Ontario’s legal iGaming market just celebrated its one-year anniversary after opening on April 4, 2022, and in that time has delivered roughly C$35.6bn ($26.41bn) in total wagers and approximately C$1.4bn ($1.04bn) in total gaming revenue, positioning the province among the top five jurisdictions in North America.

That, considering the less than stellar figures in iGaming Ontario’s (iGO) first public report of market performance, where on 31 gaming websites, 18 regulated operators generated just shy of C$4.1bn ($3.1bn) from April 2022 through June 2022 and total gaming revenue came in at C$162m ($124m). There are now more than 70 websites offering sports betting, casino games, and poker in Ontario.

Ontario’s Regulated Online Gaming Market

Bordering the U.S. and the Great Lakes, the province in east-central Canada, where there are now safe and legit online casinos to play at, was the very first to launch an open, regulated iGaming market where a number of private operators of online casinos and sportsbooks were allowed to legally take bets, after years of activity by “grey” operators – regulated and licensed outside the country.

“Ontario’s igaming market has displaced the pre-existing unregulated market and made Ontario a recognized leader internationally in this industry since its launch in April 2022,” proclaimed Attorney General Doug Downey.

“We are truly proud of this strong, responsible, competitive online gaming model. I want to especially commend the strong leadership of Executive Director Martha Otton, Board Chair Dave Forestell and the rest of the team at iGaming Ontario for helping us transform Ontario into a global leader in the sector.”

According to iGO’s recent report, over 1.6 million active player accounts – on online casino websites run by more than 40 operators it currently has agreements with – have made the Canadian province one of the largest iGaming markets on the continent. Considering the industry opened with just a dozen operators, that’s quite an achievement.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) internet gaming subsidiary’s examination of player choices and market trends over the last year show that, on average, the monthly spend for each individual player account is approximately C$70 ($51.92).

AGCO has certified 5,000-plus games for use in Ontario, not including results from the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC), which is responsible for the Proline brand retail and online sports betting products in the province.

“Every player who places a wager with a legal operator is doing so in a safe, regulated, and protected environment,” said Otton. “I want to thank the players, our 40-plus operators and our government partners for placing their trust in us. Together we can help this market continue its strong performance.”

Ipsos Survey

Further evidence that the market opening has seen players shift from gambling on unregulated sites to regulated sites that are in compliance with player protection and game integrity standards in Ontario. This shifting of sites can be in a survey conducted last month by market research company, Ipsos.

Commissioned by the AGCO and iGO, the results of the survey were released by the former on Tuesday at the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) panel discussion event at the Toronto Region Board of Trade. Of the more than 1,100 Ontarians surveyed, 85.3 percent of respondents who gambled online in the province over the previous three months, said they did so on regulated sites. According to the AGCO, an estimated 70 percent of online gambling took place on unregulated sites prior to the launch of the market.

The most popular sports to bet on, per the report, were basketball at 28 percent, soccer at 15 percent, football at 14 percent, hockey at 9 percent and baseball came in last at 8 percent. Meanwhile, slots led in the online casino category with 48 percent of all casino wagers. Live dealer table games were at 32 percent and electronic table games were left with the remaining 19 percent.

Also speaking at the April 4th CGA event, AGCO Chief Operating Officer Dave Phillips, said, “Those numbers speak for themselves. That’s a truly substantial shift. These are very encouraging numbers, where we are after the first year, but we have a lot of work to do.

“For so many years, so many voices out there said this couldn’t be done, that Canada’s gaming laws posed too many barriers to permit the creation of a truly competitive marketplace, that the unregulated market had become too entrenched, too beyond reach, and that it would be impossible to create a strong effective system of regulatory oversight.”

Will Other Provinces Follow

Considering the success of the year-old market, the question is can we expect more Canadian provinces to follow Ontario in legalizing online gambling?

At the CGA event, there was an air of optimism that other provinces will follow suit and open up even though operators appear to be content in Canada‘s most populous province.

“Twelve months from now I don’t see any reason, based on the great work that Ontario has done, that we can’t see one, if not more, jurisdictions in Canada following their lead,” said Benjie Levy, head of PENN Interactive and president and chief operating officer of theScore.