Ontario Not the Online Gambling Leader It Expected to Be, New Survey Shows

Posted on: June 17, 2022, 08:57h. 

Last updated on: April 20, 2023, 10:55h.

Canada’s decision last year to open its betting and gambling markets proved to be a smart move. However, Ontario, which expected to be the market leader, is finding it has competition from other provinces.

A sign welcomes visitors to Toronto, Ontario. The province has a growing gambling market, but it hasn’t grown as quickly as some others. (Image: Pinterest)

Ontario was ready to jump in as soon as Canada began discussing the possibility of offering an expanded sports betting market. It’s the largest province in Canada, with a population of almost 15 million, so it thought it would be the largest betting and gambling market.

Ontario waded into the online gambling and betting spaces in April. In contrast to most other provinces, which gave gambling control to their respective lottery operators, Ontario opened its market to private entities.

Ontario has over 20 gaming operators, and the province is doing well with its market. However, not as well as other parts of the country. According to a recent survey, the area known as Atlantic Canada is enjoying more traffic

Trepidation in Ontario

Atlantic Canada consists of four provinces – New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. Their combined population, around 2.5 million, is far less than that of Ontario.

Global research company Ipsos recently conducted a limited survey across Canada. It found that Atlantic Canada has the highest percentage of online gamblers and bettors out of all provinces.

The Atlantic Canada region has a penetration of 41%. Both Ontario and British Columbia follow with 33%. Quebec is next, with 26%, and Albert and Manitoba/Saskatchewan have 24% and 22%, respectively. Additionally, Atlantic Canada residents are more prone to sign up for online gambling and betting accounts.

The average there is 4.7. This is true in Ontario, where the province operates its OLG.ca betting platform. However, there is a much narrower margin.

In Ontario, private operators account for 25% of the registrations. OLG.ca has attracted 23%.

Despite the higher percentage of registrations in Atlantic Canada, the lottery-led model there and in other provinces isn’t proving overly successful. 56% of bettors and gamblers across the country still prefer to use private operators. Only 44% wager through the provincial government sites.

Quebec is the exception. Its Lotoquebec.com operator controls 57% of the market.

Private Operators Offer Better Deals

The reason for the greater attraction to private operators stems from enticements. The Ipsos survey found that most people preferred the odds, payouts, and range of activities private operators offer. The government-led sites, however, came up short.

For example, 36% of the respondents said private operators offer the best odds and payouts. Only 12% felt the government sites prevailed in the category. Notably, 43% said both types of operators offered comparable deals.

From the beginning, single-game betting was offered in British Columbia, Ontario, and New Brunswick. In addition, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island also began offering the activity. Alberta, like Ontario, followed suit and provided a market for third-party operators to enter.

Similar to the Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan, Yukon, Nunavut legalized single-game betting at retail outlets in November. Nova Scotia was the last province to allow its residents to wager on sports.