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Ontario Esports Betting: AGCO to allow wagering on esports events

October 30, 2021

On September 9, 2021, the AGCO released their final sport and event betting standards for igaming.  Directly at the top of this important document, it says that: "These standards will apply to all sports, esports, novelty, betting exchange, and fantasy sports products."  This will have come as very good news to many operators that are looking at the possibility of becoming Ontario licensed betting sites. 

Many of the top brands that have been serving Canada from the 'grey market' and will no doubt want to serve Ontario, already have world-class esports betting event coverage and platforms.  They will be ecstatic that they will be able to leverage this important gaming vertical in Canada's most populous province.


Market size, growth trends & regulatory hurdles for esports betting

Esports betting is an area of explosive growth in the gaming industry. Esports itself has been described as the next billion dollar industry. Driven mostly by young gamers and gaming fans, esports betting is seen by gambling companies as a way to engage with a generation that is now less engaged with traditional sports and thus less engaged in sports betting.

In 2019, the esports betting market has been estimated to be worth approximately US$1 billion, but some expect it to grow to US$13 billion by 2025. While many are excited by the potential for growth and the obvious demographic trends that would certainly favour esports betting providers, esports has been dogged by match-fixing scandals.  These scandals and a perceived lack of sufficient sporting governance has led some gambling regulators to prevent their licensed operators from offering wagering on esports events.  Examples of limited esports betting or outright bans of it can be found in both Germany and the Netherlands.


Canada-based Esports-focused gambling site Rivalry applies for an iGaming Ontario license

Rivalry.com, an esports-focused online gambling company that operates from the Isle of Man jurisdiction, but is actually run from offices in Toronto and is listed on the TSX Venture exchange has applied for an iGaming Ontario license.  Simultaneously, as Rivalry became a legal Ontario operator, they moved to stop serving the rest of Canada from the so-called "grey market".  This further clouds the situation for those outside Ontario that are looking for Canadian esports betting providers. 

If Ontario had taken a more conservative approach over esports wagering like German and Dutch regulators have shown, we are not sure that Rivalry would have applied to serve Ontario in a fully legal market.  Given the growth of esports, the establishment of esports-first betting sites like Rivalry Ontario, and the varied coverage of esports at traditional online sportsbooks, it is can be difficult to identify which operators actually cover esports well. This is why we created a list of the top legal Ontario esports betting sites.  The number of providers on this Ontario list is actually quite short, as so few legal Ontario providers have a superior esports wagering experience - most brands do not even cover these events.


New customer offers: is there a difference between sports & esports bonuses?

Esports can sometimes be position as its own gaming vertical, separate from normal sports betting. However, both esports and sports are essentially the exact same type of gaming or gambling.  Even if you don't care about traditional sports betting, you would do well to take this under advisement.  Betting companies know that many esports fans see themselves and define themselves as "esports" fans as opposed to sports fans.  As such many companies have created dedicated & separate esports bonus offers.  In some cases these "esports" betting new customer offers will be at the same value level as normal Canadian sportsbook bonuses.  However, many of the dedicated esports offers will actually be much lower in value at the same company compared to the main sports offer.  If you can look past signing up for a "sports betting" bonus as opposed to your desired "esports betting" bonus, you can ensure you get the most value out of the given betting site promotion.  Oftentimes it just comes down to whether or not you can stomach the landing page of the bonus being framed as a "sports" page.  If you can do that, you can move on & get the full value offer, then get started betting on esports.