Entain initially said Sports Interaction would not enter Ontario's regulated market but may be reconsidering

Entain’s Brands Bwin And Party Have Launched In Ontario

Ontario’s new online gambling market launched just over a week ago. Today, it got its first new brands added since opening day.

12 operators ended up going live on that first day, plus the pre-existing lottery site, OLG.ca. 

However, a total of 28 brands have received their approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). What that means is fairly obvious: More launches are coming soon. Today’s arrivals are the Party brands (poker, casino and sports), plus Bwin.

Getting authorization to start taking bets in Ontario is a two-step process. Would-be Ontario online casino operators have to get approval from the AGCO first. However, they also need to sign an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario (iGO).

The latter organization is responsible for “conducting and managing” private sector online gambling in the province. Its list of approved operators includes the sites of the 12 who went live on launch day, plus the following, added today:

  • Party Casino
  • Partypoker
  • Party Sports
  • Bwin

Correction: This article initially stated the launch was “coming soon,” but it has in fact happened.

The Entain brands

All of these brands are registered to Electraworks Maple Limited, a subsidiary of Entain.

Entain was already in the market, through its joint venture BetMGM. That brand leads the market in the US, but it’s too early to tell how it will fare in Ontario. It gets its name from the other party to the joint venture, MGM Resorts International.

On the other hand, these new brands launching in Ontario aren’t a major force in the US. Both operate as bit players in the New Jersey online casino market, but haven’t expanded to other states. That’s because Entain has prioritized the BetMGM brand south of the border. Indeed, the most likely way for US online gamblers outside of New Jersey to have experienced their products is in the form of BetMGM Poker, which uses Partypoker software courtesy of Entain.

Internationally, though, they’ve been around for a while and have a relationship that predates their acquisition by Entain. In 2011, PartyGaming plc and bwin Interactive Entertainment AG merged to form Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment. Four years later they were bought by Entain (still known as GVC at that time) after a bidding war with 888 Holdings, another company now operating in Ontario.

Both companies are offering casino and sports betting, though Bwin is more of a sports-first company with its roots in the UK’s football (soccer) betting space). Party has also brought its Partypoker product to the market, though how it will fare in the absence of shared liquidity is anyone’s guess. Among New Jersey online poker sites, it is the third-place operator, behind PokerStars and WSOP. (Poker is also available through the Bwin site, but it is simply an alternate skin for Partypoker).

And what about Sports Interaction?

Entain has one more brand operating in Canada too. It acquired Sports Interaction, licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), not long before the Ontario market opened.

At the time, Entain said that it would pull that brand out of Ontario. It wanted to keep its status with the KGC, and felt a potential First Nations challenge to the Ontario market could create a conflict if it pursued authorization in Ontario as well.

However, Online Poker Report has heard that Entain may be reconsidering this decision. To date, Sports Interaction does not have authorization from either AGCO or iGO, and its site is blocked for residents of Ontario. We’ll keep you abreast of the situation if that changes.

- Alex is a journalist from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now site runner for Online Poker Report, he has been writing about poker and the online gambling industry in various capacities since 2014.
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