We Tried It: Ontario In-Game Live Betting Can Spice Up Toronto Blue Jays Game

Written By Robyn McNeil on April 12, 2022 - Last Updated on June 12, 2024
Hallway at Rogers Centre where PlayCanada's managing editor recently gave live, in-game online sports betting a try

It’s not often I get a chance to catch an MLB game IRL. I love my home province, but Nova Scotia is lacking when it comes to professional sporting events.

So, when I realized there were still tickets available for Saturday’s Toronto Blue Jays vs. Texas Rangers game at the Rogers Centre, I was quick to snap one up. I thought the game would be a great excuse to test out some of the in-game betting action at Ontario’s new online sportsbooks. Even better, I’ll be doing it live at the stadium.

So, that afternoon, I made my way to a perch high in the 500 section to take in the game and make my first-ever baseball bets.

By the end of the game, the Jays had won, and I’d won some, too. After some reflection, here’s what I learned as a newbie.

Pre-game prep for in-game Jays betting in Ontario

Since this would be my only chance to give live in-game betting a try before heading back east, I knew I wanted to try out as many new Ontario sportsbooks as possible.

But as someone who is decidedly NOT a sharp sports bettor, I didn’t want to overwhelm myself entirely either. So, I decided to stick to the operators I’d already registered for (and funded).

That meant I’d be heading into the game with four sportsbook apps at the ready: BetMGM, BetRivers, theScore Bet, and PointsBet.

I would have added Caesars Sportsbook to the lineup, but the Emperor’s app didn’t launch in Ontario until Monday. So, it’ll be summer in Toronto before I’m back to give Caesars a try.

My best piece of advice for this stage of the game? Make sure you can login to your apps on the go. I initially signed up for most operators on my laptop, so ensuring that I had access to my password manager on my phone was essential.

Also, whenever possible, I activated login via face ID. Whether you feel safe revealing your mug to access your sportsbooks in a crowd of thousands is a personal choice whether or not mask mandates are in place.

Although, I certainly liked having the option.

Rogers Centre’s game day sights and sounds

On game day, the energy outside the Rogers Centre was boisterous and electric despite heavy grey skies. A rolling sea of fans sporting Jays’ merch made their way excitedly inside as first-pitch fast approached.

Besides, this was game No. 2 of what could be a very exciting season for the Jays.

However, trekking to my seat high in the bleachers was an adventure all its own. Here’s a hot tip for anyone who’s never had that birds’ eye view of gameplay: be prepared. The path to those seats is near vertical, so visiting the canteen and bathroom on the way may be preferred. I was certainly open to anything that minimized extra trips.

Binoculars aren’t a bad idea either if you really want to see what’s going on at field level. However, I wasn’t one of the smart fans who brought them along. There’s always next time.

Not many fans were placing in-person, in-game bets at the game

A particular point of interest: there didn’t seem to be a ton of folks too interested in betting, at least not during the game. I don’t know, perhaps the experienced bettors in the house simply had better seats. In any case, I’m curious to see if this changes over the coming months as sports betting in Ontario is normalized.

Something else worth noting: despite expecting an influx of bet-related advertising to hit Ontario with the week’s market launch I didn’t see any overwhelming advertising onsite. In fact, other than billboards at Young & Dundas Square, advertising at Union Station and a handful of other billboards, I found ads to be few and far between.

There was, however, a noticeable contribution in-stadium from theScore Bet. But, that’s to be expected with the announcement of a 10-year deal that makes the local sportsbook the Jays’ exclusive betting partner.

It will be interesting to see how advertising visibility changes (or not) between now and when I’m back for round two later this summer.

On your mark, get set, BET: making in-game bets in Ontario

Once I was comfortably seated, I plugged my phone into my external charger and proceeded to fire up my chosen apps.

If you’re planning to spend all or even part of a game making bets, bringing a charger along is a smart move. Otherwise, you might find yourself tapping out (along with your battery) long before the 7th-inning stretch.

With my battery integrity protected, I then dug into the betting options on each app in my arsenal. After a bit of poking around, I chose a few wagers to make on each platform.

Of the four apps in my rotation that day I found BetMGM and PointsBet to be the most user-friendly for making in-game bets, although theScore Bet wasn’t far behind in that respect. And despite the UI feeling more clunky even, BetRivers still performed pretty solidly.

When it came to betting choices, I found PointsBet, BetMGM and BetRivers all had a lot to offer including moneylines, spreads, totals, player and game props, and same game parlays. theScore, on the other hand, at least for that game, seemed to have fewer choices.

Notably, there was a lack of player props. But I imagine theScore’s offering will continue to evolve.

My own worst enemy

In fact, for my first in-game betting experience, I’d argue my biggest hurdles were the gaps in my own baseball knowledge. It’s not easy choosing who or what to wager on when you only have a basic skillset.

Going forward, I’m hoping my newfound interest in following MLB will eventually lead to better betting outcomes.

In the meantime, I can see how the evolution of in-game micro-betting could make sports betting more accessible to the masses. Particularly masses that are currently underserved like casual sports fans, of which women make up a decent chunk.

For a bettor like me, having to review lines and props and weigh options can feel like a big lift.

But if you send me an in-game, in-app question where all I need to do to answer is make a simple choice (like whether the next pitch ends in an out) and all I have to do to agree is swipe right?

SIGN ME UP.

Results are in, in-game betting added to my live-game experience

I must admit, by the end of the game I’d lost more of the day’s bets than I won.

However, the way things panned out when it came to actual money won and lost, I came out about even. And since I was fully prepared to lose every bet made, I’m considering the fact I didn’t a positive.

That said, anyone who saw me flipping between apps making bet after bet probably thought ‘this woman has a betting problem.’ If any of you happen to be reading this: don’t fret. I only wagered what I could afford to lose.

And that’s the best advice I can give anyone wanting to give sports betting a try: decide what you’re willing (and able) to lose and stop when you reach your predetermined limit.

Personally, I found in-game betting a boon to my fan experience. It was a lot of fun risking a few dollars on in-game predictions that offered something to look toward as the game progressed. But, if I was wagering an amount I couldn’t afford to lose that enjoyment would surely wane as my balance fell.

Betting responsibly, however, enhanced my game-watching experience. In fact, I look forward to another chance to try out live in-game betting on my very next visit.

Until then? Let’s play ball.

Photo by Robyn McNeil
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Robyn McNeil

Robyn McNeil is a Nova Scotia-based writer and editor. She lives in Halifax in an empty nest with a mischievous cat and a penchant for good stories, strong tea, cheeseburgers, yoga, graveyards, hammocks, gardening, games, herb, and hoppy beer.

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