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iGaming business owner bet on himself, lives fantasy sports dream

'I don’t think anyone thought I could do it, so it feels good to be in this spot now,' says Barrie man who has forged his own path in new gaming world

When sports betting in Ontario opened up on April 4 of this year, Mitch Dobney was finally able to turn his long-time passion into a full-time dream job.

The new iGaming industry allows people in Ontario to wager on casino games, sporting events and other gambling activities through online websites and smartphone apps from operators registered to run activities in the provincially regulated market.

Dobney, who has lived in Barrie most of his life, gambled on himself and jumped right in.

“I had heard about a company in Las Vegas where the people involved were making a living at this. I reached out to them and started helping out where I could,” said Dobney. “It was very cool.”

Dobney is a self-professed sports nut and offered free services to get his foot in the door.

The work and effort eventually led him to being asked to come down to Sin City and act as their full-time trader.

“Essentially, what it looks like is kind of what day traders are doing with stock, but with sports," Dobney explained. "I have a ton of screens here in front of me and let's say Tom Brady falls down the stairs and breaks his foot, the lines are obviously going to change because that would affect the probability of the Buccaneers winning. The goal is to scoop up all the prices before it changes.”

Dobney ended up living in Vegas for a few months at the start of this year, which would have seemed like a sports lover's dream.

“It was fun, I had been there before for a trip. It is fun to visit, I wasn’t big on living there though,” said Dobney. “I was definitely missing friends and family and to be honest, living there is very different from what you see in the movies.”

While there, Dobney met another Canadian who was working with the team and the two sparked up a friendship. That eventually led to the creation of MT Trading, named after Mitch and his business partner, Tyrus.

“Tyrus is out in B.C. and I’m here in Barrie so it really helps as I jump on to watch the action early morning and part of the afternoon and with the three-hour time difference, he takes what could be called the late shift,” said Dobney. 

Dobney spent seven years at The Fan Cave, the popular sports merchandise store last located in the Bayfield Mall, before it closed in January 2020.

It was there the now 29-year-old would share his thoughts of wanting to get involved with the world of online sports.

“I used to tell everyone there was a way to make money this way and I was going to somehow make money off of online sports,” said Dobney. “I don’t think anyone thought I could do it, so it feels good to be in this spot now.”

Back in April, popular online gaming operator FanDuel signed a multi-year deal with broadcaster TSN. 

FanDuel began integrating with TSN across platforms, including in-game broadcast, digital marketing, mobile apps and co-branding opportunities.The industry is now regulated and the Ontario government is expected to generate about $800 million in gross revenue this year.

Dobney and his partner went out on their own for a few reasons, but one had to do with getting limited in different sports books.

“It's a major hurdle. One very large company we bet with sent us an email after a few months saying we were no longer allowed to bet there and were limited to a dollar, which essentially stops you from betting,” said Dobney. “I totally understand when there is a gambling addiction but not when it is because you’re doing well.”

MT Trading currently only bets the money of the two owners, but Dobney says one day they hope to expand to a brick and mortar location with staff, helping others bet.

When asked why he went into the business with someone else instead of his own, Dobney said it's best that way for his mental health.

“The highs are high, but the lows are low and it's good to have someone to bounce both sides off of,” said Dobney. “This is a new industry here in Ontario and Canada, so it's unlikely your friends or spouse will know how to talk about it. Me and Tyrus are able to talk to each other every day and not only strategize, but give advice on a good or bad day.”

Dobney said that he and his partner have never had a losing month since they started in March, but on their worst day, they lost $30,000. However, on their best day, they won about the same amount.

“That's nothing compared to the Vegas people having $3 million at risk on a Saturday, which is the biggest betting day,” said Dobney.

Having run a friendly football pool for several years, one would think Dobney would be top of the heap in the Fan Cave Fantasy Football League.

“Yeah, not so much. I get teased by the group a bit for how I’m doing,” said Dobney. “Admittedly, after staring at stats and screens all day, its tough to get into something like that because I need some downtime. I am going to have to do better for sure, though.”