Upcoming Match-ups

FanDuel, PointsBet Get Creative Ahead of Ontario Sports Betting Launch

Robert Duff

by Robert Duff in Sports Betting News

Jan 26, 2022 · 11:39 AM PST

fanduel pointsbet ottawa senators
Jan 23, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom (26) celebrates with the bench after a second period goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
  • American online sportsbooks FanDuel and PointsBet are prepping for Canadian market
  • Executives from both companies participated in iGaming conference at Western University
  • Each outlined views on how they expect Canadian sports betting landscape to unfold

Top executives from leading online sportsbooks FanDuel and PointsBet were outlining their thoughts and strategies for the Canada sports betting market during a recent iGaming conference at Western University in London, Ontario. PointsBet Canada Chief Commercial Officer Nic Sulsky and FanDuel growth director Conor Murray were participants in the 60-minute virtual conference.

While both companies have proven to be resounding successes across the border since the licensed, regulated sports betting market launched in the US back in 2018, they emphasized that Canada is a completely different entity. What worked for them in the US market won’t necessarily help them gain a foothold when the Canadian market ultimately opens up to welcome private sportsbook operators.

FanDuel Looking to Shed “U.S. Sportsbook” Tag in Ontario

Murray believes the sports betting operators who will succeed will be those who recognize and understand the unique nuances of the Canadian market. For example, the NHL will be a major driver of online betting revenue in Canada. Likewise, the CFL and even curling will draw percentages of the market. The impact of either of these sports in the US would be negligible.

“One thing is really clear to me, Canada is not the U.S.,” Murray said. “We’ve become the number one sportsbook in the US. Really proud of how we built that business. We’ve written the playbook on launching markets to this point. But we would be so naïve to copy and paste that and bring that to Canada and then expect to win. We have to treat it very differently and we will treat it very differently.”

FanDuel believes that winning people over and turning them into customers is done by emphasizing the fun aspect of sports betting and how it can connect people more intensely to the sport or team they follow. Utilizing their deep bench of quirky promotions, such as the same-game parlay, is one method to make that happen.

“You’re watching the [Toronto] Raptors, you take $5 and put down a same-game parlay, say on [Fred] VanVleet to get four or more three-pointers, Raptors win, and Scottie Barnes over eight rebounds,” Murray said. “All of a sudden, you go from enjoying the game to literally being invested in every individual moment.”

“Our ambition is to add so many more layers of excitement to that game. Fundamentally, we’re about entertainment, when you strip everything back. We look to make sporting moments more entertaining and engaging.”

PointsBet Looking to Think Outside The Box

PointsBet is entering the Canadian market aggressively. They’ve already set up a Canada-specific webpage and offering perks to entice Canadian players to connect with them.

Lacking the budget of major players such as FanDuel or BetMGM, the latter which signed Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky as a brand ambassador, PointsBet is following a different strategy. They recently hired Canadian pop culture icons the Trailer Park Boys to serve as brand ambassadors in the Great White North.

Sulsky indicated that hiring the Trailer Park Boys and having them play hockey in their first TV spot is about “really engaging our Canadianism, really building an authentic connection to what it means to be a Canadian sports fan.”

Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are appearing in TV and online ads promoting PointsBet. A similar deal with the NHL Alumni Association (NHLAA) landed them Hall-of-Famer Paul Coffey and Conn Smythe Trophy-winner Mike Vernon to also participate in promotional spots.

“Let’s face it, PointsBet is a challenger brand,” Sulsky admitted. “We have to outthink folks. We can’t necessarily outspend them.”

Online Ontario Sports Betting is Within Reach for Major Sportsbooks

Uncertainty still surrounds the launch of the Canadian sports betting market. Sometime in the first quarter of 2022 continues to be the date being speculated. Seeing the success they’ve enjoyed since online sports betting launched in New York earlier this month, sports betting operators are especially anxious to see what the Ontario sports betting market, with its population base of 15 million, can generate.

Best Sports Betting Apps Coming To Canada

Sportsbook Apps To Launch In Canada Expected Province Approval Expected Launch Date
FanDuel Sportsbook Canada ON Q1 2022
DraftKings Sportsbook Canada ON Q1 2022
BetMGM Canada ON Q1 2022
Caesars Sportsbook Canada ON Q1 2022
PointsBet Canada ON Q1 2022
HardRock Canada ON Q1 2022
theScore Bet Canada (Penn National) ON Q1 2022
BetRivers Canada (RSI) ON Q1 2022

Cracking that lucrative market will require sportsbooks to understand and connect with what makes Canadian sports fans tick.

“Bring hockey up to the level of the other major sports,” Murray predicted as one outcome that will be created within the Ontario market, which houses two NHL teams—the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. “Globally, it’s lagging behind, mostly because there hasn’t been another country that has the appetite Canada does for it. I think it has some ground to make up.”

FanDuel already has a partnership with the NHL and Murray indicated that they would be announcing more Canadian-specific partners in the near future. Along with the NHLAA, PointsBet has also partnered with Curling Canada.

Author Image