Coolbet Ontario surprised members in March 2023 when they announced they were planning to pull out of the online gaming market. With so many dedicated sports fans across the province, ON seemed like the ideal province to launch a betting site and mobile app. This news had people wondering why the popular gaming site closed operations in such a populous province.
Sports gambling has been legal in Ontario for over a year. In that time, the gambling industry earned over $21.6 billion. The market has demand, but it's also an intensely competitive environment. If a sports betting site doesn't launch with a solid marketing plan, they are going to drown in a sea full of competition. That's exactly what happened to Coolbet ON.
Sports betting sites allow people to place bets once the event is listed. Many serious sports fans will place bets months in advance with odds set for anticipated events. So, what does this news mean for gamblers that already had put money into future betting lines?
In March it was announced that all deposit options would close on the 21st. Any bets that were placed for events after March 22 would be voided and refunded back to the customer. This includes futures placed for later in the year or anticipated events in 2024, like Super Bowl LVIII.
Some bettors were upset about the outcome result because they had placed futures with set odds.
Customers didn't have to worry about losing their remaining balance. Prior to closing, Coolbet encouraged all ON members to withdraw their remaining funds as soon as possible. If a customer hadn't previously requested a withdrawal, they were instructed to verify their bank account to get their refund before the casino site officially closed. The gaming site provided further instructions to help customers get their money back.
Before the site's early April exit, it also waived wagering requirements on promos, allowing customers to withdraw remaining bonuses. All money and promos that weren't used by early April were returned to the customer's bank account.
On April 3rd, 2023, Coolbet officially shut down its website and mobile app and left the Ontario online gaming market. Coolbet remains open to gamblers in other Canadian provinces.
It all comes down to the money. There is a high demand for sports gambling in ON. That being said, there are more betting sites than the demand has called for. There are currently 46 legal sports betting sites open to ON gamblers. Some of these online sportsbook operators are leaders in the market throughout North America, like Pointsbet and Draftkings. It's difficult for new and small operators to compete with them.
Despite Coolbet having a good reputation among betters in Canada, the service wasn't bringing in enough of a profit to make renewing its gambling license worth it. Operating an online sportsbook has a lot of expenses. There is an annual regulatory fee of $100,000. On top of that, operators are also responsible for paying approximately 20% of their revenue back to the province.
Gaming technology provider GAN explained that the operator is focused on maximizing its profits. Unfortunately, Ontario was not the right market for them. Even with changes to the operator's promotional methods, they could not see a profitable path in the near future. They decided the best move for the brand was to focus on promoting its services in other markets.
Coolbet's exit may have been the first such operator to leave this market, but could other gaming operations follow its lead? Currently, there isn't any word released to the public of other gaming sites leaving Ontario. Right now we see the oposite where more betting companies launch their services in Canada.
Amanda Brewer, manager of Kindred Group in ON, has shed some light on why more gambling operators could close their services. Not only is this a costly industry but it can go wrong for any operator that doesn't have a strong market presence going into business.
The Kindred Group is responsible for managing Unibet ON. Unibet has been one of the leading sportsbooks globally. Before the company launched in ON, they already had a great reputation in other parts of Canada, the US, and the UK (among other countries). This brand's strong presence in the casino industry gave them an edge over lesser-known operators when launching in Ontario.
Some experts in the field have other thoughts about the situation. Dale Hooper is the general manager of FanDuel Canada. He believes that competition is good for the market. Every gambler has different expectations. So when there is more competition, they know they have options to find a gambling company best suited for them. While it will be more challenging for sportsbook operators to stay ahead of the competition, it also challenges them to be sharper with their marketing techniques.
The news of Coolbet's exit came as a shock to a lot of bettors. It's not a surprise that they're questioning the position of their favourite small gaming operations. However, it's doubtful that unknown outcomes will put a stop to sports betting in Ontario, Canada.
Ontario players find a lot of entertainment from using sportsbooks and casino sites. Hooper and others in the casino field believe these operators could bring a lot of entertainment to Ontario players as long as they continue to use innovative methods.
I work with the CasinoGrizzly editorial team as a researcher and editor. My main area of interest is casino games and finding those with the best payout rates. I studied Maths at university, which is why I have a keen interest ... Read more about the author