Decimals Or Keeping It +100? Canada Sportsbooks Mum On European Vs. US Odds Display

Written By Dave Briggs on January 13, 2022 - Last Updated on June 29, 2022
US and European Union flags

Will operators use European or US odds displays when Ontario sports betting explodes later this year? Most of the largest sportsbook operators are mum on the subject so far.

PlayCanada reached out to several operators based in the United States who have indicated intentions to come to the Canadian market. We received a handful of “no comments,” likely because they are not authorized yet to take bets in Canada.

While some are favoring the cautious public approach before licensure, one Australian bookmaker almost assuredly coming to Canada noted how versatility will be key.

Sports betting is legal in Canada, but an expanded Ontario marketplace of operators is expected to launch in February or March of 2022, perhaps later.

Versatility probably key, but which odds show up first?

Proline Plus, currently Ontario’s only legal operator, uses the European system of decimal odds, which could be a strong bet for the Canadian sports betting marketplace when you sign on to an app. Same for PlayAlberta in Western Canada.

That’s the preferred choice for some of the grey markets already operating in Canada too, some of which have European roots and operations.

For companies ingrained in American markets, switching over systems would be a bit of a pain. We would expect both options to be available at most books, but which odds show up initially could be a strategic decision dictated by audiences and provinces.

A company spokesperson said PointsBet Canada will give sports bettors the option to toggle between US and European odds and also the ability to switch between Canada’s two official languages — English and French — in Quebec.

Sports betting European decimal odds explained

Sportsbooks in Europe mostly use decimal odds.

Odds are based on a bet of $1. Players and sportsbooks multiply the actual wager by the provided number. For a head-to-head match or game, the smaller number points to the market’s favourite (with a smaller payout), while the larger value is for the underdog.

Check out this moneyline bet:

Edmonton Elks                      2.2

Hamilton Tiger-Cats             1.8

With CFL betting, in this example, Hamilton is the favourite. A $1 bet on Edmonton would pay out $2.20, including $1.20 in profit. If the Tiger-Cats tame the Elks, the win pays out $1.80 — 80 cents in profit.

Explaining US odds displays at sportsbook

FanDuel, DraftKings Sportsbook, and most other major sports betting operators use American odds displays in the US. Odds are negative or positive three-digit numbers, all calculated from a base $100 bet. The former indicates the favourite, while the latter points to the underdog.

Here’s another moneyline example:

Ottawa Senators         +130

Toronto Maple Leafs  -170

The Leafs would be the favourite in this example. In this example, a $1 bet on the Sens would pay $2.30, or $1.30 in profit. So, the European equivalent of +130 is actually 2.30, while the -170 equivalent is about 1.59.

Blame Canada? Measurement debate, part II

Whether sports betting operators adopt the European or US odds system in Canada is a debate reminiscent of the Great White North’s decision to adopt the Metric System in the 1970s.

The United States stuck with the Imperial System. The switch to metric created much frustration to their neighbours in Canada used to measuring weight in pounds, not kilograms; height in feet and inches, not metres; and temperature in Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

Yet, Canada has long had European leanings and a closer link to the Commonwealth. Bettors will note that Canadians spell favourite the British way, despite a closer relationship with the US that drops the “u”.

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Dave Briggs

Dave Briggs is a managing editor and writer for Catena Media. His expertise is covering the gambling industry in Canada with emphasis on the casino, sports betting and horse racing sectors. He is currently reporting on the gaming industries in Canada and Michigan.

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