On Wednesday morning, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced its new partnership with the National Hockey League (NHL), becoming its first sports betting partner in Canada. The multi-year partnership designates OLG’s PROLINE (retail) and PROLINE+ (online) as the official sportsbook products of the NHL. Any hockey fan or even casual observer knows the league’s deep ties in Canada, and this is likely the start of many partnerships with the Great White North.
What Does the Partnership Entail?
OLG will be the official sponsor of the 2022 NHL Heritage Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres in Hamilton, Ontario, to kick off the new partnership with the NHL. That event takes place in just six days, so the timing of this partnership announcement is ideal for both parties. PROLINE+ is the presenting sponsor of the NHL PreGame event at the Heritage Classic.
The partnership between the OLG and NHL is also expected to include co-branded promotions for “sports betting enthusiasts” during some games in the current NHL season as we head towards the postseason. The partnership also grants OLG distribution rights to the NHL’s logo and specific team trademarks for marketing purposes.
Two teams play their home games in Ontario – the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Ottawa Senators – two of Canada’s most popular sports teams. With the strong brand recognition these teams carry, the expectation is that OLG will be able to tap into a strong existing consumer base with its NHL partnership.
Existing NHL Partnerships
The NHL already has several existing partnerships with various sports betting corporations with a strong presence in the United States and globally, including DraftKings, FanDuel, MGM, Betway, Bally’s, PointsBet, and William Hill (Caesars). A handful of those platforms are expected to operate in the Canadian market eventually. Still, in the meantime, the NHL will be partnered with one of the only legal online platforms in the country.
The NHL has also launched responsible gaming initiatives such as the “Have a Game Plan, Bet Responsibly” campaign, aligning with the OLG’s emphasis on these matters. The OLG has a PlaySmart program that has received certification at the World Lottery Association, and there will continue to be a strong emphasis placed on responsible gaming.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 9, 2022
Ontario Sports Betting Launch
On June 22, 2021, Canadian legislators passed C-218, which removed the federal ban on single-game sports betting throughout Canada and allowed provinces to legalize their sports betting market individually. The passing of C-218 is comparable to the United States overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018.
In August 2021, the OLG launched its expanded sports betting product through PROLINE and PROLINE+, giving the corporation a temporary monopoly over Ontario sports betting. On April 4, the regulated iGaming market will launch, and several more platforms are expected to be added to the Ontario market. The first four approved for the Ontario market are PointsBet, theScore, Rivalry Corp., and 888, with at least 30 total applicants for licenses.
OLG could experience some challenges in retaining its existing customer base once major United States operators such as FanDuel and DraftKings join the Ontario market. Still, with about 15 million people, Ontario has a larger potential consumer base than some established US markets such as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Ontario would be the fifth-largest state in the US by population.
For more information including legal updates and promotional offers for new customers, visit our Ontario sports betting page.