CFL Sees Single-Sports Betting As A Game Changer In Canada
Bob Duff | 4 mins
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Among all the Canadian organizations that welcomed the arrival of the legalization of single-game sports betting in Canada, none were more excited than the movers and shakers of the Canadian Football League.
The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the entire 2020 CFL season, costing the nine-team league millions of dollars. CFL operators believe that the advent of sports betting will enable them to recoup some of those losses.
CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie described the moment as a “once in a generation opportunity for revenue enhancement."
He added: "This may be one of the single biggest opportunities that the Canadian Football League has ever faced and it couldn’t happen at a better time.”
“We’ve gone through a very challenging environment with the COVID pandemic,” Ambrosie said. “We see this as a recipe for a quicker recovery as we come out of it.”
CFL Eyes Seven-Figure Revenue
Edmonton Elks president & CEO Chris Presson called single-game sports betting, which is now legal in Ontario, British Columbia and other Canadian provinces, a game changer for the CFL.
"It not only generates dollars but also creates greater fan engagement and more interest from the casual fan,” Presson told the Edmonton Sun.
It’s no secret that there are scores of Canadians who keep the CFL at arm’s length and remain relatively indifferent to CFL results. The ability to be able to wager on those games could change the opinion of many Canadians toward three-down football.
“Anytime you have skin in the game, your sensitivity to the outcome becomes heightened and the greater fan you tend to become,” Presson said.
Wade Miller, CEO of the Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers, estimates that sports betting at sportsbooks and on betting apps could eventually generate seven-figure revenue for the league.
“Football is one of the sports that's highly bet on, so it's a great opportunity for each team across the CFL and the league,” Miller told the Winnipeg Sun.
Aiming To Emulate NFL
The NFL is the king of sports betting in the North American market. The CFL will never be able to generate the level of passion that the NFL is capable of driving among sports bettors.
However, if they can even capture a fraction of that NFL betting action it could be worth millions of dollars to the league.
“The CFL thinks they can make substantial money off it and I think they can,” said Canadian MP Kevin Waugh, who was the driving force behind Bill C-218, which legalized single-sports betting in the country.
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Deal Signed With BetRegal
Already, the CFL has signed an agreement with Canadian-owned online sportsbook BetRegal, making it the Official Sport Gaming Partner of the CFL.
“The Canadian Football League is one of the most iconic brands in all of professional sports and we are thrilled to be partnering with a league so rooted in Canadian culture,” said Michael Mirtl, CEO of BetRegal.
“The evolving regulatory landscape around sports betting in Canada presents an amazing opportunity to enhance the CFL fan experience.”
CFL betting lines from BetRegal occupy a prominent presence across the top of CFL.ca, the league’s official website. Among the other promotional opportunities that BetRegal and the CFL are partnering to offer include CFL squares, and the Race to the 108th Grey Cup, a Pick’Em style game that will allow fans to pick winners and predict scores to win BetRegal and CFL prizing.
This deal is only scratching the surface of the possibilities for revenue that the CFL could generate from legal and regulated Canadian single sports betting.
“They’re anxious to find ways to take advantage of this,” said Paul Burns, president of the Canadian Gaming Association, said of the CFL.
Estimates are that the CFL could generate $1.5 million to $2 million per season through the sale of statistical data to betting sites. For a league that operates with a $5 million per team salary cap, that would prove to be a significant revenue stream.
An industry source indicated that in Saskatchewan, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Association, which will be overseeing sports betting in the province, is working with the Saskatchewan Roughriders on developing a CFL-specific mobile app.