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Welcome to the Spring 2023 issue of Canadian Gaming Business!
This summer sees the Canadian Gaming Summit come into SBC’s stewardship for the first time. From June 13-15, the 26th edition of this renowned event will be produced by SBC, as well as our good friends at the Canadian Gaming Association.
I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the 2,000 delegates from the industry who will attend the Metro Toronto Convention Center for three days of high-level discussion, networking and, of course, SBC’s conference content.
A massive thank you must also be extended to Paul Burns and his team at the Canadian Gaming Association, whose expertise and support have been instrumental in putting the conference together.
This issue of the magazine takes a look back at the past year of Ontario operations, speaking to established Canadian brands as well as newcomers from over the pond.
FanDuel spoke with CGB to explain whether its marketleading US position is influencing its activity in Ontario, whilst Bet99 delves into all things sports sponsorships.
The online market isn’t the only port of entry for this issue, either. We say hello to Great Canadian Entertainment to hear the latest on their swanky new property in the Greater Toronto Area and how the landbased sector has been impacted by the online market.
SIGA tells us all about its brand new online platform which helps to support First Nation communities in Saskatchewan, whilst BCLC also boasts its social purpose and charitable activities in British Columbia.
New and emerging markets take center stage as Rivalry talks all things esports and Gen Z bettors, whilst we also have the latest from the world of payments in Canada.
There is also much more to delve into with some incredibly insightful comments from an array of leaders in the Canadian gaming industry - one of the most exciting regions in the world right now.
Enjoy the issue, and I hope that, if you meet any of the SBC team in Toronto this June for the Canadian Gaming Summit, you come and say hello!
EDITOR’S NOTE Charlie Homer
The Canadian Gaming Business Magazine is brought to you by SBC - Sports Betting Community:
Charlie Horner, Martyn Elliott, Andrew McCarron, Jessica Welman, Conor Porter, Nick Ware, Viktor Kayed, Erin Gallagher, Craig Davies, Ted Menmuir, Joe Streeter, Chris Murphy, James Ross, Lucia Mouriño, Jessie Sale, Fernando Noodt Molins, Callum Williams, Lucia Gando, Ted OrmeClaye, Danny Lee.
Rasmus Sojmark, Alyona Gromova, Conall McCabe, Jan Kowalczyk, Richard Deacon, Bob McFarland, Craig Brown, Juan Ospina
Creative Lead | Design & Layout
Delivering a Great Canadian Entertainment Experience
How Great Canadian Entertainment bounced back from Covid and is looking ahead to its flagship property opening this summer.
SIGA’s switch to online
Zane Hansen explains how First Nations communities will benefit from SIGA’s PlayNow.com platform.
Profit vs purpose
BCLC outlines its ocial purpose driving everything it does as it seeks to place more emphasis on responsibilities and communities.
Less Cut + Paste and more Ctrl + New
FanDuel has carved out a market-leading position in the US, but how is it tailoring its winning strategy in its Canadian guise?
All material is strictly copyrighted and all rights are reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the written permission of Sports Betting Community Ltd. Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, Sports Betting Community Ltd cannot be held responsible for any errors it may contain. Sports Betting Community Ltd cannot be held responsible for the loss or damage of any material, solicited or unsolicited. The views in the publication are not necessarily the views of Sports Betting Community Ltd or those of the advertisers.
Community and content is core
Rivalry reveals all about engaging Gen Z users and dissects the rise of esports in the Ontario betting market.
Ontario one year on
In April, the Ontario igaming market turned one year old; CGB speaks to several industry stakeholders to get the lay of the land in the first year.
Puck-er Up! How Bet99 linked with the NHL
Bet99 CEO Jared Beber discusses the firm’s partnership with the NHL focusing on player education and F2P games
Shelley White discusses the criticism leveled at Canadian sports betting advertising and offers her assessment of the risks involved with overexposing young people to ads
Cutting through the compliance landscape
KPMG offers the lowdown for operators to ensure their AML requirements are being met to very specific Canadian standards.
Focus on A Regulated, Responsible, and Sustainable IndustryWORDS BY PAUL BURNS
On April 4, Ontario’s igaming market turned 1. It has been a remarkable year for gaming – first by bringing new operators and suppliers to Ontario, and also by showcasing the many great innovators and entrepreneurs that call Canada home.
In making the decision to launch Canada’s first open license-regulated igaming market, the Ontario Government understood that it would require strong and independent regulatory oversight, with tough standards, rigorous vetting and licensing of companies, and effective and intensive compliance monitoring and
enforcement. And with that, Canada’s gaming industry surged forward.
The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) has worked to drive this evolution in Canada’s gaming industry through dialogue, but with our growing and diverse membership and larger Board of Directors, it was time for the CGA to update its Strategic Plan. The dedication and engagement of the CGA Board of Directors over the past months have led to a refreshed foundation on which the CGA’s strategic priorities for 2023 and onwards are built.
To advance the evolution of a regulated, responsible, and sustainable Canadian gaming industry through collaboration, education, and advocacy.
Gaming is a positive contributor to communities across Canada and our national economy.
• We champion the responsible use of our industry’s entertainment products.
• We seek to advance the growth and innovation of our industry.
• We seek to balance the interests of all our members and stakeholders.
• Collaborate: Facilitate productive dialogue among members and industry stakeholders to collaboratively find common interests, solve problems, and identify opportunities.
• Advocate: Advocate for the Canadian gaming industry to help shape and advance productive and progressive policy directions across Canada.
• Educate: Be the trusted source of accurate information on the gaming industry and increase awareness of the positive impacts regulated, and responsible gaming can have throughout Canada.
Turning to our priorities for 2023, the CGA will build on the progress we made in the prior year:
• Develop industry RG initiatives to promote the industry and CGA members’ RG efforts.
• Active participation in the Parliamentary Review of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTF Act) to ensure Canada’s AML laws and regulations better reflect the evolution of Canada’s gaming industry.
• Continue to be a voice for the industry for the reduction of needless red tape and duplication, controlling costs related to compliance.
• Promoting the benefits of the gaming industry on the Canadian economy.
It was important to update our Strategic Plan as Canada’s gaming industry is in the spotlight more than ever, and it was time to reposition the CGA given the successful launch of legal singleevent sports betting and Canada’s first open licensed regulated igaming market.
I’m proud of what we accomplished, as the Strategic Plan gives the Association and its members a clear road map on how resources will be allocated against the priorities we’ve identified. I can’t wait to see where our industry goes in the next five years!
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Whether you’re a casino operator, gaming supplier, internet gaming company or other business in the industry, make Blakes your choice across the board.
Canada’s gaming rules can be complicated. Finding the right counsel shouldn’t be.Blakes. Proud sponsor of the 2023 Canadian Gaming Summit. Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP | blakes.com
Gavin Whiteley, CMO at Great Canadian Entertainment, offers insight into bouncing back from the pandemic, the battle between land-based and online gaming, and Great Canadian’s new flagship Toronto property.WORDS BY ERIN GALLAGHER
It’s been three years since we were all told to stay indoors, work from home, and minimize our social interactions, and thankfully the restrictions introduced during the global pandemic are a distant memory.
For many industries, the gaming sector included, this meant that the doors had to be closed for the foreseeable future.
For the land-based gaming sector, this set alarm bells ringing. How does an operator keep an in-person venue in business when people are not allowed to leave their homes? As we saw with many other industries, the answer to that question comes in the form of digital communications.
In an interview with Canadian Gaming Business, Gavin Whiteley - Chief Marketing Officer at Great Canadian Entertainment - reflects on the challenges of the global pandemic for the brick-andmortar gaming industry and how his company bounced back to deliver a more dynamic experience for bettors.
With a number of previous roles in the gaming sector, it was apparent that Whiteley’s speciality lies in all things ‘entertainment’.
“I was born and raised in Montreal and earned Master’s Degrees at both McGill University and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania,” he began.
“Prior to joining Great Canadian Entertainment in September 2022, I held the role of Senior Vice President of Loyalty & CRM at Caesars Entertainment overseeing the first and largest loyalty program in the gaming industry, and previously held a number of roles with Cirque du Soleil.”
The conversation soon turned towards the post-coronavirus era, and more specifically, the challenges of attracting players back to land-based venues given the rise of mobile and online betting.
At the height of the pandemic, most companies shifted their attention towards digital communication as a way of maintaining relationships with customers. Great Canadian Entertainment was no exception.
Whiteley explained that this not only altered the relationship with customers for the better, but also helped build trust. He said: “Communication is key. As conditions, including travel restrictions at
border crossings, changed over time, our relationships with customers and ability to engage and communicate with them through multiple digital channels as well as in-person has built a foundation of trust that has been successful in bringing customers back to our destinations.”
For Whiteley, the experience of the land-based gaming experience is inherently social and - in his view - incomparable to that of the handheld device.
When asked about whether the rise of mobile and online gambling posed any particular challenges for Great Canadian Entertainment, the answer was quite simple: no.
The land-based sector, Whiteley explained, has a much more stimulating experience that is ultimately much more enjoyable for visitors - something that he believes cannot be replicated.
He continued: “The in-person gaming experience is inherently difficult to replace: the sights, the sounds, the thrill of action being shared with others around you – I think it’s easy to recognize the full experience offered at our destinations extends well far beyond the wager itself.
The experience is one more reason to visit in the first place or extend their overall entertainment experience.
“The experience we offer has not fundamentally changed, and our offerings – including the launch of Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto this summer – has only continued to expand.”
The Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto is due to open its doors in Summer 2023, and promises to bring a “Vegas-style casino” experience to the great white north.
Boasting more than 4,800 slot machines, 145 table games, a 5,000 seat entertainment venue and an integrated hotel, Great Canadian Entertainment believes that this new casino will “reimagine” the traditional gaming experience by placing entertainment at the forefront of its operations.
Whiteley continued: “Our network of destinations offers a complete entertainment experience – live concerts and entertainment, various dining options, dedicated in-person service, all complementing the gaming or betting experience by itself. There is a social experience to visiting one of our casinos or
resorts that is inherently distinctive from an individualized online experience.”
