SBC Media Releases Documentary: 'The Ontario Frontier: Exploring the iGaming Landscape’
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SBC Media Releases Documentary: 'The Ontario Frontier: Exploring the iGaming Landscape’

In October 2023, SBC Media released its first full-length documentary titled ‘The Ontario Frontier: Exploring the iGaming Landscape’.  

This 13-minute documentary follows the complete journey of the iGaming landscape in Ontario, Canada. From its inception to its current, ever-evolving state, as one of the most popular and competitive jurisdictions in the entirety of the iGaming industry, this documentary maps it all. 

The documentary was hosted by Nick Ware, a Journalist at the Canadian Gaming Business. 

Additionally, SBC Media filmed the entire documentary on location at the Canadian Gaming Summit 2023

Here, the company was able to interview a number of individuals who are well-known for being some of the most noteworthy figures in the iGaming industry.  

The insight and expertise that they have offered in this documentary are invaluable.  

The individuals who were featured in these interviews included the following huge names in the industry: 

  • Martha Otton, Executive Director at iGaming Ontario 

  • Shelley White, CEO at Responsible Gambling Council 

  • Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada 

The participation of these noteworthy figures makes this documentary impossible to miss out on.

Here, they discussed some of the key events that, throughout the history of the Canadian iGaming industry, have aided in the shaping of the market into what it is today. 

In addition to this, the main point of focus of the documentary was to unravel the inside story pertaining to the formation, launch, challenges, and successes of the Ontario iGaming landscape. 

The current state of the Ontario iGaming Market 

The regulated Ontario iGaming market was established in April of 2022

Since the date of its initial launch, the latest quarterly report of the iGO indicated that the Ontario iGaming market now consists of the following: 

  • A total of 46 Operators 

  • A total of 71 Gaming Websites 

In terms of generated revenue, the most recent quarterly report of the iGO reported that a total revenue of $412.4 million ($545 million Canadian Dollars) was generated in gaming revenue during the first quarter of the 2023-2024 fiscal year.  

This generated revenue marks a major record for the Ontario iGaming market, exceeding all pre-conceived expectations and making it one of the hottest and most competitive jurisdictions in the entirety of the iGaming industry. 

Main Highlights from the Documentary 

Scott Vanderwal, CEO of PointsBet Canada 

Scott Vanderwal, CEO of PointsBet Canada, opened the documentary with the following apt comments regarding the initial hurdles that the Ontario iGaming market was faced with: 

“The journey to a regulated market Ontario was a long one […] and it was done in a very thoughtful way, a very deliberate way. Leading up to the launch, there was an incredible amount of anticipation about the potential on what this market could become […] it was the birth of a new industry or a newly regulated industry, to some extent, in Canada. The market kind of presented itself to Canadian consumers in really two ways.” 

Following this, Vanderwal appeared again shortly after with the following comments: 

“In the fall of 21, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation was allowed to offer single-events sports wagering for the first time, and that’s the first time that there was a regulated, consumer-friendly option available for the citizens of Ontario. And then it wasn’t until April that the market opened for any regulated private operator. But the journey between September and April I would say was one of learning. 

“If you think about the way the Market was set up, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario became the overall regulator, and they created a subsidiary called iGaming Ontario or iGO which became the conduct and manage entity for the new regime. So, just in the same way that PointsBet was setting up shop, so was iGO.” 

Shelley White, CEO at Responsible Gambling Council 

Shelley White, CEO at Responsible Gambling Council, made the following remarks regarding the rapid evolution of the iGaming market in Ontario following the years since its initial regulated launch: 

“You know, although we’ve just celebrated a year, this actually has been an initiative that’s been in making since 2019, so that in itself is unique, in that there was this poractive approach, a really thoughtful approach. […] I know that AGCO and iGO looked at how other jurisdictions around the world implemented their iGaming and sports betting programs, to ensure that they were taking advantage of the best practices as well as tailoring it for the Ontario market as well.” 

In addition to this, later on in the documentary, White went on to say the following: 

“It exceeded the projections […] Initially it was a rolled in phase, so it started with a few operators, but operators could actually gradually come in, so it wasn’t until it was 2nd and 3rd quarter, and right up until the 4th quarter that we reached ultimately where we’re at right now in terms of 42 operators and over 70 sites […] and I have to say, at RGC we were a bit surprised by the number of operators and the number of sites, but I think probably the best surprise was the channelization, that the fact that it achieved in the first year 85%, which means that 85% of Ontarians who were online gambling were actually gambling on legal licensed sites, which even exceeded iGO’s expectations in terms of a first year.” 

