Ontario Igaming’s Early Takeaways Marketing and Affiliates

Early takeaways from Ontario igaming - Marketing & affiliates

Ontario is the nation’s first open-regulated market for igaming and home to 40% of Canada’s population, was always going be appealing. Geoffrey Smorong provides an overview of the two-month period in which the first iGB affiliate was active.

Ontario is the Canadian province that launched an online gambling marketplace licensed for private players. 

Ontario has a population of nearly 15,000,000 people. This makes it one the largest North American markets for regulation-based internet gaming. The Ontario iGaming market will likely be a sizable one financially, as it’s expected to generate gross revenues of CA$989m by the end of this year and CA$1.86bn by 2026, according to VIXIO. 

After a couple of months, we can now assess how far Ontario’s Igaming Industry has advanced. 

Early engagement 

The Ontario igaming market has attracted a lot of attention. The 24 licensed brands of iGaming Ontario and Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario have 15 licensees. More than 70 operators are also looking for licenses. GBG conducted a panel and members from iGO presented the results.. The regulator has also announced that they won’t be capping the number of licences. 

Geoffrey Smorong Vice President Operations Income Access

Because of all the hype surrounding Ontario, major US brands have expanded their affiliate marketing efforts in Ontario. After the AGCO/iGO regulations had been implemented, this was possible. They include large brands such as Caesars Interactive, FanDuel Interactive, DraftKings Interactive and DraftKings Interactive.  

Recently, an affiliate program was opened by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. This is the province lottery and the sole regulated Ontarian iGaming provider. Canada’s premier province lottery has opened an affiliate channel. These are exciting developments for affiliates, as more operators are moving into the space, offering them multiple ways to pursue new partnerships – and significant revenue opportunities – as a result. 

As with any new market that opens up, it’s vital to understand the regulations that have been put into place to avoid any unnecessary issues. Both operators and affiliates can’t market in the same way that they might just a few kilometres south in Michigan.  

Ontario allows promotion of products related to igaming. According to the AGCO, “advertising and marketing materials that communicate gambling inducements, bonuses and credits are prohibited, except on an operator’s gaming site and through direct advertising and marketing, after receiving active player consent.” There are other rules as well, but this presents a significant challenge in comparison to the market in New York, for example, where operators and affiliates can promote this type of offer. 

The AGCO has already issued fines in a handful of cases to firms for violating advertising and inducement laws. Many brands were already subject to fines in excess of CA$30,000.  

Another distinction is that advertising operators must assume liability in Ontario. The AGCO has established guidelines for affiliates to help them create marketing materials.

We spoke with Anton Hedlund, Account Manager at Compary, an affiliate that’s moved into Ontario to help players make smarter decisions through data, to see how this differentiation affects both affiliates and operators. He said: “We haven’t seen complaints from the brands that want to move into that market. Everyone understands the situation and realises that affiliates and operators need to adapt to the regulations together.” 

View affiliate 

With no limit on the number of operators which can receive licences and an exciting new market of users to connect with, it’s an ideal time to be an affiliate with a presence in Ontario. There will be more operators in the future. You have the opportunity to make connections with other brands, and deliver high-quality content to your target audience.  

The regulations have been a large part of the conversation surrounding Ontario in the igaming market, but there’s a positive side that affiliates should consider focusing on. While the relatively strict marketing rules may challenge affiliates, according to Hedlund: “[I]t also helps ensure responsible gaming practices and safe payment to protect users.” 

The fact that advertisers in Ontario are compliant with advertising regulations makes it easier for affiliates. For productive working relationships to continue, affiliates should ensure they adhere to regulations. As operators are assuming the risk, they’ll want to work with affiliates whose marketing strategies are watertight from a regulatory perspective. 

Affiliates often face problems like know-your-customer, which makes it difficult for customers to register with the brands they love.  

Hedlund observed: “We’ve heard from players regarding the KYC policy. Even if it is there to protect players, it causes them some headaches as they need to provide all their information to an operator.”  

He added: “In general, users want to engage with a product that is fast and efficient. Since the KYC policy slows the process down quite a bit, and some players don’t want to include all their information, we have seen that some operators don’t convert as well as others with a simpler registration.” 

Here are some key messages 

Nearly 40% of Canada’s population lives in Ontario, so it is no surprise that this market was going to prove to be lucrative for operators and affiliates. Just a few short months after the initial announcement, this race is on to capture this large audience. Operators are flooding the market, creating a great opportunity for affiliates. This market is growing and affiliates should adhere to all regulations by the government gambling regulator. Affiliates will benefit from the development of strong relationships as well as Ontarian Igaming Market expansion.  

Geoffrey Smorong is VP, Operations for Paysafe’s Income Access. A driven leader with 10 years of experience in igaming and Affiliate Management, he’s been an important contributor to Income Access since 2012, when he started on the team as an Account Manager.  

Don’t miss our Ontario-focused sessions on Day 1 of next month’s iGB Live! event in Amsterdam. At 12:50 on July 6, a panel discussion will be held with experts to discuss the lessons learned by operators and affiliates from similar bonuses-restricted marketplaces. Receptional, an international digital marketing agency will give actionable insights from their research on the sport betting industry at 14:20. This program is available to learn more You can find it here Register here.


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