A recent study by Betting Hero has discovered that over half of Ontario sports bettors used grey market sportsbooks before sports betting was legal and regulated in the Canadian province.
In response to this finding, Betting Hero President Jai Maw is encouraging US and European sports betting firms entering Ontario to tailor their marketing and retention strategies to “meet the unique needs of the Canadian consumer and regulatory environment”.
A FansUnite company, Betting Hero operates a monthly digital assessment series that “holistically compares sports betting and igaming companies through the lens of the consumer”.
Betting Hero’s latest study examined how Ontario’s grey market – in which bettors used sites not overseen by government authorities – has impacted its legal sports betting sector.
The survey took place between May and June 2022 and featured 115 respondents who were all residents of Ontario, over the age of 19, and frequent sports bettors. 95% of the data was sourced via online surveys/phone interviews and 5% in person at Ontario sports bars. 85% of the respondents were male.
Of the study’s respondents, 51% said they had used a grey market mobile sportsbook before Ontario’s legal launch, with bet365 named as the most used platform at 30%.
38% of all respondents said bet365 was their favorite sports betting app to use, followed by the Ontario Lottery (14%), theScore and FanDuel (11% each), and BetMGM, Unibet, and DraftKings (4% each). 53% of Ontario Lottery sports betting app users were women.
UI/UX experience was listed as the top reason why respondents used their favorite sports betting app at 58%, followed by strong brand name and customer service at 15%, and better odds and additional features at 12%.
Only 8% of Ontario bettors cited promotions as the reason for using their favorite sports betting app.
While bet365 is the most popular sportsbook, 25% of respondents did say they would try a new sports betting app due to promotions, which is close to half of the 51% of respondents in New Jersey and 49% of bettors in New York who said the same.
Payments were also revealed as the most significant issue for customers in the Ontario market, as 31% cited funding issues and slow withdrawal times as their biggest betting experience hindrance, compared to just 13% of New York bettors with the same payment issue.
Commenting on the findings, Maw said: “Betting Hero’s latest sports betting and igaming assessment reveals that Ontario is understandably still grappling with its grey market past.
“Sports bettors in Canada have noticeably different betting behaviors than their American counterparts. They’re less attracted to, and in many cases less aware of, available promotions and are seemingly more loyal to their preferred sportsbook.
“Unfortunately for new entrants to Ontario’s emerging legal sports betting market, that loyalty seems to be heavily weighted in favor of companies previously operating in Ontario’s grey market.
“Legacy US and European sports betting companies entering Ontario could greatly benefit from tailoring their marketing and retention strategies to meet the unique needs of the Canadian consumer and regulatory environment.”
The survey also discovered that NFL was the favorite league for Ontario sports bettors to wager on at 61%, followed by the NBA with 57%, and the NHL with 44%. This mirrors New Jersey bettors, who wager on the same sports at rates of 94%, 74%, and 50%, respectively.
53% of respondents said they don’t play online casino, while 34% said they play table games, 18% say they play slots, and 14% say they play video poker. 31% of women respondents said they played slots.
Earlier this week, iGaming Ontario released the financial figures for the first three months of the Canadian province’s sports betting and igaming market, declaring a slow start of only $124m in revenue.