Casino Game Wagers Far Outpacing Sports Betting in Ontario

iGaming Ontario (iGO), a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, released figures from its Q1 2023 operations. It is the kind of transparency that was not expected but is most definitely welcome, especially for those trying to get a better idea of the foothold that online gambling has in the province.

The numbers have been interesting since Ontario launched a regulated gaming market just a year ago. That regulated market allowed licensed operators the provide services that include sports betting, casino games, and poker services.

There is a lot of information to glean from those numbers. It also gives us insight into one important thing, and that is just how much more online casino game wagers are than sports betting or poker. This was one of the main takeaways from the findings and a very interesting trivia for the Ontario legal gambling market.

iGO Data Released

The data released by iGO recently shows that more than $14 billion was wagered by Ontarians from April-June 2023. Breaking those numbers down even further gives us better insight into which markets are having the greatest impact since the regulated market was created.

Perhaps most surprising is just how little poker contributes to that $14 billion in wagers. Just $350 million was wagered in peer-to-peer poker games. Given the popularity of poker at times since 2000, that number is much lower than many could have expected.

Sports betting is second, with just over $2 billion in wagers. Those bets include regular sports, eSports, prop bets, and novelty bets. Sportsbooks are popping up with regularity not only in Ontario but across Canada. It was previously illegal to place single-game wagers, with only parlay bets being allowed.

Leading the way by a large margin is the online casino industry. Bettors in Ontario wagered $11.6 billion on casino games. That includes both live and computer-based table games, slots, and even peer-to-peer bingo.

It was a bit of a surprise to some to see casino games have such a lead over sports betting in terms of total dollars wagered.

Ontario Is Leading The Way

On the whole, these wagers generated around $545 million in revenues. During the first quarter of last year, the first of regulated operation, those revenues were $162, showing exponential growth in a short period of time.

What’s even more interesting is the 900,000 active player accounts registered over the last three quarters. The extra revenue is great for private-market operators and government revenues, but there are concerns about problem gambling.

Ontario should also be lauded because of the infrastructure put into place to provide support for the aforementioned problem of gambling as well as protection for consumers. Ontario provides more than $31 million in support for problem gambling, with the bulk of it going toward treatment programs.

There is a strong belief in further growth not only in Ontario but in other provinces as well. That is especially true after seeing exponential growth from 2022 to 2023. The belief is that operators will refine what they have to offer in order to better need the changing needs of their target audience. With the growth of mobile apps, making it easier to partake in all three areas of online gambling, it is expected that those numbers will indeed grow.

Industry Expectations

Prior to the launch of regulated gambling in Ontario, sports betting was under the spotlight. With the amount of advertising, ties to the athletes themselves, and concerns over integrity in those sports, both leagues and broadcasters have been under pressure to reduce the pedal-to-the-floor exposure.

The initial numbers have been in line with what industry experts expected in terms of a gap between online casino games and sports betting. In one year’s time, from April 4, 2022, to the end of March 2023, $35.6 billion in total wagers were placed.

Of that, almost $28 billion went to casino games. That equates to nearly four times the amount of wagers for sports betting ($7 billion), with peer-to-peer poker coming up in the rear at $992 million over the last year.

Why Casinos Are More Popular Than Sports Betting

If there is one major takeaway from all of this, it is that online gambling is taking place more than ever before. While there was definitely a market before the launch of regulation not only in Ontario but elsewhere, the numbers have exploded since.

There are two reasons why casinos are leading the way when it comes to online wagers. For starters, it is a 24/7 entertainment option. Though sportsbooks are also 24/7, players can log into their preferred online casino and begin enjoying their favourite casino games in just a few clicks or taps.

The second reason is due to the limited nature of sports betting. You can really only do one thing, though that one thing does come in many shapes and forms. At an online casino, you have access to hundreds of game titles across slots, poker, roulette, blackjack, and even some niche games. Sports betting may close the gap eventually, but for now, casino betting remains king.

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