Gambling expansion in Canada is relevant to all kinds of sports fans in the country, no matter the league(s) you choose to watch and wager on. Whether it’s the CFL, NFL, NHL, NBA, or a random cricket match on the other side of the world, we all benefit from more betting options in Ontario and eventually, other provinces.
The NCAA Tournament, also known as March Madness, tips off in the United States on Thursday. And believe it or not, that too has some relevance to the arrival of commercial online sportsbooks on April 4th.
As it turns out, the event’s final day is also the first one that leading sportsbook platforms such as BetMGM, FanDuel, BetRivers, and DraftKings (among many others) can join the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s ProLine+ in offering single-game wagering to the province’s residents.
Why is this important? Well, U.S. bettors are expected to wager approximately $3 billion on March Madness games this year according to the American Gaming Association. While American college basketball isn’t nearly as popular in Canada, this does offer a glimpse at the type of potential the event holds as a revenue generator across several weeks and 63 total games of action.
there’s money to be made in Ontario
Ontario is Canada’s most populous province with nearly 15 million people and simply put, there’s money to be made here in a legalized, multi-operator sports betting market. One need look no further for corroboration than the performance of the non-regulated market in the area over the last several years.
Prior to the passage of bill C-218 which allowed for single-game betting, unlicensed offshore sportsbooks took in almost C$4 billion per year. That massive figure doesn’t even include other forms of betting such that facilitated by local bookies, a practice which is estimated to generate many more billions.
While offshore sportsbooks have been allowed to operate and thrive during the many years when single-game betting resided in a gray area of legality, the choice should be easy for Ontario bettors now that legalized, mainstream sports betting options are on the brink of rolling out.
Naturally, not all will be ready for launch on Day 1 of the regulated market’s opening. Yet, those that are available to go live on April 4 will certainly be in an advantageous position, considering there will be relatively sparse competition and a wildly popular sporting event on the calendar the same night.
While it’s true that single-game betting has been legal since August 2021 in Ontario and options such as ProLine+ are already available and familiar to bettors, the arrival of commercial sportsbooks completely changes the landscape for the better.
why bettors will flock to commercial sportsbooks
While we can’t be sure just yet which sites will be ready to go on the very first day, those who are should have a leg up as bettors flood the legal market for a taste of the newest options out there.
ProLine+ has been reasonably successful thus far in large part because it’s more or less literally the only game in town, pun intended. ProLine+ is a fairly solid facsimile of a fully-stocked U.S. sportsbook, but it’s still limited in comparison with respect to bet types and promotions.
There’s nothing ProLine+ offers that BetMGM, FanDuel, BetRivers, DraftKings, Caesars, or PointsBet (among others) doesn’t have available. In fact, it’s the other way around when it comes to available markets and promotional offers.
And like in every other industry, competition works out to the consumer’s benefit when it comes to sports betting. With the expected coming proliferation of sportsbooks in Ontario, area bettors will reap the rewards in the form of more competitive promotional offers such as deposit bonuses, profit boosts, bet insurance, and much more.
Additionally, the more sportsbook to choose from, the more shopping for the best lines and odds the bettor will be able to carry out. Ontario bettors will also be able to maintain their existing ProLine+ accounts if they’ve already created one and will still be eligible for welcome offers and promotions elsewhere.
Canada is well represented in March Madness
Ontario-based NCAA college basketball fans will also have plenty to look forward to during the entirety of the March Madness tournament. In fact, two of the top four overall teams (both No. 1 seeds) boast a Canadian player playing a prominent role, and several other tourney teams also have players hailing from Canada.
- Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona): A Montreal native, Mathurin averaged 17.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.6 assists for the top-seeded Wildcats this season.
- Zach Edey (Purdue): Standing a towering 7-foot-4, the Ontario native averaged 14.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 blocks across just 19.1 minutes per game for the Boilermakers, which are the No. 3 seed and were ranked within the top 10 the majority of the season.
- Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga): Hailing from Aurora, Ontario, Nembhard played a pivotal guard role for the No. 1 team in the country, averaging a well-rounded 11.7 points, 5.7 assists, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game. His younger brother Ryan also played a key backcourt role for ninth-seeded Creighton but suffered a right wrist injury late in the season and will therefore be unable to participate in the tournament.
There’s a decent enough chance that when the NCAA basketball championship game takes place on April 4 that a Canadian player will be playing a massive role for a team trying to win a championship. We’d put our money on Mathurin or Nembhard being one of those guys.