Part of this reimagination will be the inclusion of sports betting lounges and kiosks at the property. Great Canadian Entertainment has already rolled sports betting out across 10 of its properties in Ontario since the market regulated in April 2022.
By offering an in-person sports betting experience, the CMO believes that this will encourage more visitors to visit the property.
“The Great Canadian Sportsbook lounges and kiosks available across Ontario have been enjoyed by many new and existing guests at our destination,” Whiteley added.
“The experience is one more reason to visit in the first place or extend their overall entertainment experience. Sharing the thrill of the game with others in realtime, or trying out one of our gaming or dining options while watching the game after placing a bet – the full experience is really unbeatable.”
Rounding off the discussion, Whiteley turned his attention to what comes next for the gaming organization.
With more properties planned to open their doors in 2023 alone, Great Canadian Entertainment already has plans for further expansion.
Whiteley concluded: “Great Canadian Entertainment, including our 12 Great Canadian Rewards destinations across Ontario, continues to expand and enhance the offering to our customers with new entertainment, hotel, and dining experiences and even more gaming options.
“A couple of prime examples of this are Pickering Casino Resort holding its official Grand Opening in late April, and Great Canadian Casino Resort Toronto, opening this summer as Canada’s largest casino.
“As Canada’s leading gaming company, Great Canadian Entertainment plays a key role in maintaining our experience and exceeding customer expectations from coast to coast.”
, CEO of SIGA, tells CGB about launching PlayNow.com in Saskatchewan, First Nations development, and how the association is leveraging its land-based expertise to power its online future.
IGaming Authority (SIGA) celebrated the launch of its new online venture, PlayNow.com. Secured through an agreement with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, the platform aims to bring legal, regulated online casino options to players across the Canadian province.
But more importantly, it seeks to diversify the revenue streams of SIGA, which ultimately goes towards both the province and developing First Nations community interests.
Hansen explained: “The gaming industry has always been a very key development industry and a key avenue for us to create opportunities. All of our net earnings go back to our 74 First Nation, the owners of the company; we also send them back to regional development corporations that support a lot of good causes.
“Online development is going to be a key growth channel for us going forward. So for us to be in that space, be very competitive, and provide a great product and service to the people of Saskatchewan here, there’s a lot of movement and a lot of things happening.
“We see a future where we can create a very convenient and integrated experience for our customers, whether they choose to play land-based or place online.”
SIGA’s role in aiding the development of First Nations in Saskatchewan is undeniable; 100% of its revenue goes back to communities and enters into land and lease agreements that become long-term revenuegenerating arrangements for the First Nations and the Tribal Councils.
Hansen expressed his pride that SIGA provides these opportunities, labeling the organization as a “corporate citizen” that maximizes social benefits.
“We’ve been very pleased to demonstrate the ability of SIGA to have a significant footprint in the gaming industry and operate a company at scale very effectively. So that’s been a very rewarding part for us to do. We maximize the benefits back for development and back into the province.
“We’re a very active corporate citizen that is reinvesting back and contributing to numerous causes and events in Saskatchewan.”
As Hansen outlined, the introduction of PlayNow. com is to diversify the revenue stream for First Nations development in the province by creating a secondary platform for players.
But as SIGA owns and operates seven land-based casinos across Saskatchewan, it is necessary to strike a balance between creating a meaningful and appealing online platform, keeping a consistent and, ideally, growing footfall in the brick-and-mortar venues.
The CEO explained: “We’ve had steady (online) growth in our first few months of operating here and largely, it appears to be complimentary (to casino footfall). There’s a large existing market out there in the illegal space, and we’re coming forward with a very competitive licensed legal operation, very safe and very secure with all the content and betting options you could want.”
When it comes to winning over customers from the illegal market, it is not only important to use the USP of licensed and regulated operations, but the overall user experience must topple that of the black market.
That is why Hansen was adamant that the user experience is essential to PlayNow.com’s success and that the convergence between the land-based and online sectors must allow players to “go back and forth”.
“It really comes down to the range of content and the user experience,” he said.
“We’re just months into it and we’re gonna lend our expertise and everything we’ve learned over 25 years on the land-base side. But just having a good wide array of content is really key to customers like that selection and choice.
We’re gonna lend our expertise and everything we’ve learned over 25 years on the land-based side.
“We’ll be developing and looking at ways to engage the online experience with our land-based experience and offer promotions that can go back and forth between the two channels.”
That online/offline synergy and the strong position SIGA holds as the monopoly holder in the province kept cropping up, as Hansen boasted that the association will “lever all of that expertise” to keep producing engaging online gaming content.
He added: “I think one of the real competitive strengths we have as a land-based operator with a lot of experience is we’ve got a customer base and a brand that is built up and trusted.
“We’re gonna lever all of that expertise into the online space, and work with PlayNow.com and BCLC in all of the capacities and we’re going to be very competitive in that space and support future development.” Now that SIGA has laid down a promising blueprint for First Nations communities and
gaming operators to enter the online space, attention will inevitably turn to how similar associations follow in its footsteps.
Hansen cited the ‘interesting’ work that was going on in Manitoba, which delivered a PlayNow platform with the local government to bring online gaming to the province.
But he also explained that, ostensibly, First Nation operators are strong land-based operators, and that online development - while important - is a way to complement and improve that experience.
The SIGA CEO concluded: “You have other sizable First Nation gaming operations in Canada that have built up very successful land-based operations.
“Whichever online type of partner they choose, I think it’s a great tool to develop, augment, and expand what they’ve built up in the land-based environment, extend that into the online space, and provide their customers a great selection and great choice.”
I think it’s a great tool to develop, augment, and expand what they’ve built up in the land-based environment.
PROFIT PURPOSE?WORDS BY CHARLIE HORNER
For most businesses, profits and dividends are paramount. Sure, if they can also help out third parties and the local communities, it’s a bonus. But profits tend to come first.
At British Columbia Lottery Corporation, they do things differently. The corporation replaced its mission statement with its ‘Social Purpose’ and hasn’t looked back since.
As well as generating over $28bn for the province since its inception, it also conducts fundraisers and sponsorship activities to boost the local economy.
Peter ter Weeme told Canadian Gaming Business: “Our social purpose is to generate win-win for the greater good and it’s changing the way that we’re thinking of things from what’s in it for us, which is the more traditional way that companies tend to make decisions, to how can we get what we need, but also benefit a third party.
“We’re just changing the lens through which we make decisions”.
By conducting sponsorships with local events in the arts and music space as well as initiating fundraising events such as Spread the Local Love, BCLC is fulfilling its social purpose.
Spread the Local Love focused on supporting charities and businesses by purchasing gift cards directly and through the campaign page. Players could purchase these gift cards or place silent auction bids. The campaign raised over $28,000 in two weeks to help fend off the pandemic woes. Meanwhile, it helped to support food banks to support struggling families.
Ter Weeme added: “Part of what we’re trying to do is build healthy and vibrant communities where we operate. So, investing in arts and culture, whether it’s the film festival, the symphony of the theatre company just creates that community, right brings people together gives them something of value.
“We deliver a big dividend to the province every year that’s handed out and earmarked by the province for health care, education, arts, culture and environmental projects.”
Though trying to fend off the impact of the pandemic for local businesses and charities, it is made all the more profound as BCLC had Covid troubles of its own.
Noting that the lockdowns “upended everything”, Ter Weeme explained that more fairweather players have not come back, instead taking up other hobbies such as “becoming a sourdough chef”.
“We’re not seeing as many of them (casual players) as we used to. The core player that traditionally was aligned with the offerings that we had are still here, but it’s the more peripheral folk that for whatever reason, haven’t come back in the same numbers. We’re trying to understand why and how to appeal to them.”
Part of Ter Weeme’s remit until recently was VP, Player Experience, which ultimately is the vehicle through which BCLC can provide funds for good causes and local benefits.
Striking a balance between maximizing benefits to good causes and ensuring player safety may seem a difficult task, but BCLC’s social purpose lead was undeterred in his assertion that the two fit “hand in glove”.
Peter ter Weeme, BCLC’s Chief Social Purpose Officer & VP, External Relations, explains how the corporation places social purpose at the front and centre of its operation.
That social purpose piece and the player experience piece go hand in glove.
Striving for a long-term, sustainable way of operating is of the utmost importance for ter Weeme, who proclaimed: “We make sure that we’re delivering a great experience, whilst at the same time caring for the long-term health and well-being of that player.
“Sometimes in our industry, some companies may just want to get the short-term advantage, but you might do that to their detriment, and then not take a sustainable long-term approach.
“That social purpose piece and the player experience piece go hand in glove because it makes sure that we’re making decisions that we also take into account longer-term value creation or longerterm sustainability as opposed to just the short-term financial wind.”
Heading into the rest of 2023, BCLC is aiming to once again
support local institutions through sponsorships, this time through sports. Already partnered with the MLS side, Vancouver Whitecaps, BCLC wants to create closer ties with sports sides within the province, not only to increase its brand visibility, important though that is. As always with BCLC, it is about reiterating its social purpose.
“It’s really about trying to do that, obviously, and get the exposure and the name recognition, but also creating a great experience and using the opportunity to get players or new players into our ecosystem and start to market and nurture them through that funnel.
“Sports in particular bring us a new and younger audience, and an opportunity to migrate those people into other parts of our business.”
Our social purpose is to generate win-win for the greater good and it’s changing the way that we’re thinking.
FanDuel Canada’s VP of Marketing, Conor Murray, explains how the Flutter brand is differentiating its advertising approach in Ontario from its market-leading US position.
FanDuel’s dominance in the US can’t be debated but rolling that brand out in Canada was not the same as dusting off the state launch playbook and tapping into an existing database of DFS players. Certainly, there are lessons learned from the US but Canada is a different beast.
