Ontario’s first full-service retail sportsbook is off to an exciting start – but don’t expect financial numbers anytime soon.
Caesars Windsor officially cut the ribbon on its brick-and-mortar sportsbook on Jan.11 at 3 pm. The ceremony — well-attended by politicians and local celebrities — came with much curiosity.
Consider Ontario has other physical sports betting locations. But those largely remain sports lounges and betting kiosks.
Caesars, on the other hand, went all in on the sports betting experience. Here, punters will enjoy massive LED TVs, state-of-the-art sound, dedicated seating areas and more.
The casino says opening week went well. But for now, Ontario’s oldest casino told PlayCanada, via email it wants to keep its financial numbers close to its chest.
“We do not share specific revenue numbers; however, our guests are excited with the new space and it has been busy since it opened .”
Caesars Windsor sportsbook offers 22 large-screen TVs, three betting windows
Tandem Engineering Group (designer) and Artisan Construction (general contractor) worked together on the 1,618-square-foot project.
Few expenses were spared, and the new space features:
- Three betting windows
- Seven self-serve betting kiosks
- 22-large screen HD LED TVs with state-of-the-art sound
- Dedicated seating lounge area
- Fan-favourite menu items
Considering many sports games begin later in the evening, Caesars sportsbook is open daily between 10 am – midnight. However, its sports betting kiosks are available 24/7.
Thus, possibilities are aplenty, said a Caesars’ spokesperson.
“The new Caesars Sportsbook adds an exciting new element to Caesars Resort and Casino with 22 large screens, food and beverage and of course single and parlay betting. We’re excited about the strong response to our opening weekend.”
Caesars remains silent on special offerings, potential Super Bowl promotions
Conveniently, Caesars’ sportsbook opens right before Super Bowl LVII (Feb.12).
Traditionally, the NFL’s grand finale is one of the most bet-on sporting events of the year, with this season no exception.
Today, four teams remain in contention for the Super Bowl:
- The Philadelphia Eagles
- Kansas City Chiefs
- Cincinnati Bengals
- San Francisco 49ers
If you were wondering, the Eagles – pegged at +250 American odds, 3.5 European odds — are the consensus odds-on favourite, but the contest remains tight. The Chiefs and Bengals are close behind.
Unfortunately, the book wouldn’t tip its hat as to what it had in store for the big event just yet.
Here’s what they told us:
“Please check our website and social channels for the latest updates.”
Star-studded guests in attendance for Caesars sportsbook opening
Moving forward, it looks like Caesars sportsbook will have plenty of support.
The grand opening featured a number of high-profile people, including:
- Kevin Laforet (Caesars Windsor’s President)
- MP Brian Masse (Windsor West NDP)
- Grant Fuhr (Former Edmonton Oiler, Hockey Hall of Famer)
- Drew Dilkens (Windsor mayor)
Of them, Fuhr, fittingly, placed the ceremonial first bet. The 60-year-old is most known for his role in the Edmonton Oilers’ 1980s dynasty.
Nowadays, the Hockey Hall of Famer runs The Grant Fuhr Foundation. Any winnings from Fuhr’s inaugural first bet will benefit that cause.
In the meantime, something a little less risky:
The grand opening featured the launch of Caesars for a Cause. Under the promotion, $1 was donated to The Hospice of Windsor and Essex County from every specialty Caesar sold at the casino’s restaurant.
Caesars Windsor’s President: Grand opening a testament to community partners
Laforet – at the time of the opening – applauded the region’s total team effort in the project.
“Today’s grand opening is a testament to our community partners, team Members, and our guests who have all patiently waited for this day. We embrace the opportunity to provide a world-class Caesars experience that both sports fans and guests will enjoy.”
Other sports betting options in Ontario
Despite the celebrations, Ontario does already offer other in-person sports betting experiences.
Albeit, reviews haven’t been great thus far. Nonetheless, they are still an option for players in Ontario.
For instance, currently, 10 different Great Canadian Entertainment casino locations carry retail sportsbooks. However, instead of a full-service experience like at Caesars, punters can expect sports lounges and betting kiosks.
Sports lounge locations – marketed as Great Canadian Sportsbooks – include:
- Great Blue Heron Casino & Hotel
- Pickering Casino Resort
- Elements Casino Brantford
- Shorelines Casino Belleville
Meanwhile, most of the sportsbook kiosks are situated at racetracks:
- Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands
- Elements Casino Mohawk
- Shorelines Casino Peterborough
- Elements Casino Grand River
- Casino Woodbine
- Elements Casino Flamboro
Interestingly, in theory, retail sportsbooks could have launched anytime after Aug.27, 2021. That was when single-event sports betting came into effect, making them fair game.
It is suspected the delay was related to Ontario’s focus on its online casino and sports betting launch.
Canadian sports betting ever-changing
Canadian sports betting is certainly lucrative and profitable – but it is not without its faults.
Indeed, recently the industry came under fire for what many have deemed excessive and exploitative advertisements. In short, critics say regulators must provide better protection and dissuasion to gambling – particularly for vulnerable groups and children.
Essentially, critics argue sports gambling has few restrictions compared to other vices (e.g., tobacco, cannabis, alcohol). Of particular issue is sportsbooks’ use of world-class athletes as ambassadors.
MP Brian Masse – in attendance at Caesars sportsbook opening – remains critical
Ironically, MP Brian Masse has become one of the loudest dissenting voices in the anti-sports gambling ads movement.
For context’s sake, Masse was essential in supporting Bill C-218 – legislation that legalized single-event sports betting. To that end, the NDP member was present at Caesars sportsbook’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Jan.11.
However, the very next day (Jan.12), the politician appeared in a CBC documentary focused on the “Gamblification of Canada.” In it, Masse blasted the lax regulations, condemning famous athletes and regulators alike for their part in displaying excessive gambling ads.
According to him, the criticism isn’t a contradiction. Ultimately Masse said he remains in favour of Bill C-218. It just needs some finetuning.
Regardless, as sports betting – both physical and online – continues to take off, this topic is sure to garner more attention moving forward.