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Top sportsbooks coming to Ontario's legal market


NorthStar Gaming partners Kambi & Playtech for Ontario launch

February 1, 2022

We at SNBET have made our position pretty clear on Torstar's entry into Ontario's legal betting & iGaming market.  From our perspective, there will be lots of competition and far fewer players to be acquired than is expected.  People constantly try to equate Ontario with New York or New Jersey in terms of the size of the market and thus how attractive it is. 

Ontario is attractive, but it was attractive to the 'grey market' operators 15 years ago, and most of those top brands that were in Ontario 10 and 15 years ago will be getting licenses to become legal providers.  Add big US operator brand entrants with big marketing budgets like FanDuel, BetMGM and DraftKings, and the competition gets even tougher for the Ontario players that may be available to be acquired.

In the above piece to which we link, we talk about a failed UK bookmaker brand that was spun out of 'The Sun' tabloid.  It was a deal that cost its Australian operator tens of millions of pounds to exit.  Even though the 'SunBets' brand acquired quite a number of players, it wasn't nearly enough to cover their costs, which is why the brand eventually stopped trading for sports betting. 

This is the fear we have for the 'NorthStar Gaming' venture.  Will they be able to get enough players through theStar.ca, the Toronto Star app and other VerticalScope properties in order to make it viable?

But there is now hope that NorthStar can have one of the better legal Ontario sportsbooks and online casinos.  The 'SunBets' iGaming platform was an antiquated one as used by its Australian operator.  They were seemingly going on-the-cheap in this regard.  Perhaps they didn't think that the product they used would matter. They would just soak up all of 'The Sun's' readers as customers and that would be that.  While the UK iGaming market is highly saturated, and the main reason for its failure, the poor product as used by 'SunBets' certainly contributed to its demise.

NorthStar Gaming on the other hand has looked to go in the other direction: best-in-class.  On January 11, 2022, NorthStar announced that they have partnered with Playtech for their iCasino verticals.  This could give NorthStar an impressive array of RNG and live-dealer games as it looks to offer one of the most engaging Ontario online casinos that it can. 

Today, February 1, 2022 NorthStar announced that it had partnered with Kambi for their online sports betting platform.  With Kambi, NorthStar's sports betting capabilities should be very good, as it is potentially an excellent platform. They will just need to differentiate their version of it as best they can, as competitors in the Ontario market like BetRivers, Casumo, LeoVegas, Unibet, 32Red, and MaximBet all use the Kambi sportsbook platform as well.

With products like these, NorthStar Gaming is giving themselves a chance to succeed, but their acquisition of customers is going to be slow.  We can't know the structure of their deals with these iGaming partners.  We would hope that their fee structure is essentially based solely on a share of gaming revenues.  If NorthStar Gaming has significant minimums to achieve and fees that go with them, things could get tough, if player acquisition will be as difficult as we expect it to be.

For the sake of good Canadian journalism, we hope they make it.