Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. has a significant to-do list for 2022 that includes offering more sports, accessories and a standalone mobile app to users of its PROLINE + online sportsbook – which is expected to face a lot more competition legal in the coming months.
“We look forward to making further progress in the new year,” said Dave Pridmore, OLG’s chief digital and strategy officer, in a recent interview with Covers.
First, however, the government-owned entity wants to ensure that loyal Ontario customers can place bets on a single game at the hundreds of lottery outlets across the province.
For decades, OLG customers have visited stores to fill out paper slips and get their bet tickets. However, until relatively recently, Canadian law required these bets to be bets. The requirement was not officially removed until August after federal lawmakers legalized one-game sports betting offered by the provinces.
Now, the most common question customers ask OLG is when will single-game bets be available at lottery retailers, according to Pridmore.
“So that has really been our focus, is to make sure that our retail clients have the ability to place a single retail bet,” he said.
New retail capabilities, including a “bet builder” mobile app to help place bets in person, are expected to launch in the new year. OLG also owns more than two dozen casinos, and the company is in discussions with its private sector service providers on how to set up and operate live sports betting at these facilities.
Also on OLG’s roster is the spring launch of a digital version of its “POOLS” game, in which players bet $ 5 each to see who can most correctly predict the outcome of a list of games, such as NFL action this weekend. The winners receive the pot of money wagered.
Online competitors on the way
Various changes are also being made to OLG’s PROLINE +. Online sports betting was launched on August 27 and remains the only legal point of sale for betting on Internet sports in Ontario.
It’s online that OLG could soon face intense competition for Ontarians’ betting dollars.
This is because the Ontario government is trying to put the finishing touches on a new market for internet casino games and sports betting. The market envisioned by the province would allow private sector operators of online sports betting to compete – and OLG – to take bets from Ontario players. In exchange for access to the provincial market, the operators would give the government a reduction in the revenue generated.
Several big names in the sports betting industry have expressed an interest in setting up their businesses in Ontario. Some of these operators have deep pockets and aren’t afraid to spend huge amounts of money on advertising and generous sign-up offers in the United States.
OLG has never faced the kind of legal competition the Ontario government seeks to encourage with its online gaming framework, which would also be a first for Canada.
So since the announcement of the new market in 2019, the provincial operator has been working to close the “product gap” it may have relative to its potential competitors, Pridmore said. These efforts include the launch of PROLINE + and the recent addition of live dealer casino games to the OLG website.
PROLINE + is only accessible through a website at this time, but OLG aims to launch a mobile app for the book around mid-2022, Pridmore said.
Adding more sports and accessories is also a priority, as PROLINE + is primarily a meat and potato operation at this point. For example, a PROLINE + bettor can bet on a football game but not a NASCAR race, and that there will be a missed field goal in an NFL game but not on the number of yards per run. pass that a quarterback accumulates.
“Our goal is to continue to add more sports gradually throughout the year,” said Pridmore.
While OLG plans to have more gaming accessories available for the Super Bowl, the wider assortment of gaming accessories is not expected to be in full swing until mid-2022, he added.
In general, however, OLG tries to control things it can control, such as offering the best betting markets and the best possible odds on events that are of most interest to locals, such as Toronto Maple Leafs games. The company is also making sure customers know they can bet online with it and that the proceeds will help fund hospitals and other provincial responsibilities.
“From a strategic standpoint, I would say we’re not really creating hyper-competitive tactics to try to fend off any of our competition,” Pridmore said.
Waking up to two NFL games on a Tuesday like: pic.twitter.com/XgZOmauX3H
– PROLINE & PROLINE + (@OLGproline) December 21, 2021
OLG’s gaming website has already racked up around 1.1 million customers and about a quarter of all new users arrive to bet on sports, according to Pridmore. About 70% of sports betting is single-event betting, he noted.
There were growing pains, however. Opening the province’s only legal online sports betting site means having to manage the risk associated with the arrival of savvy punters and their potentially heavy bets. PROLINE + caps single bets at $ 20,000, but these limits can be lowered for several reasons, such as a player’s activity.
Additionally, OLG’s online sports betting site has only been live since the end of August, and “taking the stakes into account” is something the company is still grappling with, Pridmore said.
“Politics will continue to be evaluated as we grow up and take more bets,” he added.
There will likely be betting limits on the other books that will also open in Ontario’s new iGaming market. Internet gambling provided by private operators in this market will be technically driven and managed by iGaming Ontario (iGO), a recently created government agency.
“iGO expects operators to run their businesses prudently, which may require business decisions to limit player activity in certain situations,” iGaming Ontario spokesperson Lindsay Rennie said in an email. “IGO operators need to have processes in place to address customer concerns. “
And there’s a non-zero chance that OLG will face a barrage of new kid bonus offers on the block when the Ontario iGaming market opens. This poses a different kind of challenge for the company because it has to respond to its shareholder, the Ontario government, which has to respond to its bosses, the voters.
“We will continue to be as competitive as possible in terms of bonuses, within limits that OLG is comfortable with,” said Pridmore. “We’re balancing out a few different areas where we want to make sure we’re getting the right offers from a client and a return to the government perspective. “