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Sports betting: BCE embraces gambling with FanDuel-TSN partnership

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·3 min read
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Sports gambling industry observers have long speculated about how Canada’s largest media companies would embrace betting. Ontario opened its sports betting market to private competition on Monday. REUTERS/Chris Wattie
Sports gambling industry observers have long speculated about how Canada’s largest media companies would embrace betting. Ontario opened its sports betting market to private competition on Monday. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Canadian telecom and media giant BCE (BCE.TO)(BCE) has inked a deal to enhance its TSN sports network with betting-focused content through a multi-year agreement with FanDuel Group, a company owned by Ireland-based Flutter Entertainment (FLTR.L).

The announcement on Monday comes as Ontario opens its online sports betting market to private competition, a first in Canada that's drawn business interest from major players from the global gaming industry. FanDuel is among the companies that started accepting wagers in the province on April 4.

TSN and FanDuel describe the deal as a "first-of-its-kind," as the sports network looks to introduce its audience to newly-legal bets on individual games and events.

"Combining their sportsbook with our expansive portfolio of live sports properties will not only deliver the exciting content that our passionate fan base demands but will provide new opportunities to expand the TSN brand," TSN senior vice-president Stewart Johnston stated in a news release.

The deal will see FanDuel become TSN's official sportsbook partner across Canada, providing sports odds and original content across the network's television and digital assets. The companies say this will include in-game broadcasts, digital marketing, mobile apps and co-branding opportunities.

"Partnering with Canada's most iconic and trusted media company was integral to our strategy of delivering gaming content to passionate Canadian sports fans in the most entertaining and responsible way possible," Dale Hooper, general manager of FanDuel Canada added in the release.

Will Rogers announce a sports betting deal?

Sports gambling industry observers have long speculated about how Canada's largest media companies would embrace betting. Both BCE and rival Rogers Communications (RCI-B.TO)(RCI) expressed support for Bill C-218 as it worked its way through parliament, and received royal assent in July. The legislation amended the criminal code to allow wagers in individual events, bringing Canada closer in line with the sports betting industry that has boomed in the United States since 2018.

In addition to its media assets, Rogers owns Toronto's major league baseball team, and a 37.5 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, and Toronto Argonauts football team.

The Canadian arm of Australia's PointsBet Holdings (PBH.AX) appointed a former Rogers executive as its CEO in July. Scott Vanderwel helped Rogers secure the rights to broadcast NHL games across Canada in a $5.2 billion deal in 2013.

"I believe there are a number of assets in this category where there is an opportunity to create a relationship and engage the Canadian fans," Vanderwel told Yahoo Finance Canada in September. "Obviously Rogers and Bell are core media assets, an important component to anybody thinking about this space."

Toronto-listed BCE shares fell 0.61 per cent to $69.80 as at 12:30 p.m. ET. on Monday.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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