American bettors may be used to seeing sportsbook advertisements for extravagant welcome bonuses, but the Ontario sports betting industry will be restrictive. Instead, Ontario bettors will see celebrity endorsers, pro-Canada messaging, and branded ads. Bettors won’t be bombarded with welcome bonuses until they’ve signed up for a private-run sportsbook that offers them.
Ontario’s sports betting bill currently prohibits some of the bonus-centered advertising that bettors see in the United States and the United Kingdom. It’s a responsible gambling step that the National Council of Problem Gambling (NCPG) will welcome. It has been working on ways to change the names of bonuses, like risk-free bet, which risks reactivating problem gamblers.
“I can tell you anecdotally [that] members of our recovery committee are unanimous that is causing lots of harm for people in recovery for gambling problems because it seems almost foolish if you don’t go back and bet because you can’t lose,” Keith Whyte, Executive Director of the NCPG said. “It’s a very difficult proposition for someone who’s down thousands of dollars and they may feel the only way they can get back that money is to keep gambling more.”
The impact of bonus names is an area of ongoing study at the NCPG. But as of now, Ontario will enforce limits on bonus advertising to prevent problem gambling. PointsBet Canada is already preparing for Ontario’s new marketing limitations.
PointsBet’s Response To Ontario Sports Betting Regulations
In the United States, PointsBet offers two risk-free bets that total $2,000. It hasn’t announced an Ontario bonus yet. But it has planned a marketing campaign that doesn’t focus on a pricy bonus offer.
“The challenge is going to be about creating a true brand connection with the user, not just trying to convince users to come over for free money,” Nic Sulsky, PointsBet Canada’s Chief Commercial Officer.
PointsBet isn’t treating Ontario like another American state. Ontario is unique from American sports betting markets and even from other Canadian provinces.
“We’re very tribal,” Sulsky said. “We love our teams. There are regional fanbases that are extraordinarily passionate. The Ontario sports fans love MLS and TLC. They love the Blue Jays. They love the Raptors.”
Should bonuses not be as relied on, PointsBet’s marketing will instead work on building a brand that focuses on authenticity. Whether Ontarians believe in those marketing messages remains to be seen. But understanding Ontarian sports bettors as a group is especially important with Ontario’s sports betting marketing restrictions.
How PointsBet Is Approaching The Ontario Branding Challenge
PointsBet Canada’s marketing campaign began in mid-January with its ad featuring the Trailer Park Boys playing professional hockey players. Through ads like these, PointsBet Canada hopes to signal is that it’s a genuine Canadian brand.
“There’s something very specific about being Canadian and I think that’s what the audience up here is going to see,” Sulsky said. “They’re going to see a brand that actually cares about this country.”
Appeals to Canadian patriotism will permeate PointsBet Canada’s Ontario marketing messaging. It’s one way to build an identifiable brand without relying on welcome bonuses. Each sportsbook operator will take a unique approach to building its own identity.
Partnerships will be critical to each sportsbook’s success in capturing market share in Ontario, too. PointsBet plans to use its partnerships with the NHL Alumni Association and Curling Canada to build its Ontario customer base. The power of those partnerships includes leveraging responsible gaming messaging.
“One of the reasons that the NHL Alumni Association wanted to do a partnership with PointsBet and PointsBet Canada is because we are absolutely dedicated to those responsible frameworks and those consumer protections and we’re dedicated to not servicing the gray market,” Sulsky said.
“Our banks are going to be located in Canada. We are going to be paying our taxes in the province of Ontario. We will not operate in any of the provinces that are not regulated. And so I’ll bring you back to our tagline, this is how we play sports.”
Ontario’s Potential Impact On Sports Betting Advertising
Sportsbook advertising may seem like a trivial issue, but it can be a long-term liability to the gambling industry. In a YouGov survey, 78% of UK respondents supported a ban on gambling advertising before 9:00 PM. The United Kingdom has had private sports betting decades longer than the United States and Canada. So, the UK offers a credible warning to how public opinion can turn when overexposed to gambling advertising.
In layman’s terms, people get tired of seeing gambling ads everywhere. The United Kingdom public opinion suggests that the public will only tolerate those ads for so long too.
However, Ontario may be an experiment in restricting bonus advertisements, including the need for bettors to opt-in and limiting ad appearances. Various agencies will be active in setting further advertising regulations in Ontario and throughout Canada. It’s a responsible gaming improvement that a market can make, and it will likely be the one most noticed by bettors.