'I'm not in Detroit': Sports fan says new iGaming market is hard to use in Windsor

Ontario's new iGaming market is causing headaches in downtown Windsor.

iGaming Ontario launched its new legal sports betting market in April

Sports better Bobby Russon says he has to hunt for a spot in downtown Windsor, just across the river from Detroit, where sports betting apps will allow him to bet because the apps suspect he may not be in Ontario. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

It's billed as a safer way to do sports betting, but Ontario's new iGaming market is causing headaches for at least one Windsorite who says the apps seem to think he's in Michigan.

Bobby Russon says his downtown office is just steps away from the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel, in view of the Detroit skyline. But when it comes to using iGaming, he often has to leave the building and take a walk.

"It sucks. It makes no sense," Bobby Russon said of the app thinking he's not in Ontario.

"It's spotty. Sometimes it will ask you to recheck your location and then you lose your bet sheet and then you have to start it all over again."

The province launched iGaming Ontario (IGO) in April, which regulated online gaming sites. The sites that signed up now pay taxes in exchange for being allowed legal access to the Ontario market.

Russon says he often gets a pop-up message when he's trying to place a bet. While demonstrating to CBC News, he tried to bet on an NBA game.

"You are only able to legally place online wagers while located within the province of Ontario," said a message from betting app FanDuel.

"Once you are in Ontario, please try again." 

He tried again with DraftKings, which said he had to make sure he was "well within the permitted area."

"Your location data indicates you are near a permitted area," it said.

Seeking a bet

3 months ago
Duration 1:10
Sports better Bobby Russon hunts for a spot in downtown Windsor to place a bet.

"Sometimes information arrives late about an injury or something and you have a minute or two to get that bet down before the lines move," Russon said. "If you take it seriously, those seconds matter.

"I don't have time at my office in the middle of the day to go do that."

In a written response to CBC News, Bell spokesperson Jessica Bezinger said that cellular signals can sometimes be stronger over a body of water.

"From time to time, people in our border communities may pick up a U.S. cellular signal," Bezinger wrote.

She said Bell is also reaching out to Russon to attempt resolve the issue.

'I'm clearly on a Canadian tower'

Russon says he's made sports wagers online for years. He says DraftKings and FanDuel are actually harder to use now that they're available in Ontario.

"I'm clearly on a Canadian [cell] tower," Russon said. "If I sent you a pin of my location, I could text it to you and it would show me as right here — like, I'm not in Detroit." 

During the interview, Russon was eventually able to place a bet, but only after walking a few blocks away from his office and restarting his phone.

The pop-up telling Russon he can't bet on the DraftKings app tells him he is "near a permitted area". (Submitted by Bobby Russon)

"We're talking about the difference of 500 metres," he said. "It just doesn't make any sense whatsoever."

Russon says some sites have said they're working on the problem, but iGaming Ontario hasn't responded to him.

What iGaming has to say

For its part, iGaming Ontario told CBC News that it can't comment on issues people may be having with "regulated operator websites."

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) has its own app in the regulated marketplace, called Proline+. 

OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti says there have been issues geo-locating people using satellite-based internet connections in rural areas, but they haven't had any complaints from people close to the border. 

Based on past experience, he suggested reaching out to Internet providers, such as Bell, Rogers or Cogeco if you are experiencing issues with geo-location.

CBC also contacted FanDuel and DraftKings, as well as Telus. DraftKings said they will follow up with Russon to try to help. 


Jacob Barker


Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.