Closer to the end of the documentary, White made the following comment regarding the state of responsible gambling in Ontario and, as a direct result of this, in other jurisdictions outside of Canada as well: 

“We hear from the operators that Ontario is one of the largest and most robust gambling markets in the world, [..] what’s really important to us […] is that we’ve got operators in Ontario and in Canada who really value responsible gambling […] and […] one of the things that iGO did […] is that all the […] new iGaming operators must go through RG check accreditation in the first two years of their license. In the first year, we were actually able to provide that accreditation to 17 operators, and maybe that’s one of the surprises too.  

“We thought we might get a little bit of pushback from the operators. I mean, it’s a big undertaking, one, to start to launch in a new market but then to have to go through an RG check accreditation […] no pushback at all, in fact they embraced it. [...] some of the operators, they only had to get their RG check accreditation for Ontario, but they thought this was such a positive thing for them to do that they actually extended it to some of their other jurisdictions as well.  

“And we’ve also heard from the operators that what they’ve learnt and what they're having to do in Ontario with respect to responsible gambling is they’re now incorporating that into the other jurisdictions that they're operating as well, so it seems as though Ontario is going to play quite an influential role in expanding responsible gambling outside of Canada as well.” 

Martha Otton, Executive Director at iGaming Ontario 

Following her introduction in the documentary where she explained her own personal experience that led her to her current role today, Martha Otton, Executive Director at iGaming Ontario, made the following apt remarks regarding the first quarter financial reports released by the iGO (iGaming Ontario): 

“I was not disappointed in the first quarter reports. Really, when we launched, we thought, if we had one operator, this would be a success, and so to have 12 on day one, we really saw that as a tremendous success.  

“We’ve been curious because it’s been a year first so we’re still working through what happens in the summer when the NHL and the NFL and the NBA aren't playing. Is there a dip in the market? [...] we still don’t know because last year when we went through, we didn’t have the same number of operators that we do now.” 

Later in the documentary, Otton went on to say the following: 

“Operators don’t have to locate in Ontario […] I think that’s part of the attraction that brought the operators here, but we released our economic development report today, [...] we’re talking about direct, indirect, induced employments of around 12,000 jobs, good jobs here. I’d like to be able to continue to foster that, that it’s not just the revenue share that we’re taking from operators but we actually [...] have the support systems in place where [..] it's through the education of talent that operators say we want to come to Ontario. Because they’ve got the best software programmers, or […] there are just other reasons that the operators want to locate here.” 

Comments from SBC Media 

James Ross, the Multimedia Editor at SBC Media, made the following comments regarding the launch of this insightful documentary: 

“The main focus was to capture the hurdles that were associated with the market launching and also highlighting the successes and unforeseen stumbling blocks, and casting our eye into the future of the market. Having Shelley, Martha and Scott provide their insights also offered us a range of perspectives and I can’t thank them enough for offering their time.” 

In addition to this, Ross went on to say the following regarding his own personal and professional interest in the evolution of iGaming in Ontario, Canada: 

“During my time working on SBC Media’s CasinoBeats site, Ontario’s development had always piqued my interest and I watched its progress closely. 

“Both in the lead up to the market’s launch, and how the market was performing post launch – my promotion to SBC’s Multimedia Editor perfectly aligned with the Canadian Gaming Summit, the year anniversary of the market and my first experience of Canada.” 

What is the SBC? 

SBC is a media, news, and events company that organizes global conferences and exhibitions in the betting and iGaming industry. 

SBC describes its main roles as follows: 

  • ‘Our services include advertising, editorial and consultancy work, as well as conferences, exhibitions, webinars and industry awards.’ 

  • ‘SBC organizes global industry events which include the world’s largest sports betting industry conferences and exhibitions.’ 

  • ‘SBC Media is the largest b2b news network in the betting and gaming industry, with over 100 stories posted per day across a major network of 12 news portals.’ 

  • ‘SBC continue to deliver high-quality, global networking opportunities at exclusive and iconic venues.’ 

  • ‘SBC Advisory Partners is the pioneering consulting and transaction advisory service for sports, betting & gaming organisations boasting an unrivalled network of contacts founded on the deep industry roots of its highly experienced partners and the reach of its global conferences and business media portfolio.’ 

  • ‘SBC bring together the best-in-business for the igaming and sports betting sector, spanning across continents to report the latest industry news. We mobilise thousands of senior executives in the industry’s hotspots to initiate the right connections to innovate, grow and evolve the sports betting and igaming industry.’ 

In addition to this, SBC are members of the following associations

  • American Gaming Association (AGA) 

  • Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) 

  • Indian Gaming Association (IGA) 

  • Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers (AGEM) 

  • The European Lotteries 

The Canadian Gaming Summit 2023 

The Canadian Gaming Summit of this year took place between June 13th and June 15th, 2023, and marked the 26th-edition of this annual conference. 