FanDuel’s VP of Marketing Conor Murray has traveled the world working for Flutter and has learned the ins and outs of what customers in Europe, the US, and now Canada are looking for in a sportsbook. When it comes to Canadian customers, he noticed two core differences in the customer base.
“The market is a little bit more developed just from the grey market that existed before, so you have things like customers’ understanding of parlays and more complicated bets. You can see that the starting point for Canadians seems to be a little bit higher,” Murray said, noting how the existence of a grey market in Ontario has shaped the customer base.
His second observation may be one that sounds cliche but has proven to hold true.
“We obviously see a much stronger uptake in our hockey product,” Murray said. “I’d say it’s noticeable how much bigger hockey is versus the US, but the almost more telling thing is how similar all the other ones are. NBA is our number one sport, which I think is worth noting. I think that’s really, really interesting.”
However, while the interest is robust, the offering hasn’t always been what it could be.
“I would say the one comment I make will be that not just with us, but in the market more generally, hockey’s probably been underserved as a betting product and proposition up until now. I think when
we started one year ago it just wasn’t at the same level of markets and offerings as the likes of the NBA and the NFL,” he said. “So, over the past year, we personally put a lot of work into improving our models, improving our product to be able to offer a more comprehensive product to our customers. We’ve just released Same Game parlays and a string of more advanced markets for our customers. We’re seeing big upticks from off the back of that.”
Another challenge for FanDuel and other operators was the strict ban on inducement advertising. At launch, this topic drew criticism and frustration from affiliates in particular, but Murray doesn’t mind the rule.
“As long as all operators are playing against the rules that have been laid out then it should be equally challenging for everyone. So it remains a fair fight and competition between other operators and us. In terms of what you do, it’s just different. You pull different levers and you use different tactics. We lean a lot more into brand marketing and product marketing than we do versus a lot of the direct response marketing that you see in the US by all operators really. So it’s a healthy environment. The regulators have done a good job.”
One way that FanDuel has established its brand over the past year has been as the official sports betting partner of TSN. That integration benefits not just FanDuel’s presence in Ontario but also extends to any province that may opt to open up the online market in the future.
Hockey’s probably been underserved as a betting product and proposition up until now.
WORDS BY JESSICA WELMAN
While the inducement limitations impact some of the crossover appeals, Murray did explain that FanDuel’s Canadian presence does benefit from some of its US marketing efforts as well.
“You’d be wrong if you said that there are no benefits of scale of being the number one operator in the US. I think a great example of that is the Kick of Destiny campaign that we ran in the US,” he admitted, referencing the brand’s Super Bowl marketing push with former NFL player Rob Gronkowski.
“The scale of a campaign like that organically spills into Canada and we see a lot of the benefit of that running on a national level in the US, and then on top of that, we tried to augment that by our own local activations.”
Now that the initial rush to the new market is over though, what do sustained marketing efforts look like in Ontario? With such a crowded and competitive marketplace is continued spending necessary to keep up? Murray doesn’t think so.
“I think there’s been some operators that probably spend beyond what makes sense. From our perspective, we’ve always been reasonably rational. We’re close to the economics. We have our customer acquisition playbook that’s similar to what we use in the US, which is sensible investment relative to what we see,” he said.
There may be similarities and crossover with what FanDuel does in Canada compared to the US. However, Murray and his team realize that a passion for hockey is far from the only factor that makes Ontario a unique, challenging, and rewarding market.
You’d be wrong if you said that there are no benefits of scale of being the number one operator in the US.
COMMUNITY AND CONTENT IS
Steven Salz, Co-Founder and CEO of Rivalry, speaks to CGB about esports, the expansion of its casino offering and what’s next on the agenda in Ontario.WORDS BY NICK WARE
After a self-styled ‘breakout’ year in 2022, it should come as little surprise that Rivalry is now maneuvering itself to build on that success and become a ubiquitous presence in Ontario and beyond.
Last year was significant for Rivalry as it became one of the first fully registered operators of the Ontario igaming market which launched last April, offering its esports and traditional sports betting service.
Co-Founder and CEO Steven Salz expressed pride in the firm’s ability to stick to its core principles.
Salz said: “We continue to be inspired by the growth we’re seeing in Ontario and the unique position Rivalry has carved out in the market as a sports betting brand for a generation born on the internet.
“We stuck to our market playbook in Ontario and focused on building true brand equity among our target customers of esports fans with premium content, community activations, and a comprehensive esports product offering. This allowed us to avoid the promotional heavy approaches most operators took at launch and develop authentic touchpoints with consumers in Ontario.”
Patently, online esports and sports betting have played significant roles in Rivalry’s success, more recently in last year’s record-breaking results.
Esports has played a particularly pivotal role as the category accounted for over 90% of Rivalry’s sportsbook handle last year, and helps to broach an audience of Millenial and Gen Z consumers.
But, as Salz observes, there is still a gap in the market ready to be exploited, and Rivalry is positioning itself to be at the top of the ladder.
“Esports betting is still a much less mature market in the broader sports wagering industry, and particularly in North American markets. There is a big opportunity in this segment to educate esports fans that they can legally and safely bet on esports.
“We expect that awareness will continue to grow organically over time in Ontario and subsequently expand the market size and opportunity. We believe early movers like Rivalry will have a significant competitive advantage over operators as esports betting grows in Ontario and globally.”
Away from its more familiar offerings, Rivalry has also highlighted a ‘successful expansion’ into a new product category - casino.
Casino contributed 30% of Rivalry’s betting handle and 15% of its revenue in Q3 2022 via its proprietary interface, Casino.exe, leading to an expansion of its offering including eight new games, including Roulette, Blackjack, and Baccarat.
There is a big opportunity in this segment to educate esports fans that they can legally and safely bet on esports.
Salz explained that this expansion was no knee-jerk decision: “We’ve had the ability to add casino for some time, but we wanted to make sure we were incredibly thoughtful about how we introduced it alongside our product and brand.
“Rivalry’s success has been rooted in this niche of esports and internet culture. This thread can be seen across our product, marketing and creative [side], so it was very important for us to launch casino in a way that felt authentic to our brand and native to our core audience of Millennial and Gen Z consumers.
“We knew that a generic casino solution with thousands of games wouldn’t cut it for the next generation of bettors and the type of depth and engagement they are accustomed to with video games.
“Casino.exe allowed us to put an important interactive and entertaining spin on casino to innovate around the traditional experience for digitally native
consumers.” Catering to its audience has been a key factor in Rivalry’s expansion into this category, with a clear focus on quality over quantity.
But as Salz outlined, Rivalry is only aiming upward, and such a strategy will inevitably see the firm expand further in the casino category, sooner rather than later.
“Our belief with casino is that less is more. We’ve taken a very thoughtful and selective approach to this segment with a curated list of games geared toward our target audience.
“It’s why we’ve chosen to develop firstparty casino games like Rushlane which blend multiplayer, live chat, and advanced graphics to create an enriching and social betting experience for users that more closely resembles the type of interactive entertainment our audience is familiar with.”
As a company well-established in the esports sector, Salz is cognizant of the
fact that Rivalry’s ascent in esports needs to be maintained.
Consequently, there is a burning desire to further expand its esports offering, domestically and globally.
“This includes the addition of new game titles and markets to deepen our core product and attract new customers. Esports betting is core to our overarching strategy at Rivalry, and providing the most comprehensive coverage available is a valuable point of differentiation that enables us to reach and engage more sports bettors.
“As always, we will continue to host community-first activations and campaigns in the province to cultivate new fans and build rapport with our existing customers in Ontario.
Salz summarized: “Community and content is core to our market strategy and will continue to be a focus for us in Ontario.”
Our belief with casino is that less is more.
One Year On
Since launch, Ontario sports betting has gone from zero to hero, thanks to robust regulation, a savvy betting population, and a commitment to taking on the grey market.WORDS BY CHRIS MURPHY
This will be the benchmark for how states in the US should open, and the rest of the world – such as the Middle East and Asia – should look to the province too.
Online sports betting in Ontario has made it to the one-year milestone as a fully regulated market and, in the process, generated in excess of $1.4bn in revenue from more than $35bn in wagers. It currently boasts more than 70 websites delivering a mix of sports betting, casino games, and poker. The figures are nothing short of astonishing.
Among the first to acknowledge the anniversary recently was Benjie Levy, Head of PENN Interactive and President and COO of theScore, who cited an “incredibly successful first year of operation”, during which Ontario has become PENN’s “top performing market in North America”.
“theScore Bet resonated with customers in the same way our sports media app has for years,” he said, “resulting in a consistent, strong performance across sports betting and online casino”.
“It’s been a busy year that included securing an exclusive deal with the Blue Jays, executing a first-of-its-kind activation at the RBC Canadian Open, completing our proprietary technology stack, and moving into a new 80,000-square-foot office space at the Waterfront Innovation Centre in downtown Toronto to support our growing workforce and operation.
“We’re proud to continue investing in our home market and building our technology-driven business with accomplished homegrown talent.”
According to Levy, Ontario has quickly become one of the most robust and competitive online gaming markets in North America.
He stated: “We commend the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and iGaming Ontario (iGO) for the successful establishment of a regulated online gaming framework that provides important consumer
protections, features comprehensive responsible gaming measures, and contributes to economic development throughout the province.
“As Canada’s first province to establish a legal market for private operators, Ontario has distinguished itself, while proving the widespread benefits that derive from a consumer-friendly and commercially-minded framework.
“We believe Ontario’s successful model provides a road map for other provinces to modernize their online gaming frameworks and stamp out the illegal grey market.”
Indigenous operators such as theScore have clearly enjoyed some local advantages when approaching the freshly regulated market, but entry has proved straightforward enough for nonOntarians like Pinnacle, according to the firm’s then CEO Paris Smith.
“The Ontario license application and meeting the requirements were not that difficult,” she explained in a recent interview with SBC Leaders magazine. “The partnership with iGO and AGCO worked well, and based on the recent experience we received when we launched in Sweden and Italy we were in a good place with Ontario. We have a lot of respect for the approach the regulators took to implement the licenses.
