With new market launches come signup issues, irate bettors, and finger-pointing. Some Ontario sports bettors have blamed registration troubles on the local government. They believe that had Ontario not regulated sports betting, they wouldn’t be dealing with current online sportsbook issues in the province.
BREAKING: #Ontario government gets its grubby mitts on the online sports betting books and immediately take a huge dump 💩 on the floor in the middle of what was a fun party. Shocking. Just shocking.
— Daniel Tully (@BigTeeBalls) April 4, 2022
It’s understandable for Ontario bettors to be mad about geolocation issues preventing them from betting. But for brands like FanDuel and Caesars Sportsbook, Ontarians wouldn’t have had access to these books unless Ontario regulated sports betting.
Licensed sportsbook brands that limit themselves to legal markets don’t allow bets from markets where they don’t have igaming licenses. So, blaming the Ontario government for a book’s geolocation or bonus issue is ridiculous.
Even registration issues with former gray market operators, like bet365 or CoolBet, can’t be laid at the Ontario government’s feet. Yes, bettors had to re-register and place any old bets at bet365 because of Ontario’s igaming regulation.
But it’s up to each former gray market sportsbook to have a functional signup process. How they adjust to Ontario’s legal landscape and avoid Ontario sportsbook issues is their responsibility.
Two Legitimate Ontario iGaming Complaints
However, the biggest complaints are about Ontario’s Daily Fantasy Sports and online horse race betting regulations.
By making DFS a game of skill, DraftKings and FanDuel would’ve not only needed to pay a $100,000 license fee and a 25% tax rate. Ontarians would’ve only been allowed to compete with other Ontarians, shrinking the pool of DFS players to compete against.
In top of that DK and FD would each have to pay $100k per year to operate their DFS books.
These two things combined are forcing them to pull the plug. So yes it’s not illegal. But the DFS landscape has been destroyed because the government of Ontario needs to meddle everywhere.
— Jeff Hazzard (@jhazz82) April 1, 2022
Driving out the two most popular DFS sites is a bad start to the new private igaming industry. It may overshadow the excitement of private sportsbooks and online casinos.
No Online Betting For Horse Racing
Horse race betting remains unavailable at licensed sportsbooks. That means it has been removed from former gray market sites, too. Horse tracks don’t want to lose revenue to online sportsbooks. So, this issue will be an ongoing point of tension as Ontario’s horse racing industry ensures it gets its cut of any online gambling revenue.
Fixed odds horse racing is something I extremely enjoyed. Now it’s not available on the “new Ontario version of bet365”. The Ontario government continues goes to great lengths to ruin my life.
— 4D (@_4D4D) April 4, 2022
Although horse racing is more niche than sports like hockey, this may push some bettors back to black-market books. This move weakens the market forces Ontario is using to draw bettors into the legal market. But it won’t be a bigger issue than losing the largest DFS companies in North America.
Ontario Sportsbook Issues And Government Regulation
Sportsbook issues are especially frustrating for bettors who have never had an issue with an offshore or gray market sportsbook before.
However, adding a safety net in place avoids money laundering operations like the one briefly operated in Tennessee. Another Tennessee sportsbook, Action 24/7, lost its license for failing to act on clear signs of money laundering. (When hundreds of credit cards deposit money into one account, that should raise some questions.)
Money laundering is a serious issue in Canada. According to the Ottawa Citizen, Ottawa banks flagged over “10,000 suspicious transactions” in Ottawa alone over 10 years. Only 20 people have been charged with money laundering over that same time period.
The article goes on to describe the challenges and obstacles to following up on suspicious transactions. It’s an important issue that affects all of Canada.
A great place to launder money is within illegal sportsbooks. Criminal organizations can fix a match, bet at an illegal sportsbook, then withdraw their ostensibly legal winnings.
In September 2020, the offshore gambling site, 5Dimes, “forfeited over $46.8 million in gambling proceeds” to the FBI and Homeland Security. They admitted it came from “various unlawful gambling-related offenses.”
That laundered money often funds other more sinister criminal activities, like trafficking and terrorism. So, governments around the world have good reasons to crack down on money laundering activities.
Ontario bettors have every right to be frustrated with geolocation fails, long registration times, and other glitches at launch. But now, Ontario can use market pressures to catch and discourage money laundering at online sportsbooks. Ontario bettors also gain a safety net of consumer rights with an online portal to submit complaints about sportsbooks.
Overall, a regulated igaming industry is preferable to an unregulated one. But Ontario’s igaming regulations will require adjustments.