With other provinces throughout Canada adopting a wider range of online and mobile betting products, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is looking to supplement its existing services.
The OLG released a Request for Proposals (RFP) on November 20, with the lotto agency looking to partner with a “service provider to enhance and expand sports betting in Ontario.”
Per a press release issued on the same day, the OLG specified that it’s seeking to update its online and mobile sports betting service by adding “new sports products that will be available at retail locations, as well as online and through mobile devices.”
Currently, the OLG website offers sports betting through the Pro-Line platform and its related mobile app. Bettors are able to place real money wagers on hockey, basketball, and other North American sports leagues. But in compliance with federal and provincial laws, Pro-Line bets are limited to so-called “parlay cards,” which require between three and six sides to be backed simultaneously.
For now, online and mobile sports betting in Ontario is limited to athletic competitions, but as OLG spokesman Tony Bitonti explained in an interview with CBC News, the recent RFP was issued to identify iGaming companies that can add more options:
“In the last few years, (eSports) and betting on it, has surged in popularity. There are hundreds of eSport tournaments events held each year, many in Ontario.
Novelty betting is placing a bet on an outcome that’s not part of a sports or athletic event.
For example, the winner of an election or the gender of a baby about to be born to royalty.”
Expanding the OLG’s sports selection to include eSports and novelty wagers would put it on par with four other Canadian jurisdictions: Atlantic Canada, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Quebec.
The respective lottery corporations for Manitoba and British Columbia use the Play-Now platform, which includes 17-1 (18.00) odds on novelty wagers like “Trump to announce that alien lifeforms exist during his time as President.”
Betting on the beleaguered American president is one of the more popular novelty bet attractions offered by Play-Now. Bettors in the two provinces can wager on whether Trump will be impeached during his first term, with “Yes” (1.56) the decided favorite over “No” (2.25).
Loto-Quebec doesn’t dabble in novelty bets, but the eSpaceJeux does offer dozens of wagers on eSports tournaments, including the Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and League of Legends.
According to Bitonti, the OLG’s interest in expanding online and mobile betting isn’t limited to eSports and novelties, as the agency will upgrade its traditional sports menu in kind:
“OLG sports offering will include new products that will provide more betting options on a wider variety of events, including all major North American sports leagues and major international sports.”
As reported by CBC News, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa offered his support for the OLG’s plans, but he remains concerned over the risk of problem gambling:
“We’ve been looking at the modernization strategy.
We’re looking at expanding and protecting consumer activity … The situation is that a lot of online (gambling) activity occurs that is unregulated and many people are exposed, especially young kids.
In my capacity I have a duty of social responsibility here. I also have to ensure that we re-invest in things that will help people with addiction.”
To that end, the OLG has already announced that any future products will continue to carry content from responsible gambling advocate PlaySmart. The PlaySmart platform educates players about the true probabilities and odds involved in their wagering activity, while providing assistance to those who are considering self-exclusion or other methods of preventing problem gambling.
Bitonti also revealed that the OLG is hoping to select an iGaming provider by the fall of 2018.