“Most, if not all, RG or auditing requirements we either had in place or were already in development. Having said that, internally we did spread the work over a small group of very talented individuals while we were in project mode, but in the last eight months we have hired a wide range of experts locally to address the growing needs in managing the Ontario market.”
That said, Smith was quick to emphasize the importance of building on good regulation with a strong focus on educational content in order to drive
bettor engagement while promoting responsible gambling.
She stated: “What’s the old expression, knowledge is power? Pinnacle is committed to responsible gaming and our aim is to empower bettors and help them become more knowledgeable. When a bettor feels more knowledgeable, we hope they will be more engaged and comfortable with their decisions.
“We feel that Pinnacle offers one of the most comprehensive collections of expert betting advice you’ll find online. With over 2,000 articles in our Betting Resource archive and six series on the Pinnacle Podcast, we are constantly working to better educate and engage with bettors regardless of their prior knowledge or experience.”
Another new entrant to Ontario is UK-based operator Fitzdares. CEO William Woodhams believes that the market is not only set fair for success, but should be used as a benchmark for other regulating jurisdictions.
“There is an engaged wealthy audience and a sensible compliance and legislation structure, and the province has invested to make this work,” he said. “This will be the benchmark for how states in the US should open, and the rest of the world – such as the Middle East and Asia –should look to the province too.”
Woodhams was also highly complimentary of the sophisticated approach shown by Canadian bettors. “Coming in as the luxury proposition, Canadians have good taste – they’re not flashy but love quality, and that’s what we offer,” he said. “Canadians are also the nicest people in the world!
“Toronto is one of the most up-andcoming and vibrant cities going; all of the sport is a five-minute walk, the airport is nearby, and there’s a great culture and cuisine. It’s the real deal.”
How Bet99 Linked With the NHL
Back in December 2022, Canadian sports betting and gaming operator Bet99 entered into a multi-year partnership with the NHL to launch a F2P game, NHL PrePlay.
Based on predictive outcome questions, the partnership is focused on fan engagement and education of hockey fans of the sports betting industry, given its legal infancy in Canada.
As everyone is aware, hockey is king in Canada, providing sportsbooks with access to a wide breadth of avid fans who can be a wide range of ages.
Jared Beber, CEO of Bet99, told Canadian Gaming Business that the partnership with the NHL seeks to primarily educate fans and offer an elevated sense of engagement.
He explained: “At the end of the day, the NHL is in the business of engagement, and so are we. This was an opportunity to really drive engagement both to NHL fans and to bettors. It is a groundbreaking Canadian partnership for both hockey and sports fans.
“There’s a lot of education that is at the forefront of it. And so we wanted to use this as an opportunity not just to amplify that engagement, but also to educate hockey fans, and potential bettors about the game, and the nuances of betting as a whole.”
Often, the connotation of F2P games is a customer acquisition strategy as operators aim to reduce the cost per acquisition
of players and sign as many players up as possible around a big event.
However, Beber was resolute in his assertion that NHL PrePlay is not about acquisition, instead, it is centered on education and increased fan engagement.
“The users come over time, right? This is not created simply as an acquisition tool. This is being used as an opportunity to educate the user as to how they can come and wager if they wanted to, in a responsible way.
“We’ve taken this experience to the next level by offering access to some very unique prizes and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, the biggest prize being a cash prize in the six-figure range, all the way to specific excursions; the Winter Classic, the NHL All-Star Game.”
Association with the NHL brand can also bring significant benefits to Bet99, given its huge popularity across the nation.
Beber, outlining that Canadians “bleed hockey”, said that gaining brand recognition with the most popular sport can help it create a community of players around the league, which it is aiming to build up.
He remarked: “Bet99’s goal is adopting a hyper-localized strategy, understanding that Canada is not one large state, and making sure that product content service is tailored to address the fundamental cultural nuances that exist throughout Canada, and throughout Ontario, for that matter itself.
Bet99 CEO Jared Beber explains why the operator’s partnership with the NHL is a great opportunity to educate sports fans on gaming options and the vast importance of hockey in Canada.
This is being used as an opportunity to educate the user as to how they can come and wager if they wanted to.
“Betting together brings a sense of community and playing this free-to-play game itself is also helping to facilitate that same level of community.”
And that localized strategy is key in the Canadian market, the CEO explained, as local consumers enjoy local choices for most industries, not just sports betting.
“Canadians shop local because they trust local, and to be able to partner with an organization like the NHL really does help to build that additional level of trust and credibility. That’s difficult to achieve outside of such a robust partnership.”
Turning to the product itself, the NHL PrePlay leverages tracking and event data on both players and individuals to allow fans to test their knowledge.
This utilization is essential, according to Beber, who was eager to captivate audiences from the 21+ male to the lifelong 60+-year-old Maple Leafs fan. New technologies and innovation are key pillars of this partnership, which is indicative of the direction that the industry is heading in.
“The NHL and the launch of its player and puck tracking data is an
unbelievable innovation because it’s going to allow people to interact on a much deeper level with the players. To understand the speed, strength, and athletic abilities of these players.
“To have it broken down so granularly, with the data that is now available, is truly special.”
The relationship between sports leagues and sportsbook operators in the last few years has grown exponentially closer in North America over the last few years, as sports leagues aim to explore new revenue streams.
Beber noted that the proliferation of this data and new technologies are going to bear fruit for the leagues in this aspect, as new users flock to their games. Bet99, it seems, is welcoming those players with open arms.
Bet99’s CEO concluded: “This is where sports leagues across multiple different leagues are going towards.
The technical advancements and innovation have led to end users and consumers having access to this data, which is only going to drive further engagement to the sport, to the teams, and to the players, which as a result drives revenue to these organizations into these leads.”
Canadians shop local because they trust local, and to be able to partner with an organization like the NHL really does help to build that additional level of trust and credibility.
Following criticism of gambling ads in Ontario, Shelley White, CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council, delves into whether operators’ advertising is helping or hindering RG efforts.
Whilst the opening of the Ontario igaming and sports betting market provided operators with a significant opportunity to get their message out in a legal way, there are murmurs that ads are not going down as well with the public as first hoped.
Of course, the industry is working successfully around the AGCO regulations while posting strong initial revenue numbers. Yet, both academically and anecdotally, there are concerns over the marketing of gambling products
Research from Ipsos found that bettors in Canada are becoming worried about the amount of gambling advertising there is across the country.WORDS BY CHARLIE HORNER
Citing the revelation that around two-thirds of Canadians think there should be limits on advertising, he added: “I think there is some early anxiety going on in Canada surrounding that volume. Maybe someday will come when people just stop noticing it so much, or maybe it will be regulated or maybe people will just get over it and get used to it.”
The RGC conducts a plethora of research into responsible gambling and the way advertising can impact or potentially cause problematic behavior among vulnerable groups.
So, does the RGC think that operators have gone too far in their marketing practices so far?
Well, for Shelley White, CEO of the RGC, operators are generally advertising to acceptable standards. White went on to praise the work of the regulators in setting out a positive framework: “We’re pleased that in Ontario, the AGCO has prohibited the advertising of inducements, bonuses and credits, which are known to encourage play.
A total of 49% of respondents detailed that they at least somewhat agree with the statement ‘we need more controls on how much gambling is available in Canada; it’s getting out of hand,’ and there has been an 820% increase in negative social media discourse when it comes to gambling advertising.
Scott Morasch, SVP of Ipsos Canada, told CGB: “What we’re seeing initially is the antagonism surrounding advertising, from just the sheer volume that’s been put out there. In the polls that we did recently, we found almost half of Canadians thought that the amount of advertising for gambling should be cut back and that they thought it was excessive.”
“In the last year, the AGCO has issued a few fines to operators who are not in compliance, which demonstrates to us that the standards are being closely monitored and enforced and also speaks to Ontario’s strong commitment to Responsible Gambling safeguards and consumer protections.
“I have to say there are some operators who are doing a very good job at integrating RG into their marketing strategies.”
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that all advertising is immune from criticism. The use of celebrities and current sports personalities has caused some debate in Canada in recent months, with some questioning whether it is suitable to see current sporting stars in ads, particularly when minors are easily impressionable.
I have to say there are some operators who are doing a very good job at integrating RG into their marketing strategies.
IT DOESN'T MATTER HOW SMALL YOUR TEAM IS WHEN YOU CAN SCALE WITH AUTOMATION STARRING FAST TRACK
White cited researchers who found the integrated advertisement of sports betting by expert commentators, celebrities, and, stereotypically, attractive female non-experts, was highly influential to all problem gambling severity.
She explained: “Integrating betting into an established pastime like watching sports normalizes the gambling activity, and some people don’t actually see sports betting as gambling because watching sports is something that’s ingrained in society.
“We do know, based on the body of global evidence, that many sports bettors often perceive their knowledge and ability to predict the outcome of sporting events at a higher level than reality and this illusion of control can pose a greater risk to bettors if not managed.”
In response, the RGC is attempting to add further guidance and strategies specific to Ontario to help operators find the best way to make their products in a safe and responsible manner. It is currently pleading with the Ontario government to work with them and provide extra funding.
Further, the organization continues to roll out its research papers. An upcoming paper, funded by Flutter, is a “first-of-itskind” body of research aiming to inform global advertising standards for both operators and regulators.
Offering an update on this research, White said: “Next month, we will be sharing the mid-year, the midterm report in terms of what we have learned. The conclusion of this important study, which was funded by Flutter Entertainment, will
be shared with its final conclusions and recommendations in early 2024.”
RGC also has its “RG Check” accreditation program, which all iGOpartnered licensed operators must obtain within two years of gaining a license. As of yet, 17 operators have achieved the RG Check accreditation. Advertising is undoubtedly set to become more of a talking point in the months and indeed years ahead, and White hopes that RG Check can help to foster positivity into marketing with the reports and information it offers.
Summarising, the RGC CEO concluded: “We’re very pleased to hear that because we want the operators to use RG Check as a strategic tool that will enable them to continuously improve and develop their Responsible Gambling strategies.”
