British Columbians are embracing single-event bets.
Sports bettors in the province have wagered more than $25 million in two months on single events. British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) released details this week for the first time since introducing single-event wagering on PlayNow.com.
According to the lottery, the spend demonstrates PlayNow’s ability to provide engaging sports betting entertainment safely.
“This is a significant milestone for BCLC,” says Lynda Cavanaugh, BCLC’s interim president and CEO. “It’s important for players to know that playing with BCLC supports the success of British Columbia, as PlayNow.com is the only legal gambling website from which revenue supports important provincial initiatives, including healthcare and education.”
Football dominates as NHL picks up steam
So far, football is driving the lion’s share of singles bets on the provincial betting site. In the first seven weeks of the season, NFL bets jumped 97% compared to last year. At that time, Canada restricted sports betting to parlay bets.
To date, the top draw on PlayNow was the week four game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots. In that case, single-event bets accounted for 69% of bets and 80% of the money wagered.
That said, interest in hockey wagers is on the rise. In the first 19 days of the season, bets on the NHL have increased 71% over last year.
In light of the increased betting activity, player health is a top priority for BCLC.
On top of a suite of player safeguards, PlayNow.com provides GameSense Advisors over telephone and online chat to support healthy habits. Advisors can refer players to treatment and support if required.
PlayNow.com is the only gambling website in North America to offer this service.
Show me the money
According to BCLC, the lottery is exploring further opportunities to provide BC players with more access to single-event bets. However, it stands to reason that BC’s closed market not only inhibits player choice but limits the economic impact on the province.
In contrast, consider Oregon and Colorado in the United States.
With 4.2 million people and a regulatory structure similar to BC, Oregon is a good place to start.
In the first two months post-launch in October 2019, Oregonians bet US$22.7 million, or about CA$28.2 million. And in September of this year alone, the state generated US$25.1 million (CA$31.1 million).
Comparatively, you would think that Colorado (with 5.8 million people) would fall in the same economic ballpark.
However, the big difference is that Colorado opened their betting market to competition. Today the state has more than 2-dozen sportsbook operators—more than any other legal jurisdiction in North America.
In the first two months of launching in May 2020, sportsbooks in Colorado handled US$63.8 million in wagers (CA$79.1 million). And in September 2021, sportsbooks in the state generated US$408.3 million (CA$506.8 million).
Keep in mind, too, that Colorado launched during the peak of the pandemic-related impact on North American sports. Yet, it still outperformed Oregon and British Columbia.
It will be interesting to see if provinces, like BC, maintain the status quo within their closed markets. Or, perhaps, consider opening up to private operators, like Ontario.
According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s (AGCO) roadmap, Ontario’s competitive market will launch by the end of December. However, recently several industry insiders have noted early 2022 as the most likely timeframe.
When it does launch, one thing is sure; all eyes will be on Ontario.