very strong and growing demand from gamers in Ontario and I don’t see any of that stopping.”

The upward trend is expected to continue with a fourth quarter that included both the Super Bowl and March Madness, the two most popular sports betting events. Additionally, bettors now have more options: Ontario had 18 operators and 31 total gaming sites in the first quarter; there are reportedly now 46 and over 70, respectively.

However, Ontario’s expansion has also seen some operators left behind. In March, Coolbet said it would be exiting the online gaming market early this month. While 70 sites imply plenty of variety for consumers, the crowded space makes it harder for operators, especially smaller ones, to fight for their piece of the iGaming pie.

The company credited its hardships in Ontario to “an intensely competitive environment,” which could explain why it is now pulling the plug in the province. More brands could be weighing whether to also exit the province, according to experts, as it is harder for them to see a path to profitability.

Another change going forward: the provincial regulator is set to find a new boss after the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s Board of Directors announced earlier this year that Registrar and CEO Tom Mungham would be retiring at the end of 2023, thus ending his 33-year career of public service as an Ontario civil servant for multiple ministries.