Many sports bettors often perceive their knowledge and ability to predict the outcome of sporting events at a higher level and this illusion of control can pose a greater risk to bettors.
Cutting Through the Compliance LandscapeWORDS BY REBECCA IP
While the regulated sports betting and igaming markets in Ontario continue to grow, regulatory compliance proves to be complex for operators, who have obligations to both iGaming Ontario (iGO) through their operating agreement and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) as the regulator.
“One of seven steps to enter the Ontario market is to fulfill anti-money laundering (AML) and anti-terrorist financing (ATF) compliance requirements and complete AML information submission,” says Steve Hills (Partner, Audit and National Industry Leader for Lottery and Gaming, KPMG). “This policy is one action item on an operator’s to-do list that requires special attention.”
laundering program requirements in Ontario’s sports betting and igaming markets is far from straightforward, writes Rebecca Ip, Partner, Risk Consulting, Forensic & Financial Crimes for KPMG.
BACKGROUND TO THE REQUIREMENT
On June 1, 2021, new requirements under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA) and its associated regulations came into force nationwide. Although the new reporting forms have not been finalized by Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the requirements have significantly impacted the lottery and gaming industry.
FINTRAC has its own compliance assessment methodology and administrative penalty program. igaming operators must comply with these requirements and iGO’s Operational Guidance. While iGO is the reporting entity responsible for ensuring compliance with the PCMLTFA , operators are responsible for ensuring they meet requirements regardless of their use of third-party AML solutions.
One of the main differences of the Ontario igaming market is that registered account customers who may not be Canadian residents can play online while physically present in Ontario. From an AML compliance standpoint, this brings additional challenges including the international movement of funds and the associated assessment of risks.
Some operators may have operational and regulatory experience developing AML programs under other jurisdictions, such as the United States, Malta, the United Kingdom or Australia. However, compliance with AML requirements in other jurisdictions may not meet the FINTRAC requirements in Canada and Ontario-specific nuances.
It is critical for operators to understand that regulations vary in every country, which requires written controls activities and procedures that are tailored to the Canadian specific AML requirements and operations in Ontario.
THREE COMMON AML PROGRAM CHALLENGES
Operators have specific obligations, including a sound AML compliance program, know your customer (KYC) requirements, regulatory reporting, record keeping, travel rules, ministerial directives as well as sophisticated rules to prevent fraud, money laundering and terrorist financing activities.
3. Fulsome controls and timely filing for regulatory reporting
Under the PCMLTFA, regulatory reporting requirements include but are not limited to reportable electronic fund transfers (EFT), casino disbursement reports (CDR), suspicious transaction reports (STR) and terrorist property reports (TRP).
Here are three common AML program challenges that we have seen impact the igaming industry. Operators need to learn and act on these when planning to launch and expand new opportunities in Ontario.
1. Sufficient KYC requirements and customer due diligence
This includes verification when a person is not physically present, identifying a customer’s Source of Funds (SOF), Source of Wealth (SOW) and other risk factors during the registration and ongoing monitoring process.
2. Proper assessment of business and customer risk
Operators need to conduct an AML risk assessment, considering both their business and customer risks. These include use of AML systems, products and services offered, delivery channels, and customer risks such as, high-risk occupations and politically exposed person (PEP) status. According to FINTRAC, operators must consider a foreign PEP, their family members, and their close associates as highrisk customers.
“Operators also need to consider how they evaluate the effectiveness of the AML/ATF controls and compliance program activities, including timing, scope of review, testing methodology and results of review,” says Joanna Hojjati (Partner, Governance, Risk & Compliance Services, KPMG). “For example, an operator may have the AML assessment conducted by an internal audit team or a qualified, independent third party.” This helps to ensure meeting stringent AML/ATF compliance requirements amid increased regulatory scrutiny in Canada.
PREPARING FOR THE REGULATORY PROCESS
To ensure compliance with iGO’s Operational Guidance and FINTRAC requirements, operators offering iGaming activities in Ontario need to have a clear understanding of the Canadian AML requirements and the specificities of the igaming business model in Ontario. Ongoing monitoring of these requirements can help prevent significant compliance issues in the long run.
While it may be tempting to believe that compliance with AML requirements in Canada is no different than compliance in foreign jurisdictions, the Ontario market requires special attention.
The recommended approach is to identify partnerships with advisors or auditors that have an in-depth understanding of the AML requirements and an extended knowledge of the igaming market in Ontario. This can help ensure operators are on the right path in their AML journey.
The requirements have significantly impacted the gaming industry.
David Flinn, SVP Sales, Canada and South America for IGT, details the gaming powerhouse’s plans for the evolving Canadian landbased and online markets.WORDS BY MARTYN ELLIOTT
Hitting the jackpot across Canada’s gaming markets
On the final day of February, one lucky resident of Ontario won a $1,320,483 jackpot playing an IGT Powerbucks slot. In doing so they became the 47th player to pocket a sevenfigure prize since the omnichannel wide area progressive game debuted in Canada in 2016.
Powerbucks is IGT’s flagship product for the Canadian market and, in Flinn’s view, it is easy to understand why it has proved such a hit with players, lotteries, and commercial operators.
He said: “The uniqueness of Powerbucks is that it actually is omnichannel, so you can play in a land-based casino and then you can go home and you can play for the same jackpot in the digital space.
To my knowledge, and I believe this is still factual, it is the only wide area progressive linked across an entire country in both land-based and digital.
“I wish we knew the secret sauce for every successful game, but there’s definitely components. Sometimes it’s the math, sometimes it’s the title, sometimes it’s the game mechanics. But I think the success of Powerbucks is really around that jackpot and leveraging the liquidity across both land-based and online.”
The spread of the big Powerbucks wins, which have included jackpots hitting in both land-based and online in provinces across Canada, are testament to its popularity. With that in mind, it is no surprise that IGT plans to launch further titles that will integrate with the progressive mechanic.
“Some of our original games, like Powerhits and Arctic Gems, are still out in the market today, which is almost unheard of - it’s some incredible staying power,” said Flinn.
“But our goal is to launch one to two new games a year to freshen up the base. We’ve launched Wheel of Fortune under the Powerbucks banner, we’ve launched a number of different games, and all of them seem to be successful. We really do believe the mechanic of that wide area progressive across digital and land-based is something that is working very well for us.”
IGT is far from a one-trick-pony in the Canadian gaming market. It is long established as a leading supplier to land-based casinos and, having been a launch partner for a number of lotteries’ digital offerings, it is at the head of the online pack as well.
and grown our business, but with IGT’s acquisition of iSoftBet, we’re taking the next step.
“It has given us another huge portfolio of great games that were developed specifically for the digital space, which really has rounded out the library. Rolling out iSoftBet games is an exciting part of our digital journey.”
Another part of that exciting journey is Money Mania, an omnichannel quick-hit progressive, which is scheduled to launch in Q4 2023 or Q1 2024.
“Money Mania is going to be similar to the Powerbucks format, but with a different prize pool,” said Flinn. “So while a Powerbucks jackpot really is a life-changing event, Money Mania is at the opposite end of the spectrum, with the top award of $100,000.
“There is also going to be a progressive, secondary jackpot that will probably hit at around $5,000 to $7,000. With the shared liquidity in Canada, that could hit five, eight or even ten times a day.
“It might not be a life-changing jackpot, but it will definitely make your week! And we believe that because this quick-hit progressive will hit more often, and create a lot of excitement and chatter.”
The digital and omnichannel plans will be backed by further land-based releases, including a Canadian launch for the Prosperity Link multi-level progressive, which won Game of the Year in the US in 2022.
However, new products are not the only thing in development at IGT. The company is also stepping up its efforts to be a good citizen via its Sustainable Play™ initiative, which celebrates IGT’s dedication to its people and the planet, and its commitment to sustainable operations and supporting communities.
“I’m incredibly proud of all our efforts around sustainability,” said Flinn. “One really cool programme is our work with Treedom, which sees us give away trees at trade shows instead of stress balls, water bottles etc.
Its initial online product set was largely based on successful land-based slots, such as Cleopatra, Cats and Rich Girl, but IGT’s approach has evolved over time and it now also has a selection of digital-first titles that it intends to build on.
Flinn explained: “We’ve got that strong portfolio of land-based games, which has driven the business
“Treedom plants trees where they are needed and where they grow quickly, and the IGT Forest now has coffee, cashew, papaya, lemon and other trees, in countries including Colombia, Madagascar, and Kenya.”
The Treedom partnership launched at G2E last October and will again be in action at IGT’s booth at the 2023 Canadian Gaming Summit.
It might not be a lifechanging jackpot, but it will definitely make your week!
Stay at the top of your game
Developments in the regulation of the gaming industry in Canada have created incredible opportunities. Osler’s Gaming Practice Group has the expertise to help navigate the complex and evolving legal landscape. Our reputation as a trusted advisor in this sector has been built on specialized client service to leading gaming operators, gaming-related suppliers, financial institutions and provincial gaming authorities.
For more information, contact:Eric Levy, Chair of the Gaming Group at email@example.com Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt llp Toronto Montréal Calgary Ottawa Vancouver New York osler.com/gaming
BRINGING SPORTS BETTING INTO THE WORLD OF CASINO
Like many consumer metrics, global betting demographics are changing fast, and one of the biggest drivers in this space is the evolution of short-form content on social media, writesDr Andreas Koeberl, CEO of BetGames.
Today’s new generation of bettors demand the same short-form experience they get from the likes of Tik-Tok. It’s easy to see why micro-betting is taking off so fast in the US, as well as being backed by the likes of the social platform’s superstar, Jake Paul.
When it comes to delivering that same entertainment to sports fans, this is exactly what we cater for with our newly launched Twain Sport in Canada, this time at the same margins as casino.
We’re one of the best studios in the world to deliver this. For over a decade, we’ve made our name at BetGames by introducing fixed-odds betting in a live dealer format to sports fans.
We’re now bringing that same expertise to Canada with Twain Sport using our own hybrid versions of soccer and basketball.
