The competitive market for online sports betting in Ontario has added another competitor that is set on winning over value-conscious players in Canada's most populous province.
Pinnacle officially launched in the regulated market for internet casino gaming and online sports betting sites in Ontario on Wednesday, joining more than 20 other operators that have opened their digital doors in the province.
“Wednesday’s launch is a major landmark for Pinnacle,” CEO Paris Smith said in a recent press release from the bookmaker. “We want to give our customers a true and unique betting experience. At Pinnacle.ca, that means great odds on the sports Ontario bettors care about, a strong focus on responsible gambling, and the welcoming of both recreational customers and the sharpest professionals around.”
A first for Pinny
Known for its lower margins and higher limits, Pinnacle obtained its internet-gaming operator registration from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) in September.
The other major approval operators need before they can launch in Ontario's regulated market is to sign a contract with iGaming Ontario, a government agency. Having executed that contract, Pinnacle was cleared to enter a regulated market in North America, which is a first for the company, whose Pinnacle.com site is licensed in Curaçao.
Pinnacle's new Ontario site then came online shortly after 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday in the province. Although Ontario's iGaming market permits both online casino gambling and sports betting, Pinnacle is starting with sports betting first in the province before rolling out its casino games at a later date.
“Focusing on delivering better odds to bettors, the sportsbook gives Ontario customers the chance to bet with Pinnacle’s value-based odds,” the company said in its recent release. “With almost 25 years of international bookmaking expertise, this week’s landmark launch marks not just its entry onto a new continent but is also Pinnacle’s first gaming license in a regulated North American jurisdiction.”
Pinnacle’s authorized launch in Ontario comes ahead of the October 31 deadline the AGCO has set for operators that may be taking bets in the province without official approval to transition into the regulated market without penalty.
The main reason for the deadline is that Ontario has long had a robust “grey market” for online gambling in which operators that may be regulated abroad or outside the province accept wagers from provincial residents without explicit approval from the government or regulators.
With this in mind, the AGCO has sought to nudge “grey” operators into the regulated market, which launched on April 4. Pinnacle is one of several such bookmakers to make the switch, joining the likes of bet365, Betway, and others that have already joined the iGaming market.
However, some operators have been faster than others, irking the quicker companies, and the regulator ultimately chose Halloween as the cutoff date for the transition.
Operators that fail to follow the new standard by October 31 may find themselves facing an unhappy regulator that is no longer willing to welcome them into the regulated market.
“This new standard establishes that operators and gaming-related suppliers that are currently active in the unregulated market in Ontario (or have agreements and arrangements with those in the unregulated market in Ontario) must end their activities in the unregulated market to avoid jeopardizing their eligibility for registration,” the regulator says. “This requirement extends to applicants for registration in Ontario’s iGaming scheme.”