Leadstar Media delves into Canadian legislative updates

Canada flag
Image: Shutterstock

Leadstar Media’s North American team lead Patrick Corkery sits down with SBC Americas to discuss the state of the Canadian gaming industry. After the Ontario Superior Court ruled that iGaming Ontario’s regulated market does not break the Criminal Code and legislative developments in Alberta, Canada is coming to the fore of the industry’s minds. 

Corkery discusses potential ramification of Alberta opening up a regulated market and discusses the affiliate company’s strategy for Canada. 

SBC Americas: The Ontario market’s immediate future has been secured after the Kahnawake’s case was dismissed. How big a development is this for Leadstar Media and your operations in the province?

Patrick Corkery
Image: Leadstar Media

Patrick Corkery: It’s a very significant development for all affiliates, not just in Ontario but all of Canada. One would imagine that the precedent is now set for other provinces to follow in Ontario’s footsteps. Given how big that province has been for Canadian operations over the past two years, it represents a big win.

SBC: How significant is the Ontario market to Leadstar Media and how fruitful has it been since launching in April 22?

PC: It’s an extremely significant market for us now, and moving forward. It’s no secret that there was a gold rush at the launch of regulation, but even now we see consistent traffic from Ontario across all of our Canadian products.

SBC: How difficult is it to operate as an affiliate in the regulated market of Ontario given the regulations do not allow for bonus or inducements? How do you attract players to your platform and your operator partners sites despite this tight regulation?

PC: It of course does make player conversion a bit more difficult than in other markets, but one also has to see an opportunity to provide deeper insight into our partner operators instead of just flashing big bonus figures at the user. We’ve attempted to deepen our coverage of the brands to offer even better answers to user queries than before. 

At MyBettingSites Canada, great strides have been made on this front to improve the depth of our sportsbook reviews. In this way, we provide the user with a deep understanding of the betting features, UX, and many other elements of a sports betting platform, outside of just the bonus. So yes, it is a challenge, but every challenge also provides an opportunity to develop our products.

SBC: What are your thoughts on wider marketing regulation in Ontario such as the ban on the use of sports stars or celebrities in operators’ marketing material? Is it making marketing too difficult?

PC: Of course, it is a big challenge for our partners. In the UK, Bet365 is so heavily associated with the TV ads featuring Ray Winstone, and in the US BetMGM is synonymous with celebrities like Jaime Foxx. This is where affiliate marketing becomes crucial for operators. The role we can play in helping them shape their brand identity goes up a level in situations such as this. 

Plus, at the end of the day, the regulator’s job is to protect the players. We understand and fully support that goal, so marketing restrictions on celebrities or bonuses are just things we have to contend with. We all want a safe and responsible gambling environment.

SBC: Alberta has recently passed a bill which could pave the way for a similar model – how exciting is the prospect of another province opening up for Leadstar Media?

PC: It’s incredibly exciting. Ontario has become a very important market for us and regulation is proven to help grow player bases, even if it also comes with challenges. Plus with the recent victory for Ontario regulation in court, it feels like the stage is set for more provinces to follow.

SBC: Would you have plans to launch a regulated site in Alberta should a market open up?

PC: We, of course, will always strive to provide the best answers to Canadian players’ questions. If Alberta does follow suit, I’m sure we will make an effort to give the players in that province a great product, just like we have in Ontario. 

SBC: How does the population and player base of Alberta differ to Ontario and how would that impact your content offering?

PC: Of course, there are significant differences. The population is much smaller (roughly a third of Ontario’s population), so that has to have an impact when planning any product launches or content offerings. There are also many cultural differences that come with the territory. For instance, Ontario is much more influenced by American sports than Alberta, where the CFL and NHL are much more popular than the NHL and MLB. 

There is a lot of overlap, but we will always keep the uniqueness of each user in mind when trying to tailor our offerings to a specific geo.

SBC: What plans does Leadstar Media have for your Canadian operations in the next 12 months?

This has a lot to do with legislation, of course. If Alberta does decide to regulate their market, then that will have to take priority, just like Ontario’s regulation did back in 2022. Outside of any developments like that, we want to put even more time and resources into providing deeper and smarter analysis of sports betting sites across the country to strive for our goal of becoming the #1 betting affiliate in Canada.