Launched just eight months ago, we’ve seen unprecedented demand for our revolutionary new vertical. Already live with 40+ global operators, Twain Sport delivers non-stop, fixed-odds sports betting, designed for the new generation of bettor.
In short, Twain offers 60 seconds of action-packed basketball and soccer games played by real athletes competing in bespoke one-on-one challenges.
Ensuring high-turnover and low stakes for extended sessions of engagement, Twain offers massive value. Totalling 1,440 matches each day, broadcast 24/7, our fast-paced, action-packed events are the perfect proposition for operators.
We all know Canada is a sports-crazy nation, and our mission there is to bring sports punters closer to the casino world. That’s exactly our niche and our DNA; converting sports-savvy players into casino with a much lower CPA.
So, what’s the use-case? As we’ve seen in Europe before, during and after sports matches, it’s all about keeping bettors engaged before and after big events.
This is the exact reason why the crosssell exists, and with Twain’s non-stop basketball and soccer matches, we offer the perfect product to serve that demand. I believe this demand for new shorter-form, Tik-Tok style content is exactly what the market is looking for right now, and we’re here to fulfil that requirement.
Our extensive research ahead of launching on the continent identified exactly which demographics and audiences we’ll be entertaining, and we see an excellent product fit here.
For a start, the average Canadian bettor is between 25 and 35 years old, which is the exact demographic we’re here to entertain.
The new generation of player is looking for instant thrills and payouts, similar to what you have with the likes of casino, rather than waiting hours for an NBA or NFL match to finish.
We take that passion for sport and bring that format into play, bridging both 24/7 sport and high-frequency betting, without any of the barriers to entry you’ll see with most casino games.
We see this as the future of entertainment. Bringing sports into the casino world means attracting sports fans and moving them away from the lower margins associated with sports betting.
By doing that, we’re able to offer a customer lifetime value on a par with casino margins - while greatly boosting your customer base.
There’s no other betting product that comes close to what Twain offers. We repackage the basic USPs of slots, virtuals and live casino into one and deliver it in a fixed-odds format where sports fans can feel right at home.
We’ve really seen demand for cross-sell products take off post-pandemic, and live casino has gone some way towards filling that niche in recent years. However, while it offers plenty of those core tenets
that bettors are looking for, economics is quickly making it unprofitable. An operator brand needs to pay hundreds of thousands for bespoke live game shows and branded content, as well as custom studios.
That, of course, is very expensive, and with margins now being squeezed more than ever before, it’s becoming untenable for many studios to meet that demand while still turning a profit.
We offer the perfect solution to this and more with Twain. Not only do we offer better margins than live casino, we also do it in a way where sports fans will feel right at home, with close to zero barriers to entry.
The only other product that comes close is slots. Evolution of course is a good example of that. It has invested hugely into slots in recent years, buying up NetEnt, Red Tiger and NoLimit City, which is a further indicator of a wider industry transformation towards faster, instant games.
We’re here to cater to every millennial and Gen-Z sports fan out there with that instant entertainment. Not only that, but it’s a product that can be inherently trusted. We offer the integrity and trust sports fans are looking for.
All our participants are professional athletes at the top of their game, as well as being monitored by Sportradar’s world-class monitoring, which is the same level tech you’ll see with the likes of FIBA and UEFA.
To cap it off, as well as delivering topquality entertainment with integrity, we also offer quantity.
In short, there’s nothing else like it. With real-life basketball and soccer matches available every 60 seconds, 24/7, Twain Sport is here to deliver exactly what the next generation of Canadian bettors are looking for.
We all know Canada is a sportscrazy nation, and our mission there is to bring sports punters closer to the casino world.
gaining momentum in North America
Having established a reputation as a global industry leader with a library of standout slot content, Wazdan has enjoyed another impressive year in North America, writes the games provider’s CCO Andrzej Hyla.WORDS BY ANDRZEJ HYLA
The Wazdan team have created games that delight players in more than 20 regulated markets around the world. We are now looking to continue making our mark in one of the most up-and-coming regions on the igaming map.
HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING IN NORTH AMERICA
Providing a next-level player experience and delivering proven results to US and Canadian operators, we at Wazdan have established ourselves as a force to be reckoned with in the North American market.
Since entering the market in 2021, Wazdan has made quite an impression among operators. Following the success of our initial launch in New Jersey, we have since expanded to Michigan, West Virginia, and Ontario.
Our commitment to boosting player engagement has seen us sign deals with key US players including Rush Street Interactive and Light & Wonder, and go live with several major online casino operators in Canada, such as Caesars Sportsbook & Casino, LeoVegas, and ComeOn, among others.
Wazdan’s commercial success in North America has been driven by a notable slot portfolio, which is constantly being updated with new titles featuring innovative mechanics.
For this reason, we have recently been shortlisted for the prestigious SBC Awards North America and EGR North America Awards.
PLETHORA OF EXCITING RELEASES
We offer more than 50 top-performing games across North America. This diverse range of engaging content includes timeless classics such as the awardwinning slots 9 Lions and Larry the Leprechaun.
The North American market is also privy to games featuring the renowned Hold the Jackpot mechanic, with Fortune Reels, Sun of Fortune, Power of Gods™: Hades, and Sizzling Moon™ all available, as well as recent releases which have already made a splash, such as
9 Coins™, Sizzling Eggs™, Power of Sun™: Svarog, Sizzling Kingdom™: Bison and the retro Hot Slot™ series.
Wazdan’s mobile-optimized games are available on all devices including PCs, mobiles, tablets, IOS apps, and with an ever-growing list of new titles and features, our team helps operators to stay ahead of the curve.
With ambitious expansion plans, we aren’t slowing down and will be releasing a slew of new games with engagement-boosting features on American soil.
Wazdan’s impressive growth in North America demonstrates a commitment to innovation and player engagement. Unique features and tools available for Canadian and US players include the Hold the Jackpot, Cash Infinity™, Sticky to Infinity™, and Collect to Infinity™ mechanics.
These added-value solutions are Wazdan’s flagship inventions that promise to please even the most demanding players and enhance their experience through high-immersion levels.
At their core, these innovative mechanics are intended to offer players increased engagement, and they are excellent retention-boosting tools that are proven to amplify casinos’ results.
UNPARALLELED LEVEL OF CUSTOMIZATION
Customization is the secret formula to engagement. It keeps players satisfied, loyal, and coming back for more. At Wazdan, we have grown our cutting-edge player customization suite to an unparalleled level.
Wazdan games come with multiple settings and features that allow players to personalize and control their gameplay - from screen display options and battery saving mode, through game loading time and game pace settings to adjustable volatility, on-demand access to desired bonuses, and a chance to double wins.
Volatility Levels™, Wazdan’s ingenious, operator-favourite tool, allows players to set and change their preferred volatility at any time during the gameplay, accommodating all types of players, from recreational to VIPs.
On top of this, its extended capabilities provide casinos with advanced tools to target selected player groups.
As a company, we stand out as a clientcentric provider by placing our partners and players at the heart of everything we do, utilizing their feedback to enhance products and develop new engagement-boosting features that deliver proven results.
Offering either a direct integration or via aggregation platforms to operators, we ensure a smooth, straight-forward launch.
State-of-the-art promotional tools, including Cash Drop and Mystery Drop, boost player experience and enhance KPIs, while network promotions with massive prize pools covered by Wazdan allow operators to ramp up their metrics.
Through forward-thinking solutions and immersive slot games, we enable operators to unlock their true potential, allowing them to know their players better, define segments, and then deploy engagement tools to generate interest, reduce churn, secure VIP potential, and improve results.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR WAZDAN
Wazdan has made a significant impact on the North American gaming market. We now plan to expand further to Connecticut and Pennsylvania, and sign new deals with reputable operators in regulated Canadian provinces.
With an exciting roadmap of unique content planned for the months ahead, our journey in North America has only just started.
Wazdan’s team will be showcasing their innovative products at booth G142 during the Canadian Gaming Summit, inviting operators to drop by and get familiar with their offer.
We aren’t slowing down and will be releasing a slew of new games with engagement-boosting features.
Modernizing AML with Public-Private Partnerships in
CanadaWORDS BY JOSEPH MARTIN
The gaming industry is undergoing a technological revolution as it moves beyond the limitations of outdated siloed systems into a new and exciting future. With a shared emphasis on innovation and modernization, operators and regulators alike are pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in gaming.
The 2022-2023 FINTRAC department plan committed to enhancing its emphasis on innovation and modernization with a focus on implementing a multi-year digital strategy aimed at transforming FINTRAC into a leading digital organization.
The Director and Chief Executive Officer of FINTRAC explained: “Our strategy is concentrated on delivering agile and client-centric solutions for both internal and external stakeholders based on the use of new and emerging digital technologies that add business value, improve performance, enhance digital services and enrich the user experience.”
One impressive aspect of this modernization strategy is that it extends beyond enhancing capabilities and emphasizes the very tenants of modern Agile software methodology: adding business value and enriching the user experience.
FINTRAC is not alone in the drive to modernize AML risk management on the regulatory front. The Ontario
Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) and iGaming Ontario (iGO) are leading the charge at the province level.
In March 2022, iGO recognized the need for a technological approach to AML prior to the igaming market going live in Ontario and launched a market sounding exercise aimed at understanding the latest AML technologies available.
This trend towards public-private partnerships underpinned by technology is emerging between regulators and operators around the world. Tribes in the US and national regulators who own or are closely embedded with gaming operators are now seeking AML ecosystems that provide connectivity among operators in a jurisdiction with a rich feature set at the regulator level to help identify trends, facilitate investigations, and produce reporting.
This fascinating evolution in private-public partnerships in AML risk management is made possible through modern technologies now readily available.
Over the past decade, Agile development methodologies and the rapid advancement of cloud-based applications and technologies have opened the door to unique partnerships that were unthinkable just a decade ago.
The rapid evolution of technology is creating opportunities to revolutionize AML risk management, writes Joseph Martin, CEO of Kinectify.
