Pinnacle obtains first North American license in Ontario

Pinnacle Sports Ontario
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The lines are cited often by Americans, but up until this week, Pinnacle Sports had no license to operate on the continent. Now, the online sportsbook is one step closer to launching in Ontario as a regulated operator. Pinnacle has long done business as a gray operator, but is one of several taking the steps to go fully regulated in the Canadian province.

Pinnacle now licensed in three markets

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) listed Pinnacle as a recipient of an operator license effective Sept. 7 on its website. The license will be valid until the same time in 2024.

The gray market rules in Ontario forgive and forget a company’s past behavior in the marketplace, opening the doors for Pinnacle to go regulated. Ontario now joins Malta and Curacao on the list of countries where the company is regulated. Ontario is the first new jurisdiction where the company has received a license since 2015 when it received Maltese approval.

Pinnacle Sports previously sought licensure in Great Britain in 2018. However, after submitting the paperwork for the license, the company withdrew its application after months of being under review by the gaming commission with no progress.

Is a Pinnacle return to the US on the horizon?

Pinnacle used to operate in both the British and American markets before pulling out over regulatory concerns. Pinnacle exited the UK in 2014 pending new laws regarding gambling taxation.

The company left the US all the way back in 2007 in the wake of the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). While several major poker and sports betting operators like Bodog continued to accept US-facing customers after UIGEA’s passage, Pinnacle Sports exited the market and never looked back.

However, depending on how the launch in Ontario goes, perhaps this is the first step towards the sportsbook returning to North America. Given the fact that Pinnacle exited long before other operators that have returned to several regulated markets, such as PokerStars, there seems to be potential for states to consider Pinnacle as a licensee.