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PointsBet Ontario Review 2022

PointsBet Canada will soon be one of many legal & licensed Ontario betting sites.  PointsBet as a company should be applauded for their approach to the sports betting business in Canada and Ontario, with many local hires and unique sponsorship ideas.  However, with that being said, we're here to examine what their sports betting offering might look like for Ontarians when the market launches in early 2022.  As we look at their US offering for this preview, we have to say that we have some serious reservations, which we will outline just below.  While Ontario will surely get its own version of PointsBet with a unique layout of quick links for Canadian sporting preferences, from our perspective, there are some fundamental problems with the US offering that we would identify as serious drawbacks if they were to migrate north of the border.


PointsBet Ontario mobile betting: app only, no betting site

In their various US state versions, when you try to access their website on a tablet or mobile device, PointsBet will not even let you continue as per a typical betting site - they force you to download their app if you want to continue.  Given the rather important drawbacks of Ontario betting apps and the associated lack of data privacy, you can understand why we would have a serious problem with PointsBet Canada if they intend to approach their mobile sports betting offering in the same way for Ontario.  (This lack of a mobile site will be the same at FanDuel Ontario & DraftKings Ontario, assuming their US offerings move north as they are.  Not all US betting brand entrants will force app usage however. Both BetRivers Ontario and BetMGM Ontario will have mobile sites, though neither are in our list of top betting brands for the Province.)

Not having a functional mobile site should be a non-starter for any sports bettor that values their privacy.  Nearly every leading sports betting provider that will enter Ontario will offer a mobile betting site first, and may offer an app as a secondary option for those that want it.  If PointsBet Canada only offers a mobile betting app, there is no way we could recommend them as a provider - it is that important a choice to offer in our opinion.


PointsBet Ontario odds & margins: OK for the 'big 4', less so beyond 

PointsBet Canada has struck some online media partnerships ahead of the Ontario market open. Part of their marketing work has tried to position their brand as 'having the best odds'.  You can also see that they tout themselves as offering 'the best odds' on their PointsBet Canada placeholder website in advance of the market-open.  As we have clarified in our educational piece on sports betting odds, no sportsbook will ever have the best odds for every event. What we can do is look at the odds margins that they tend to use on various sports or leagues and the associated betting markets (or ways to bet) to see where they are competitive, and where they might not be competitive.

How does PointsBet USA fare on odds margins as a preview for Canada?  Well enough to be considered competitive against most big brands when you are interested in the so-called 'big four' leagues. For the most popular NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB betting markets, you'll find odds that look like 1.91/1.91 or -110/-110 on games where the odds are even on both results. This reflects a margin of just under 5%.  If this is your exclusive area of interest, PointsBet is a competitive option.

For other sports and leagues, PointsBet margins are higher, which means the odds are lower, paying out less. On English Premier League and other top soccer leagues, we found margins between 5% and 6% for the main markets.  We found similar margins for other sports like boxing. For sports like cricket however, the margins blow out to about 8%.  So if you intend to bet on events outside the the main four leagues and sports, know that you will not be getting the most competitive odds margins available, despite the marketing puffery that may be in use regarding PointsBet Canada and their odds.


PointsBet Ontario betting market coverage

For the most popular leagues in Canada, PointsBet offers a solid number of markets for each game, usually in the region of 200 depending on the sport.  For soccer, they do have many betting markets for the top European leagues, usually around 300 per match.  They will certainly tweak their Canadian offering to have markets on curling, a sport that they have identified as a key point of differentiation in the market, which we applaud. 

However, PointsBet Canada will also likely need to make further tweaks from their US offering on other important sports within the Canadian market given the multi-cultural demographic makeup of the population.  With so many UK and South Asian immigrants and ex-pats, PointsBet will need to improve their coverage of cricket and rugby for many people.  With their US offering, both cricket and rugby main betting markets had odds margins in the 6% to 7% region, which is uncompetitive compared to the big international brands that will also serve Ontario's legal market. PointsBet also does not offer very many betting markets on these sports, with only a few basic markets for big cricket matches, and perhaps under 20 markets for big rugby union matches. 

The international brands that will be licensed to serve Ontario often have margins at 5% or below on main markets for these sports and offer in excess of 100 betting markets on big matches. So if you maintain an interest in either of these sports, PointsBet would likely disappoint you unless they make big improvements.  Honestly, given that they started in Australia, where these sports are huge, this should not be a problem, but we'll have to see.


PointsBet Ontario payment methods

At the time of launch, PointsBet only offered payments via Visa, Mastercard and Trustly, which is a bank debit solution.

Remember that credit card payments at all iGaming Ontario betting sites (or grey market ones) are treated as cash advances, not purchases. This means that you'll pay interest from the moment of your deposit, even if you always pay your balance.  Plus, your bank will charge a ~$5 cash advance fee.  If you can, use a debit service to save on interest and fees.


PointsBet Canada Esports coverage: almost nothing

In previewing PointsBet and their Colorado offering, we found two things.  Yes, PointsBet supposedly offers Esports, but they have misnamed it as 'E-Sports'.  Unfortunately, while they have the navigation links and icons that show they might cover these events, at the time of our preview toward the potential PointsBet Ontario offering, the screen loaded no events: "No markets. There's nothing on right now..."  Except that there was plenty on at the time.  We also checked the PointsBet Australia site, where they covered a handful of events at a time when top esports betting sites, several of which will serve Ontario, covered nearly 50 events, with an array of markets across every major esport you could name.  So in the end, if you expect to bet on esports at all from Ontario, don't expect much once PointsBet Canada is live.  This will need improvement on their part.


PointsBet Canada alternate gaming verticals

In some US states, PointsBet is allowed to offer their iCasino gaming vertical, so it would be safe to assume that they will look to be one of many legal Ontario online casinos with both RNG casino games and live dealer games.  However, through all their various jurisdictions, we have not found an online poker room or online bingo offerings, where their customers can play against other people.  Only a few of Ontario's licensed online sportsbooks have the global scale that is needed to offer these kinds of games, as they require so many players to be online at any given moment.  


Where is PointsBet Canada available for play?

PointsBet Canada will first launch in the Ontario iGaming market in April 2022.  Having never operated from the so-called 'grey market', players in other provinces will need to wait for local provincial regulations to change in order for PointsBet Canada to apply to serve them.  For all Ontario licensed betting sites, players must have their physical location in Ontario in order to register or play.  Players need not be an Ontario resident.  So technically, residents in the border areas of Manitoba or Quebec could cross into Ontario in order to play at PointsBet Canada.  Once they are home in MB or QC though, geolocation technology will prevent app or site access.

Alberta has also stated that they are soliciting bids for two online and mobile sportsbook operators.  We would expect PointsBet Canada to be one of a handful of companies that look to serve Alberta.  This interest now has been confirmed in a press release


PointsBet Ontario Bottom Line: we reserve judgment

We will reserve final judgement until they arrive in Ontario for real. The big sticking point that we will be watching for is whether or not they offer a mobile sports betting site that can be used more privately through a mobile Internet browser like Chrome or Safari. We would not be able to recommend any Ontario sports betting offering that forces users to have their mobile experience solely through an app.  It's a non-starter for us.  Ontarians deserve an option to better-protect their data privacy, and apps simply do not allow for this.

However, if they offer a proper, fully functional mobile site, assuming you only care about betting on the events that are most popular in Canada (the so-called big four of the NFL, NHL, MBA & MLB), PointsBet may well be a solid option.  We would hope that they recognize the demographic differences in Canada compared to the US, so that there is a better offering on odds margins and available betting markets for various 'international' sports and esports.


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