TORONTO — Ontario's fledgling sports-betting market continues to flourish in its first year of operation.
According to figures released Thursday by iGaming Ontario, the market experienced a 71 per cent increase in total gaming revenue in the third fiscal quarter. From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, total gaming revenue was $457 million compared to $267 million in the second quarter (July to September).
That figure is up 182 per cent from the opening quarter ($162 million). Since opening fully April 4, Ontario's sports-betting industry has surpassed $21.6 billion in total wagers and reached $886 million in total gaming revenue.
Those numbers come before a fourth quarter that will include the Super Bowl and March Madness, the two most popular sports-betting events. The Ontario launch came after last year's NFL championship game and on the final day of the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
"We will absolutely see the fourth-quarter numbers get even better for those reasons," said Dave Briggs, a managing editor with PlayCanada.com. "Super Bowl is the biggest sports-betting event on the calendar and March Madness is pretty close behind it.
"We also see in Canada, different than the U.S., a lot of hockey betting. People are going to get into hockey, we're going to get into the hockey playoffs close to the end of that quarter. So you put those three things together and it has to go up, especially on the sports-betting side, and then on the casino side it's just more awareness of them being out there."
Once the Super Bowl teams are decided — the AFC and NFC division championships are slated for Sunday — Briggs expects operators to kick into high gear leading up to Feb. 12 game in Glendale, Ariz.
"You're going to see operators really, really try to attract customers as we get closer to the Super Bowl here in Ontario," he said.
PlayCanada.com is a site that produces news, analysis and research related to online gaming and sports betting in Canada.
iGaming Ontario (iGO) is a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). It conducts and manages internet gaming in the province.
The figures also show total wagers of $11.53 billion, a 91 per cent increase over the second quarter ($6.04 billion). The first-quarter handle was $4.076 billion.
That doesn't include either promotional wagers (bonuses) or figures from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s online operations.
The number of active player accounts grew 45 per cent to 910,000 (compared to 628,000 in the second quarter). Overall, active player accounts are up 85 per cent from the opening quarter (492,000).
IGO defines active player accounts as those with cash and/or promotional wagering activity. They don't represent unique players, as individuals may have accounts with multiple operators.
The number of operators went to 36, a 50 per cent increase over the second quarter. The 68 gaming websites also represented a 62 per cent boost.
The average monthly spend per active player account of $167 was 18 per cent more than in the second quarter.
But while Ontario's figures show definite improvement, Briggs says the province remains behind comparable American jurisdictions.
Ontario's overall revenue to date (US$661.5 million) would rank it behind New Jersey ($1.86 billion), Pennsylvania ($1.74 billion) and Michigan ($1.53 billion) but ahead of Connecticut ($332 million), West Virginia: ($129 million) and Delaware ($21 million).
Those states, like Ontario, have both online casinos and sportsbooks.
Combining all three quarters, New Jersey’s revenue was nearly triple Ontario's. Pennsylvania (over 2.5 times) and Michigan (more than double) were also significantly higher.
"Ontario's numbers are good because you're starting from a place of incremental money," Briggs said. "It's just that if you're going to measure the success of Ontario as a jurisdiction, it's got a long way to go to match ones in the U.S. that also offer both online casino and sportsbooks."
Ontario's third-quarter figure (US$341 million) is also less than New Jersey ($691 million), Pennsylvania ($677 million) and Michigan ($584 million) but still ahead of Connecticut ($135 million), West Virginia ($53 million) and Delaware ($9 million).
Ontario's population of about 14.5 million is higher than New Jersey (9.3 million), Pennsylvania (13 million) and Michigan (10 million). And the province has more live online gaming operators (42) than New Jersey (33), Michigan (15), Pennsylvania (14), West Virginia (six), Connecticut and Delaware (both three).
Ontario had 18 operators and 31 total gaming sites in the first quarter. That increased to 24 and 42, respectively, in the second quarter.
One reason, Briggs said, could be that the Ontario market is still in its infancy.
"When it started in April you still had many people who didn't know it existed," Briggs said. "So now over nine months of being bombarded with ads on hockey and football games, people are now much more aware of it.
"You see that in the growth of the accounts, that really does tell you it's still growing and will continue to grow. And we're also adding more operators so there's more players for people to take an interest in."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2023.
Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press