This is an annual event that, this year, occurred at the Metro Toronto Convention Center in Toronto

This summit is described as ‘Canada’s Premier Gaming and Betting Event’, as well as an ‘annual conference and exhibition for Gaming and Sports Betting senior executives from across Canada and beyond.’ 

The 26th-edition of this renowned industry event was produced by SBC in collaboration with the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA)

This marked the first occasion in which SBC oversaw the production of this annual event. 

During this conference, over 2,000 delegates were in attendance, including a number of highly respected and well-known speakers who are figureheads in the Canadian iGaming Industry. 

The Canadian Gaming Summit 2023 was, prior to its unfolding, described as follows: 

“CGS 2023 will reflect the changing face of the industry, with a conference agenda and exhibitors that encompass both the newer sports betting sector and the more established casino gaming and lottery verticals, making it a must-attend for every company keen to do business in one of the world’s most exciting gambling markets.” 

The following values describe the number of attendees who took part in this renowned event: 

  • 2,000 Delegates 

  • 600+ Operators 

  • 150+ Speakers 

  • 75+ Exhibitors  

Amongst the many well-known speakers who attended this event, we will highlight the following individuals: 

  • Ilkim Hincer, EVP & Chief Legal Officer at Hard Rock International 

  • Tom Mungham, Chief Executive Officer at The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) 

  • Marie-Noelle Savoie, Chief Compliance Officer & VP Legal, Compliance, Security at BCLC 

  • Scott Vanderwel, CEO at PointsBet Canada 

  • Aubrey Levy, SVP of Content & Marketing at theScore Bet 

  • Tyjondah Kerr, Director, Program Development and Delivery at Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) 

  • Catherine Meade, VP Community, Sustainability, & Social Responsibility at OLG 

  • Sunil G. Chand, VP, Cyber & Information Security Officer at Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) 

  • Kuljeet Sindhar, AVP, International Gaming & Data Ventures at the National Basketball Association (NBA) 

  • Paolo Roberto de Leon, Senior Director, Online Casino Content at Caesars Digital 

Throughout the event, the following special features were included: 

  • Player Protection Symposium (‘High-level gathering dedicated to gambling harm prevention’). 

  • Electronic Gaming Academy Masterclass (‘A deep analysis on the impact Return to Player has on the experience of different Player Categories’). 

  • Canadian Gaming Summit First Pitch (‘Startups compete for a chance to win an exclusive prize package’) 

  • First Nations Gaming Awards 2023 (‘Recognizing significant contributors to the growth & development of First Nation communities’) 

The Key Stakeholders of the Documentary 

Martha Otton, Executive Director at iGaming Ontario (iGO) 

“Martha Otton is Executive Director of iGaming Ontario and is responsible for managing iGaming Ontario's overall resources and operations. Previously, Martha was the Chief Strategy Officer at the AGCO and was responsible for the agency’s Strategic Plan, annual planning process and played a key role in the implementation of iAGCO and the AGCO's expanded mandate over horse racing and cannabis. Prior to joining the AGCO, Martha was a Director General at Legal Aid Ontario and before joining LAO, Martha held a series of positions at the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG) including Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General of the Agency Relations Division and Director of Corporate Policy and Agency Relations.” 

Shelley White, CEO at Responsible Gambling Council 

“Shelley White is one of Canada’s foremost visionary leaders, and has dedicated her life and career to empowering organizations that create better futures for thousands of people in their communities. In 2017, she became the new CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC). 

Over the last 30 years, Shelley has also held a variety of executive positions also in the non-profit sector for the country’s most recognized and trusted national institutions, including United Way, Kidney Foundation of Canada and the YMCA. 

Earning a reputation as a champion of social change, Shelley has received United Way Worldwide’s Common Good Award, the Queen’s Jubilee Award for outstanding achievement in voluntary service, Ontario’s Leading Women Building Communities Award, The Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) Champion Award, Volunteer MBC’s 2017 Bonnie Yagar Award for Community Engagement Leadership, and has been named one of Mississauga’s Top 10 Most Influential Leaders.” 

Scott Vanderwel, CEO of PointsBet Canada 

“Scott Vanderwel has led PointsBet Canada as CEO since August 2021, spearheading the company’s steadfast commitment to bring Canadian sports fans a legal, safe, and reliable sportsbook with best-in-class customer experience upon the opening of the legal iGaming market in Ontario. 

Prior to PointsBet, Scott previously served as Senior Vice President for Rogers Communications, where he oversaw corporate strategy, operational improvement, and digital operations. Before Rogers, he led the Canadian practice for Monitor Group, a global business strategy consultancy, later acquired by Deloitte. 

A graduate of the HBA Program at the Ivey Business School at Western University, he is also the current chair of the Ivey Alumni Network Board. Outside of work, his passions include cycling, running, and especially skiing.” 

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