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Takeaways on Ontario’s igaming

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Ontario, the province that has nearly 40% of Canada’s population and the first non-monopoly regulated market for igaming operators to launch in the country, was always going be a very attractive prospect. Geoffrey Smorong analyses the first two months of iGB Affiliate.

Ontario, Canada’s first province to have a private igaming industry, opened their doors on 4 April.

Ontario is home to nearly 15,000,000 people, which makes it the biggest new market in North America for online gambling. According to VIXIO, the Ontario igaming industry will be financially significant, with gross revenues expected to reach CA$989m at the end of 2018 and CA$1.86bn in 2026.

It’s been a couple of months since the expansion of the igaming industry in Ontario began. This is a good time to evaluate how it has progressed.

Early engagement

Ontario’s igaming industry has been a major success, as 15 operators are available under 24 brands. They have all received licenses from the regulators, iGaming Ontario and Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. According to a panel of iGO members and GBG, more than 70 operators are currently in the process to apply for a license. The regulator announced they will not be capping licenses.

Geoffrey Smorong is VP of operations and income access.

Many large US operators, with all of the excitement surrounding this market have expanded their affiliate marketing programs into Ontario following the AGCO regulations and iGO regulations. These include major brands such as FanDuel and PointsBet.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, the Ontario lottery, (and until April the only licensed igaming provider in Ontario), has recently introduced an affiliate program in the province. This is the first time a provincial lottery in Canada launches a channel for affiliates. Affiliates will be excited by these developments, since more operators have entered the market, and they can pursue multiple partnerships, and generate significant revenue.

To avoid unnecessary problems, you should be familiar with the rules and regulations in place for any new markets. Affiliates and operators can’t do the same marketing as they would a few kilometers south, in Michigan.

Ontario does allow for the promotion of gaming products. However, the AGCO states that “advertising materials and marketing material which communicates gambling inducements and bonuses are prohibited except for on the operator’s website and direct marketing and advertising after active player consent.”

The AGCO has already issued fines in a few instances for advertising and inducement violations. Already, several brands have received fines exceeding CA$30,000.

In Ontario, the AGCO has set up guidelines for the creation of marketing material by affiliates. This is a big difference.

Anton Hedlund is the account manager for Compary. This affiliate has recently moved to Ontario in order to provide players with data that will help them make better decisions. We wanted to know how this difference affects affiliates as well operators. He stated: “We’ve not seen any complaints from brands who want to enter that market.” “Everyone understands the current situation, and realizes that operators and affiliates need to work together to comply with the new regulations.”

Affiliate view

It’s a great time to have an Ontario-based affiliate presence. There is no restriction on how many operators can be licensed and there are a lot of new users that you can connect with. Over the next few months, more operators are likely to go live. This presents an excellent opportunity for affiliates who want to reach out and connect with new brands while offering their audiences the most relevant content.

While the regulations are a major part of Ontario’s igaming industry, there are also positive aspects that affiliates can focus on. Hedlund says that while the marketing regulations may be a challenge for affiliates, they also help ensure safe gaming and payment practices to protect players.

Affiliates are less burdened by the fact that the operators of Ontario bear the responsibility for compliance with advertising regulations. Affiliates must adhere to the rules to keep a productive relationship with operators. Operators will only work with affiliates who have a marketing strategy that is compliant from a legal perspective.

The KYC checks are one of the challenges that affiliates face. This makes it hard for customers to register and sign up with brands.

Hedlund noted: “We have heard players’ concerns about the KYC Policy. It is a good thing that it exists to protect the players but it can be a headache for them to have to give all of their personal information to whoever they are dealing with.

The user wants a fast, efficient product. We have observed that KYC slows down the registration process and many players do not want to provide all of their personal information. As a result, some operators are less likely to convert than others who use a more simple form.

Takeaways

Ontario, which accounts for nearly 40% of Canada’s population, was always going to be a lucrative market. The race to reach this huge audience has continued for a few months. Affiliates have a great opportunity as operators are flooding in. Affiliates can take full advantage of the growing igaming industry in Ontario by following the guidelines laid out by the gaming regulator. They should also establish strong relationships with operators, and highlight the benefits of the expanding market.


Geoffrey Smorong, VP of Operations for Paysafe Income Access is an experienced leader with 10 years’ experience in igaming and affiliate management. He is a driven leader who has 10 years’ experience in affiliate management and igaming. Since 2012, when he joined the Income Access team as an Account Manager, he was an integral part of Income Access.


On Day 1, next month, don’t forget to attend our Ontario sessions! event in Amsterdam. An expert panel at 12:50 on 6th July will examine how affiliates and operators are applying the lessons they have learned from other bonus-restricted market. At 14:20, a leading digital agency, Receptional, will present their findings based upon research conducted in the early years of the sports betting industry. Register here for more details about the program.

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