Lisa Cheban | 13 September, 2023 11:49 | Last update on: 13 September, 2023 11:49
bet365 and Woodbine Entertainment Group have announced a collaboration to launch horse racing betting services in Ontario, Canada, for the first time. Until now, the legal structure in the Canadian province prevented bookmakers from offering racebook services.
On Wednesday, August 16, 2023, Jim Lawson, CEO of Woodbine Entertainment, revealed that bet365 now accepts wagers from Ontario residents on horse races. This includes Sunday’s King’s Plate Stakes in Toronto.
The announcement has long been in the works for more than a year. During this time, Woodbine Entertainment has positioned itself as the go-to pari-mutuel back-end provider for Ontario’s legal sports betting businesses.
Following Wednesday’s announcement, Woodbine has gained access to Canada’s sole competitive online casino and sports betting market. This fast-expanding iGaming market was launched in April 2022, generating billions of dollars since then.
“Worldwide, horse racing is about 8% of all sports betting, and we see that potential in Ontario and it’s in new customers. It’s not our core customers, it’s the new younger sports betting customer which is the exact demographic that we’re looking for. So, it’s huge for the horse racing industry to sustain itself in this province,” Lawson commented.
Canada’s current legal betting structures don’t allow regulated bookmakers to accept bets in horse races. Only Woodbine could do that, although the company left Ontario’s sports betting scene after facing multiple challenges.
As a result of Woodbine’s absence in the province, Ontarians could only place horse racing bets at the track or off-track betting locations. This service is also available on two online betting sites operated by Woodbine, HPIbet and Dark Horse Bets. But when horse racing fell under provincial regulation, operators like bet365 removed it from their wagering menus.
Before legal single-event betting became a reality in Canada, Woodbine successfully lobbied to exclude horse racing from the legislation. But Lawson claimed that the entertainment company still wants sports betting providers to offer horse racing bets, although in collaboration with Woodbine.
While online bettors in Ontario can now access horse racing bets on bet365, the bets will be processed behind the scenes by Woodbine Entertainment. As expected, the horse-racing industry will receive its fair share of the betting handles. On Thursday last week, bet365 Ontario already had horse racing odds available with the banner “Operated by Woodbine Entertainment Group.”
The pari-mutuel betting system involves pooling bets. The payout odds for this bet type are determined by dividing the pool among all winning bets after subtracting the house edge. This system is essential in reducing the cost of owning, running, and presenting odds in horse racing events.