APIs facilitate more complex and efficient internal systems as well as connectivity to external systems and data sources. And machine learning and AI are taking automation to the next level.
All of this put together provides flexibility and scalability, enabling software to evolve with regulatory changes and user demands. Gone are the days of on-prem solutions frozen in-time reliant on intensive client systems administration.
These more robust public-private partnerships rely on the connectivity of modern technology systems to numerous data integration points to pull together data into displays and workflows specifically designed for AML risk management.
Some of the most sought-after features by regulators and operators alike include moving beyond transaction monitoring rule sets and into truly understanding and assessing gaming behavior; visualizing analytics; linking data together; storytelling; and automation around foundational workflows.
Likewise, operators crave innovative modern software solutions to drive efficiency and protect their organizations from crippling enforcement actions and reputational damage. Operators often operate within tight profit margins, especially in the new online world of sports betting where they are battling for profitability.
No one wants to be the subject of negative press around unsavory AML issues or enforcement actions, and many executives personally do not want to support the heinous crimes associated with money laundering such as human trafficking and drug-related crimes.
At the same time, resources are scarce, and executives need to carefully balance financial and human resources against multiple critical areas.
Additionally, in today’s gaming world, operators must remain agile and responsive to market conditions spinning up new products and services at a moment’s notice and entering new markets quickly.
Compliance departments no longer have the luxury of a predictable gaming market and must quickly respond to business opportunities and help facilitate growth.
All these factors propel gaming executives towards modernizing their compliance functions to provide flexibility and scalability while preserving the integrity of their risk management programs.
While the long history of compliance in gaming has been a people-function managed in labor-intensive ways with the assistance of outdated technology, the future is leveraging AML technology that has rapidly advanced over recent years to drive efficiency, flexibility, and increased capabilities.
In Canada, this future embraces strong public-private partnerships as workflows like government filings span operators, provincial regulators, and FINTRAC.
The future state of gaming risk management is exciting. The next step in the Canadian gaming industry’s journey toward innovation and modernization is likely the establishment of publicprivate partnerships facilitated by advanced technology at the province level.
Modern software will continue to progress at a lightning pace, bringing fresh capabilities to gaming organizations and regulators alike.
This technological renaissance in gaming will provide compliance professionals options never before imagined and help fulfill FINTRAC’s multi-year strategy to become a leading digital organization built atop a provincial system with cutting edge technologies in AML risk management.
Modern software will continue to progress at a lightning pace.
Improving player experience with state- of-the-art technology
The latest technology can solve a huge number of problems and create more efficient processes for casino operators, as Jeri N. Reyes, Corporate Marketing Manager for Everi, explains.WORDS BY JERI N. REYES
The successful management of a casino floor is a complex operation, encompassing everything from engaging games to entertain patrons to compliance requirements and payments systems.
Everi has a long history of working with casino operators to design and implement innovative gaming and financial technology that delivers the right experience for players, and its latest generation of products continues that tradition.
Making an impression on the casino floor is the Dynasty Vue™, the first form factor in Everi’s new Dynasty family of game cabinets. It provides sightlines comparable to a dual-screen cabinet but features a custom display that enables our designers to create game mechanics players would typically experience on a portrait cabinet, all with the functionality and integrated base of a slant top.
This innovative form factor features a uniquely shaped main game display and an
integrated 27-inch top box with distinctive dual-banded lighting integrated with gameplay for maximum attract value.
Our gaming range is not just designed to delight players, it also includes products that help casino operators to please regulators. Among them is Meters Xpress™, which simplifies the process of meeting the regulatory requirement to record progressive values.
It utilizes revolutionary mobile technology to capture this data quickly, accurately, and consistently to minimize the time spent on an otherwise cumbersome task. State-of-the-art optical character recognition technology reads progressive meters quickly and intelligently, and along with voice recognition and keypad entry, accurately records and stores all progressives quickly and efficiently.
The MetersXpress backend reporting system can manage asset files, configure to-do lists, and review any variances.
Part of the reason for our strong relationships with casino operators is how efficiently Everi’s products make the process of handling deposits and payouts, reducing friction and improving customer experience.
One such solution is CashClub Wallet®, which empowers casino operators to successfully deliver on all aspects of the emerging mobile ecosystem, including funding at the gaming device and payments at point of sale.
It delivers a true cashless experience, while still providing customers with multiple options to access funds while on the casino floor.
With privacy and security built into every transaction, the Wallet provides patrons with another option to fund their gaming experience. Store credit and debit cards are funded quickly and easily by using the mobile,
cashless offering, while the Wallet can also be used for retail, online, hotel, and food and beverage transactions.
All transactions with CashClub Wallet, which allows customers to store credit and debit cards in one central secure location, are backed by FDIC institutions.
The Wallet provides a truly frictionless payment alternative to the traditional cash option, while acting as a genuine omnichannel solution for the casino floor, sports betting, mobile, retail, and hospitality.
Everi also offers an improved cash redemption experience in the form of the ecash Premium CRT. One of the most stylish, powerful and easy-to-use CRTs available, it combines speed, advanced graphics, and all the key payment functions needed on the gaming floor.
The premium CRT delivers advanced payment technology with a large edge lit screen and elegant design. Alternatively, the ecash Mini CRT offers a cost-effective
redemption solution for smaller gaming venues, such as AWP and VLT operations. The Mini benefits from an ultra-small footprint, while maintaining key features designed to industry standards.
One last key offering that I’d like to mention here is Everi’s Venuetize™ solution. It delivers a seamless, digital experience to guests in a sports or entertainment venue, while providing a reliable, scalable, and secure cloud environment.
The platform drives engagement by identifying users, communicating with and rewarding them, and delivering the right content via a CM.
The orchestration of the components, whether in-house to Venuetize or through third-party integration, optimizes the delivery of those seamless customer experiences.
To find out more about Everi’s latest product range, visit us at Booth H100 at the Canadian Gaming Summit this June.
The gaming range is not just designed to delight players, it also includes products that help casino operators to please regulators.
OPTX: Creating Agency for Casino Managers Through AIWORDS BY JESSICA WELMAN
CEO Brooke Fiumara and
Data Science Steve Bright, tells CGB how the firm can leverage AI in its suite of products to simplify the casino management process.
Just about every department in a casino has stories of using a product expressly designed for something else besides gaming and finding a way to retrofit it to work with what they do or need.
That is not to say there aren’t casino-specific products, but sometimes their scope is beyond what a solution necessarily needs.
“We are highly, highly vertical in the gaming space. There are a lot of different tools out there that I call incredibly horizontal, which means they do a lot of things for a lot of different industries, but they don’t do any one thing really particularly well
right out of the box,” said OPTX CEO Brooke Fiumara.
OPTX aims to do just that by using artificial intelligence across its suite of products in order to streamline a property’s data into actionable solutions.
Take, for example, the Slots AI offering, which can utilize data to generate insights about what games will be most successful in certain areas of the casino floor. Instead of trial and error taking up time and resources, the product can project how similar titles might perform, which titles are on the rise, and which titles resonate with the core VIP demographic.
Steve Bright, Vice President of Data Science for OPTX, put these improvements in more concrete terms.
“We found that if we only consider the changes that our model has approved, instead of each slot food change being a 50/50 proposition, now it’s a 60/40 proposition,” he explained. “As the client is making hundreds and thousands of these individual changes, they add up and they provide a real statistical mathematical benefit that we can quantify and observe, and that’s a big selling point for us.”
The machine learning of OPTX extends beyond other machines, too. The Player Development and Player Development AI tools serve different functions, but both fundamentally help casinos track and understand their players.
Player Development tools can integrate players’ behavior and spend into a streamlined coding proceess to automate the historically cumbersome spin code and request code process hosts follow today. Moreover, the OPTX Connect feature enables properties to reach out and call, text, or email customers from within the platform, creating efficiency, consistency, and security in guest communications. The ability and ease with which casino hosts can engage with the system has drawn praise as well.
“Love how we can quickly identify players using the player tags within OPTX. We’ve started a birthday program to go out and give our players a gift, because now its easy to see these players on the floor monitor,” said Rivers Casino Pittsburgh Player Development Manager John Bryner.
The Player Development tools help people like casino hosts track their day-to-
day activity. The Player Development AI tools enable casino managers to predict future behavior and make choices about promotional offers accordingly.
“What we have done is we built a model that looks at not just that data, but also the frequency, the intensity of those visits, any sort of trends. There are many factors and we we use our model to empower the casino to segment players based on their forecasted value, not just their historical value,” Bright said of the tools.
Understanding these behaviors and trends can help casino marketing teams plan for future promotions and unique offers. Other OPTX options at their disposal are the Marketing and Marketing AI toolkits.
Black Mesa Casino’s Marketing Director lauded the ability to segment email campaigns. Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City Logan Lovsmith similarly applauded the company’s tools’ abilities to quickly identify and segment players, supplementing what used to be a taxing manual process.
“I had selected 304 guests originally, and the Connect Feature was able to sort out those without email addresses and those with DNC markers on file within seconds. We’ve had a lot going on today, and I’ve been running behind, so it legit just saved me 2-3 hours of my night tonight,” Lovsmith said of the company.
Cutting down on manual processes and eliminating burdensome spreadsheets are one component of the marketing offering. Instead of poring over SQL and trying to divide and subdivide a group, OPTX can query and sort these segments instantaneously.
Fundamentally, OPTX is about giving smaller and regional casinos more options. Be it options with freed-up time, analyticspowered options on the best way to grow the business, or options on how to best reach out and connect with a customer, there is a solution, and one that is catered specifically to gaming as opposed to something operators can simply make due with.
Our strategic moves will lead to improved property performance and player satisfaction.
LOYALTY NOW LIVES ON THE SMARTPHONE
Today, one of the biggest buzzwords in the industry is omnichannel. What is omnichannel? It’s creating a smoother, more customer-centric experience for patrons that makes it easier for them to engage with a gaming operator as well as fund and pay for entertainment on and off the casino floor.
