Widespread sports betting in Ontario is set for its big coming-out party on April 4th, and the arrival of commercial sportsbooks in Canada‘s most populous province is certainly going to change the face of sports betting in the country.
One of the many benefits that Ontarians will come to enjoy from this development is the volume of regulated sportsbooks to choose from. They will also find many more markets from commercial betting sites compared to ProLine +, unregulated sportsbooks like Bodog, or their local bookie.
So, what are the sports that Canadians want to bet on in comparison to the United States, where these industry-leading sportsbooks currently thrive?
We already know that CFL betting will be wildly popular as the 2022 season nears. The uber-talented Blue Jays and MLB betting will also see quite a bit of action before NBA and NHL postseasons join the party, as Ontario sports betting expansion lines up pretty well with all three.
But there’s another beloved sport in Canada left out of that group. One with a pretty small but growing betting market that could be set to explode as commercial sports betting in Ontario takes hold.
“When it comes to the biggest differences between the US gambling market and the Canadian gambling market, I think there’s an obvious sport that we’re going to see a difference in and it’s curling,” PointsBet Canada Chief Commercial Officer Nic Sulsky recently told 3DownNation.
How popular is curling in Canada?
The short answer: extremely. The sanctioning body for the sport is Curling Canada, which attracts a reported 13 million viewers each season with its hundreds of hours of programming across digital platforms annually. Curling Canada also estimates 90% of curlers globally hail from Canada.
PointsBet Sportsbook, which is known for its innovation and was one of the first to become licensed in Ontario, aims to capitalize on curling’s popularity as sports betting expands in Canada. In October 2021, several months before being able to offer betting services in Ontario, PointsBet inked a five-year deal to become the official sports betting partner of Curling Canada.
“We are really excited about our partnership with Curling Canada,” PointsBet Chief Commercial Officer Nic Sulsky told 3DownNation. “The opportunity to customize our product for the Canadian sports fan is something that we are taking extraordinarily seriously.”
The deal allows PointsBet to offer ways for fans to engage with events, and also makes the sportsbook a title sponsor for a Curling Canada Season of Champions event starting in 2022-23.
While the popularity of curling is already well-substantiated, the betting market for the sport is still largely untapped, even among the bookmakers and offshore sites that Canadians have been patronizing for many years. That’s where PointBet comes in.
“Curling ratings beat the [Toronto] Raptors,” Sulsky notes in an effort to underscore just how closely Canadians already follow the sport. “I think that we’re going to see some really exciting developments within the evolution of not only curling gambling but how cool curling is going to get.”
PointsBet aims to pioneer curling space
Building a distinct Canadian brand includes leaning into the sports that Canadians love the most. And in this case, it also includes taking said sport and adding the betting element to it.
While PointsBet Canada’s exact curling plans and products remain somewhat of a mystery ahead of launch, Sulsky leaves little doubt there will be plenty for Ontario bettors to choose from.
“Thirty-five percent of Canadians watch curling, but it’s a pretty nascent gambling market. Well, we’re definitely going to pioneer the hell out of that,” Sulsky explained.
PointsBet Canada is likely to roll out betting menus for curling that may rival some of its offerings for U.S. sports. That means not only betting on the winner of a match, but also totals and spreads in addition to props for specific ends and live wagers on individual throws.
Curling Canada’s 12 annual sanctioned national curling championship events, the Home Hardware Canada Cup of Curling, and the World Curling Championships are sure to be part of PointsBet Canada’s curling markets. Additionally, we could see special offerings and promotions centered around these events as a result of the partnership.
The groundbreaking agreement with Curling Canada is squarely in line with PointsBet’s stated goal of making sure it builds a brand north of the border that isn’t a copy and paste from the United States, and that has Canadian flair in its offerings.
“The partnerships we’ve struck so far speaks to that focus. It’s about building that authentically Canadian brand,” Sulsky said. “And then being able to provide a platform to really pioneer new ways for Canadian sports fans to bet alongside sports like curling.”
Starting in April, curling fans across Ontario will finally have a regulated betting platform with a dedicated focus on their sport thanks to PointsBet’s efforts.