The deal will grant PointsBet exclusive marketing rights for both sports betting and online casino games across all of Curling Canada’s broadcast and digital properties. PointsBet will become the title sponsor of the governing body’s Season of Champions event, and the betting company will be able to use Curling Canada’s logos in its advertising.
The deal will give PointsBet’s young Canadian operation an opportunity to reach a large swath of the population, according to Nic Sulsky, PointsBet Canada’s CCO. More than 13 million people watch Curling Canada’s events each year, meaning the group’s games reach about 35% of the country’s population.
“Could you think a sport like that in the U.S.—that’s watched by nearly 35% of the population—that an operator like us would be able to grab exclusive access to?” Sulsky said in an interview. “Curling is watched by nearly 35% of the Canadian population, and yet it’s relatively nascent to the gaming space.”
In June the Canadian government passed a law permitting provinces to legalize single-game sporting events, with Ontario expected to go live by the end of the year. Canada has a population of 38 million, roughly the size of California, and a recent PwC study concluded that Canadian sports betting would be in the $1.25 to $2 billion range within two years of legalization.
Outside sports betting operators have moved quickly to establish a presence in Canada, with PointsBet among those making the biggest splash. The Australian bookmaker hired a group of executives to lead its new Canadian division, which expects to have a team of 40-50 people in the country by the end of the year. Last month PointsBet Canada announced its first major deal, a partnership with hockey-centric media company Daily Faceoff.
Partnerships like this curling deal show the extent to which gambling operators are quickly divvying up the sports world as they seek exclusive rights to sports, big and small. Smaller sports like curling are seeing new financial opportunities, plus the chance to reach new audiences, through partnerships with sportsbooks. During the pandemic, for example, professional table tennis saw a surge in interest driven largely by bettors looking for action while larger leagues were dark.
“With the passing of legalized sports betting by the federal government this past summer, we knew that there would be many opportunities available for our sport to be part of a new, legal and regulated way for fans to enjoy our events,” Curling Canada CEO Katherine Henderson said in a statement.
PointsBet launched its Canada division earlier this year, hoping to differentiate itself by creating a uniquely Canadian version of its product, driven by a large team on the ground. Sulsky was the group’s first hire back in June and he said his very first call was to Curling Canada.
“None of us have been shy about our excitement about becoming as authentically Canadian as possible,” he said. “And if you’re going to talk that talk, you want to get your brooms on the ice as quickly as possible.”