It also makes it easier for them to earn, track, and apply loyalty rewards. In return, the operator will develop a stronger (and dare one say, more loyal) relationship with a customer.
Omnichannel is not a new idea. The difference now is the remarkable transformation that’s occurred with digital technologies over the past few years that makes creating an omnichannel experience a tangible reality.
Sightline’s Mobile+ solution (formerly known as Joingo) offers gaming operators a platform that allows them to engage with patrons through their smartphones in highly personalized, interactive, and rewarding ways - all without requiring the costly investment and upgrades a kiosk does.
Mobile+ provides patrons a fully customizable app integrated into an operator’s casino management system and point-of-sale systems. This app allows patrons to experience the convenience of cashless payments, access casino/resort services, as well as track and earn rewards before, during, and after their visit.
The platform has quickly become the mobile engagement solution of choice for over 100 gaming operators across North America. Mobile+ offers a variety of advanced features, allowing operators to view multiple types of analytics, locate patrons, and send targeted offers and messages while they’re either on or off property.
One of the key features of Mobile+ is the ability for players and guests to use their mobile devices to virtually check in for promotions and even into the resort hotel, rather than having to go to a physical kiosk on the casino floor or wait in line at the lobby.
“Today’s consumer wants to do everything from their mobile device,” said Joe Pappano, Co-CEO of Sightline. “Mobile+ removes friction for consumers while improving operator efficiency, placing us undoubtedly at the forefront of gaming’s digital transformation.”
The digital transformation of the gaming industry has created tremendous opportunities to engage with patrons in new and innovative ways. Sightline’s Mobile+ solution provides a platform that not only defines the mobile-first experience for customers, but also increases loyalty and drives revenue growth.
Please visit SightlinePayments.com for more information.
Today’s consumer wants to do everything from their mobile device.
Loyalty programs have come a long way from the days of spitting out paper tickets to the sophisticated marketing kiosks and casino apps where customers can check-in and check their rewards status on demand.
WORDS BY MARTYN ELLIOTT
Embracing the Power of Alternative Payments
The success of Ontario’s igaming market has brought a growing demand for alternative payment solutions. Dave Roe, the COO of Paramount Commerce, tells CGB why they are proving popular with players.WORDS BY MARTYN ELLIOTT
Paramount Commerce celebrated its 20th anniversary this April. Over the past two decades, as a leader in the alternative payments space, what changes have you and the company seen?
Paramount Commerce has undergone significant changes over the past two decades, with one of its core values being ‘Change Or Die’.
The company has embraced change and evolved with the market, increasing its ability to scale and meet customer needs through strategic partnerships and integration with the right tools and vendors.
The evolution of devices used by consumers has impacted the company’s solutions with the balance completely shifting to remote purchases being made through mobile devices and various wearables.
Looking back over the first year of regulated igaming in Ontario, what observations have you made about payments and alternative payments?
The regulation of igaming in Ontario has had a noticeable impact on consumer payment behaviour, with players facing issues such as rejection rates and unwanted fees through traditional payment methods like credit cards.
Alternative payment methods have played a crucial role in improving the user experience, providing greater convenience and accessibility for players to fund their accounts and withdraw winnings. As a result, bank account-based payment methods have seen a rise in popularity.
Increasing concerns around security and privacy have also driven players towards alternative payment methods, as players become more aware of the risks associated with traditional payment methods.
How do Ontario’s igaming industry regulations impact the adoption and use of alternative payment solutions?
The adoption and use of alternative payment solutions in Ontario’s igaming industry have been influenced significantly by the regulations put in place by the province. These regulations have created a more competitive market for payment solutions by enforcing specific standards of security and reliability that providers must meet.
Paramount Commerce is proud to mention that our solutions are fully compliant and equipped with bank account ownership and geolocation features that provide regulatory benefits for igaming operators.
As a result, igaming operators have been encouraged to seek out and accept alternative payment solutions, leading to increased adoption of these solutions in the market.
The enhanced security and reliability of payment solutions have fostered trust among players, leading to their increased usage of alternative payment solutions that meet the regulatory requirements.
As innovation continues in online gaming, such as in-game betting, what are alternative payment providers doing to catch up?
The online gaming industry is constantly evolving, and as new trends like in-game betting emerge, alternative payment providers are investing heavily in innovation to keep up with the changing landscape.
One example of such innovation is Paramount Commerce’s One-Click repeat deposits feature, available through our Instant Bank Transfer solution. This feature enables players to make quick and easy repeat deposits without having to constantly enter their payment information. This feature is especially useful for in-game betting, where players may need to place multiple bets quickly.
Additionally, alternative payment providers such as Paramount Commerce are working closely with merchants to identify new opportunities and develop tailored solutions, such as Instant Bank Transfer, which provides a fast and secure way for players to move money directly from their bank accounts.
Overall, the focus on innovation and collaboration highlights the importance of adapting to the changing online gaming landscape to provide players with the best possible experience.
What are the prospects for alternative
payment solutions in Ontario’s igaming industry, and how do they fit into the broader trends in online gaming globally?
Alternative payment solutions such as bank account-based payment methods are critical to the growth of Ontario’s igaming industry and online gaming worldwide.
Players require convenient and secure payment options, especially in igaming where they must transfer funds quickly and safely to participate in online games and place bets.
In Ontario’s igaming industry, alternative payment solutions such as Instant Bank Transfer have been essential in driving growth for operators due to the solution being a well-known brand amongst Canadians and the frictionless payments journey it provides.
Globally, the role of alternative payment solutions is expected to become even more prominent due to the popularity of mobile gaming.
As the industry progresses, a greater focus on account-to-account payment solutions will provide players with even greater convenience and security.
Therefore, alternative payment solutions will continue to be a critical driver of brand and customer growth for operators in Ontario’s igaming industry and in online gaming worldwide.
Increasing concerns around security and privacy have driven players towards alternative payment methods.
Skating to where the
PUCK is goingWORDS BY NASR SATTAR
If you are interested in innovation or entrepreneurship, you may have come across the term “disciplined entrepreneurship”. It is a framework pioneered by a professor at my alma mater at the MIT Sloan School of Management and the Managing Director of the Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship, Bill Aulet. While I was lucky enough to explore the course, I am even luckier to work for John and Michael Dominelli at NRT Technologies.
In business, as in life, execution is everything, and ideas and frameworks will only take you so far. But for 30 years now, NRT has developed an uncanny ability to accurately assess opportunities and to repeatedly develop realistic problemsolving technology.
The story goes that a friend of John’s who knew him to be an engineer and problem-solver called one day in 1999 and talked about TITO, the new ground-
breaking ticket in/ticket out technology at casinos to see if he could build him an automated solution. The first jackpot cash dispensing kiosk was born.
A few years later, in 2004, the leading provider of ATMs at casinos worked with NRT to develop the first full-service ticket redemption kiosk. Twelve thousand plus kiosks later, the NRT brand at a casino is like saying “Kleenex” or “Q-tip”. Near ubiquitous brand association with a ticket redemption kiosk.
In 2009, NRT ventured towards disciplined entrepreneurship once again and brought in a payments switch to intelligently route all financial services transactions. Understanding the requirements for reliability and security to access funds at a casino, NRT solved both problems by incorporating encryption and maximizing up-time into its payments solution set.
Nasr Sattar, Senior Vice President, Strategy & Innovation at NRT Technology, tells the story of his company’s history and, in doing so, explains why ongoing innovation is crucial in the gaming industry.
This also led to massive growth in the retail payments processing industry in Canada for NRT while drastically simplifying the solution set for retailers.
In 2017, NRT pioneered the concept of “Connecting the Guest Experience”. Today we talk about cashless and omnichannel solutions in casinos and gaming at every conference and in every trade publication. Six years ago that was like talking about the internet in 1988.
To put actions into words NRT went through developing and acquiring distinct solutions for all the areas of a casino a customer wants to go to and looked at the gaming business more as a marketplace of entertainment then just a casino floor.
NRT brought in and built out innovative solutions like digital markers, table management systems, credit aggregation tools, and compliance tracking. Skating to where the puck is going is ingrained in NRT’s DNA. And in some ways, this is just the beginning for NRT.
The first mega resort to launch on the Las Vegas strip in more than a decade, Resorts World Las Vegas, opened its doors in 2021. NRT was one of the anchor partners for the opening, incorporating nearly all the latest and greatest technology from NRT, including a built from the ground up multifunctional marketing, loyalty, and enrollment kiosk.
The ideas behind NRT’s innovation principles have always been the same: identify and define operational burden for gaming establishments, develop innovative solutions with current technology, and iterate improvements over the lifecycle of the product. “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work,” is an ethos at NRT.
Yet sometimes, you just need to follow a dream.
Everyone is talking about AI and the potential impact of this technology in fintech and gaming today. NRT has pursued a dream to solve AI-based bet and chip recognition on casino gambling tables since 2018. The advantages of such a system are significant, impacting operational staff, and evaluating risks and rewards in near real-time.
Today we are at the cusp of camerabased bet recognition, an elegant solution to the infinitely complex and dynamic environment of a casino gambling table From something as new as AI to something as old as human history, innovation around the movement of money is particularly close to NRT’s product set.
From seashells to the tally stick to the seminal white paper on a Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, people have always thought about better ways to access and move money. NRT was another first in this category, pioneering and launching a real-time bank-to-bank payments solution for the gaming industry in 2022.
For 30 years NRT has organically lived by the principles of an anti-fragile, principled, and innovative organization obsessed with solving problems that matter to its customers. We obsess over the details and simplify the process of innovation down to its core. Our best products come from establishing meaningful partnerships with casinos focused and willing to take the day-to-day steps in solving today’s challenges with today’s technology.
We thank all those partners willing to believe and have the discipline to embrace technology with us as we continue to strive to be better together for our patrons. And look forward to what’s next.
We are at the cusp of camera-based bet recognition, an elegant solution to the infinitely complex and dynamic environment of a casino gambling table.