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For Ontario Sports Bettors, A Whole New World Awaits

David Caraviello for Bookies.com

David Caraviello  | 4 mins

For Ontario Sports Bettors, A Whole New World Awaits

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Historically, sports betting in Canada hasn’t exactly been an exhilarating experience: Bettors could choose only hard-to-win parlay wagers offered though provincial lottery corporations, and inserted a punch card at a kiosk. But now that Canada has legalized single-game sports betting and Ontario has opened its market to commercial sportsbook operators, a whole new world awaits.

Canada’s federal government last year legalized single-game betting, after which Ontario began licensing online platforms that include the Canadian operations of some of the industry’s biggest names. It all led to Monday, when commercial and mobile sports betting launched in Canada’s most populous province, opening an entire range of wagering options to bettors who were at last welcomed into sports betting’s modern age.

“I think people are just going to be excited about the opportunity to learn about betting, to have all these different sportsbooks where they can they can sign up for those apps. And I think people are really going to be excited about the end-game betting opportunities—you know, the opportunity to go to a bar with your friends and watch a Maple Leafs game on a Saturday night and be able to place bets on Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews and their favorite NHL players,” said Steve McAllister, president of Sports Media Canada and editor-in-chief of The Parleh, an online Canadian sports outlet.

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“You know, we have the Masters coming up (this) week, and you’ll have people getting together at someone's house watching the Masters on Sunday afternoon and being able to make bets during the final round of that golf tournament,” McAllister added in an interview with Jasmine McKoy of Bookies.com. “So I think there's just going to be a lot of a lot of interest.”

How Sports Betting In Canada May Be Different

Indeed, anticipation has been high for the launch of sports betting in Ontario. The Canadian divisions of many popular online sportsbooks and betting apps have worked hard to give their platforms a distinctly Canadian feel, trying to mirror what bettors in Ontario are most looking for. They’ve also tried to entrench themselves in the Great White North by striking partnerships with distinctly Canadian organizations, as PointsBet Ontario has done in signing deals with the nation’s sanctioning bodies for curling and ski racing, as well as the Ottawa Redblacks of the Canadian Football League.

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That effort is reflected in the sportsbook advertising McAllister saw in Ontario in the run-up to Monday’s launch. “It isn't just around bonuses,” he said, “and it's forcing the sportsbooks to be a little bit creative in how they market their products.”

And even though Canadian sports bettors have close ties with their brethren in the United States, McAllister believes that the sportsbooks that thrive in Canada will be the ones that recognize the differences.

“The Canadian sports fan is truly unique. The (Toronto) Blue Jays play in Major League Baseball and the Toronto Raptors are Canada's only NBA team. But Canada is a very diverse country, and there is a rabid, rabid base of cricket fans. We have a big base of rugby fans in this country. Women's sports are top of mind, and increasingly so with Canadian sports fans. And then you know, our men's soccer team just qualified for the World Cup, and we already have this base of soccer fans,” he said.

“In the past, if you lived in the Little Italy part of Toronto or Montreal, you're waving Italian flags during the World Cup. Or, there's a Portuguese community in many Canadian cities. Well now, Canadians for the first time since 1986 are not only going to be able to cheer for Canada in the World Cup, but they can actually place a bet on the Canadian team. So I think the sportsbooks that recognize and enact on that unique sports fan are the ones that are going to get a leg up on the competition.”

Which Sportsbooks Have Ontario Licenses?

In the days prior to Monday’s launch, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario had approved 25 entities for gaming operations licenses. That number included a number of brands familiar to bettors in the U.S., including Caesars Sportsbook, BetMGM ON, FanDuel, PointsBet, Unibet and BetRivers, in addition to theScore, a well-known Canadian operator.

Other operators approved by AGCO in the days prior to launch included LottoGo, Coolbet, Fitzdares, LeoVegas, WSOP, Rivalry, Royal Panda, 888, the Ontario Lottery Commission, and eight separate platforms such as Hello Casino and Jackpot Village operated by the parent company White Hat Gaming Limited. Other commercial operators are expected to be added around the Ontario launch date, or shortly thereafter.

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About the Author

David Caraviello for Bookies.com
David Caraviello
Veteran sports journalist David Caraviello has covered college football, college basketball, motorsports and golf, covering all three US golf majors, the Daytona 500 and SEC football.