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Now that Canada has reformed sports betting, some companies are looking to take advantage of new sports betting opportunities. TorStar, the company that publishes the Toronto Star is getting into the sports betting game. It’s releasing an online casino and sportsbook in Ontario when the province begins granting sports betting licenses. In conjunction with that sportsbook and online casino, TorStar is launching AFK, a media service targeting Gen Z. It’s all to draw Gen Z readers into TarStar’s media ecosystem. This move includes many moving parts, but they’re all part of a clever strategy.

What TorStar Normally Does

TorStar publishes the Toronto Star, a center-left publication in Canada. But like all newspaper companies, it’s faced a new challenge in the internet age. Paper newspapers used to sell well. They made up a significant portion of a paper’s revenue, which could pay for investigative journalists and thoughtful articles. Today, many news companies are scrounging for clicks, sometimes forcing writers to write three short articles a day just to push Google ranks and draw ad revenue. Every major news company is looking for sources of new revenue. TorStar’s solution is an online casino and sportsbook.

Why An Online Casino And Sportsbook Can Work In Ontario

After Canada passed Bill C-218, Canadian sportsbooks could offer single-event sports betting. Right now, that only includes government-owned sportsbooks. However, Ontario is getting ready to pass gaming regulations that would allow private sports betting companies to operate. It’ll look more like a competitive U.S. state, like Michigan or Pennsylvania. It also presents an opportunity for any company that can put a gaming company together to get into the new sports betting industry early.

Ontario is also expected to be Canada’s sports betting powerhouse. It could make up almost half of Canada’s sports betting market. For a non-gaming company like TorStar, a foothold in Ontario could generate enough revenue to cover budget shortfalls.

However, TorStar’s iGaming company would be going up against some of the largest names in sports betting. theScore, DraftKings, and FanDuel are also eying Ontario. Those companies come with operational teams who know how to attract and retain customers. That’s a kind of specialization that will not only guarantee their success. It will also ice smaller sportsbook companies out. TorStar may find that it’s too busy competing with big names to generate meaningful revenue. It’s an ambitious gamble for them to make, but it could pay off if it works.

What The AFK Gen Z Product Is

The sportsbook is one new product that TorStar plans to launch toward the end of the year. But the AFK Gen Z product is a new media product that the sportsbook will help fund.

Gen Z is the elusive target of many media companies. Gen Z consumers are digital natives, so they’re not buying paper subscriptions. They also don’t tolerate calculated and insincere marketing messages. Gen Z wants to know where their companies stand on political issues and demand transparency about companies’ social impact. If Gen Zers don’t like what they see, they don’t mind taking their business elsewhere. So, marketing to this customer segment is critical for media companies that want to remain relevant.

AFK is a proposed video news service that will be delivered through YouTube. It’ll focus on esports and gaming content to engage the young male demographic that TorStar’s partner brings to the table. This will be another arm of TorStar’s news empire that will hopefully be profitable enough on its own. But TorStar’s sportsbook venture may have to fund this as well if AFK underperforms.

What To Watch For

TorStar is jumping on a new opportunity that’s presented itself in Canada. With sports betting reform passed and Ontario’s sports betting regulations on the way, private companies will be able to apply for sports betting licenses. TorStar will launch a sportsbook and online casino to capitalize on that new industry.

However, that strategy may backfire. Major sportsbook brands who intend to capture large swaths of the market are going to come to Ontario, too. TorStar’s sportsbook may not be able to compete against industry giants like DraftKings, FanDuel, or theScore. A loss on the sportsbook could create new problems for TorStar. As much as it hopes to ride Ontario’s sports betting wave to secure funding, it may not turn out to be the dream plan that TorStar and its partners believe it to be.

About the Author
Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher

Writer and Contributor
Christopher Gerlacher is a Senior Writer and contributor for Gaming Today. He is a versatile and experienced writer with an impressive portfolio who has range from political and legislative pieces to sports and sports betting. He's a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, Colorado.

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