Canadian provincial lotteries are ready for the Madness.
The NCAA’s marquee year-end men’s basketball tournament — known as March Madness — is set to begin on March 15. Plus this year, the NCAA women’s event is also branded as March Madness.
Loads of Canadians are expected to get in on the sports betting fun. But it will have to be through the provincial lotteries.
The highly anticipated expanded Ontario sports betting market launches April 4: The day of the men’s championship game. The women’s tournament will have wrapped the night before.
Nonetheless, there will still be plenty of betting options to be had before the nets are cut, including some Canadian players to watch.
PlayCanada checked out some of the best offerings in the country.
Ontario sports betting: Traditional pre-game, in-game options
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation will be offering in-game betting and traditional pre-match options for the Madness through its Proline Plus Sportsbook operator.
Tony Bitonti, OLG’s director of external communications, tells PlayCanada the provincial lottery will continue its tradition of special pools cards. Bitonti said these markets will be available for the championship match.
Similar to what OLG did with its Super Bowl card — which featured many fun and quirky betting options, Bitoni suspects the NCAA card will be something similar.
The special pools card has yet to be finalized, however.
NIT, women’s tournament also to be offered in Ontario
OLG has something else up its sleeve as well this month.
That’s because pre-game and in-game markets will be offered for the National Invitation Tournament when possible. The NIT is an annual year-end competition for teams that did not qualify for the 68-team NCAA field.
But don’t think these are some dinky schools in the outskirts battling it out. The tournament routinely features high-major powerhouses who aren’t able to get out of their tough divisions and into the main bracket.
For instance, Memphis (2021) and Texas (2019) have won the past two editions.
Another historic breakthrough comes in the shape of the women’s NCAA tournament. Pre-game markets will be available alongside in-play options for the Sweet Sixteen round.
Alberta sports betting: First year will feature NIT, women’s NCAA
The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis agency is offering March Madness betting for the first year at PlayAlberta.ca.
Markets for the men’s tournament will start with the play-in rounds, while the women’s tournament will be offered starting in the Sweet 16 round.
Additionally, Play Alberta will also have options on the NIT. Markets will open to legal-aged Albertans after Selection Sunday on March 13.
According to the AGLC, college basketball has accounted for 34% of all bets on the sport. In addition, college hoops has had a steady increase in popularity each month since the season tipped off in November, according to a spokesperson.
Atlantic Provinces: Player props will potentially be made available
Markets for the women’s tournament won’t be the case everywhere. A spokesperson at the Atlantic Lottery Corporation confirmed the women’s tournament won’t be available for wagers in their provincial lottery.
The ALC covers:
- New Brunswick
- Nova Scotia
- Prince Edward Island
- Newfoundland and Labrador
Instead, all traditional betting markets will be offered, in addition to a strong possibility that player props will be made available, according to the ALC.
It’s a formula that has worked for the Atlantic lottery. The spokesperson stated college basketball has been one of its biggest draws with championship future offerings fairing well once again.
Gonzaga, Duke and Purdue have been the most popular picks, respectively.
And with single-event betting options now being legal, and added last month in Nova Scotia, players are enjoying the added flexibility.
“As awareness grows around single-event betting, we’ve seen a gradual increase in the interest our players have in it,” an ALC spokesperson wrote to PlayCanada in an email. “That said, a very large segment of our players still prefers parlays, or enjoy both options.”
WCLC: Sport Select still taking huge amounts of parlays
The Western Canada Lottery Corporation, which covers several provinces, is going big for the Big Dance.
Acocrding to the WCLC, point spreads, Proline parlays and over/under products under Sport Select will be taken on the NCAA Tournament, in addition to the NIT.
However, player props are not available in the western provinces.
The group had taken about $8,000 in sales for futures betting, according to a spokesperson.
In general, basketball is the third-biggest sport for betting handle for the WCLC, behind hockey and football, respectively.
Parlays are still king out west, despite the addition of single-game betting last year, perhaps because of habit.
“As this is our first year offering single-game betting, we’re still getting a feel for how big of a driver it could grow to be for us and we don’t necessarily have the ability to break numbers down by individual sports yet, a WCLC spokesperson said. “Right now, about 20% of our overall Sport Select sales are single outcome bets, while the remainders are parlay bets.”
The WCLC is also running the Ultimate Fan Cave promotion this March. To enter, players can register for an MVP account online, enter up to 25 Sport Select tickets each day, and hope for luck in weekly and monthly drawings. The grand prize is 1 $10,000 fan cave prize package, which includes 65-inch QLED Smart TV, a premium three-seat recliner, a bar fridge, a soundbar system and more.
The following provinces cover gaming under the WCLC:
- Yukon Territory
- Northwest Territories
BCLC, Loto-Quebec: No response as of publication date
Loto-Quebec and the British Columbia Lottery Corporation have yet to respond to questions about their NCAA offerings.
What’s the latest news on the NCAA March Madness tournament?
For the men here are the key dates you need to know for the Madness:
- Selection Sunday: March 13
- Opening games: March 15-16
- Final Four: April 2
- Championship game: April 4
For the women:
- Selection Sunday: March 13
- Opening games: March 16-17
- Final Four: April 1
- Championship game: April 3
Bettors will have 68 and 64 teams to choose from on the men’s and women’s brackets, respectively.