March Madness: Young Americans Crossing The Border For Ontario Casinos

Written By C.J. Pierre on March 10, 2023 - Last Updated on March 13, 2023

Sports betting in Ontario is still in its early stages. Gamblers are still navigating the new phenomenon of retail sportsbooks at Ontario casinos.

While options are somewhat limited, the gambling age in Ontario is 19. However, the legal gambling age is 21 in the border states of Michigan and New York.

With March Madness upon us, young people might take advantage of the age gap and trek across the border to place a bet on their favourite College Basketball teams. Casinos in Ontario are prepping for an influx of young American visitors during the big tourney.

March Madness may entice Americans to check out cross-border casinos

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, recreational travel from the US to Canada was not allowed. Americans couldn’t visit any Ontario casinos. This created a struggle for casinos such as Caesars Windsor across the river from Detroit and casinos in Niagara Falls, ON across the border from New York. With pandemic restrictions lifted and the border open, Americans can travel to and from Canada again.

So, with the 2023 NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament just around the corner, we can expect to see quite a few people betting on March Madness in both countries.

However, some college-age students might decide to make a trip across the border to bet on games.

Caesars Windsor continues to see increase in US guests

Officials in the Canadian sports betting world are expecting a high volume of bets on the NCAA tournament.

Susanne Tomkins, Manager of PR and communications for Caesars Windsor, said they are excited to welcome guests to watch the tourney at Caesars Sportsbook inside the House Sports Lounge.

“With all of the action happening throughout the day, we are expecting many guests to take advantage of excitement of the event,” said Tomkins. “Our Caesars Sportsbook will also be offering a special menu from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. from March 16-March 19 and March 23 to March 26.”

Tomkins also said this is an excellent time for young Americans to check out what the Caesars Sportsbook has to offer.

“We continue to see an increase in our US guests return to our property and offering them this new amenity is an exciting opportunity for them to make the trip to Caesars Windsor,” she said. “The NCAA Basketball Tournament does offer a younger demographic an opportunity to perhaps visit our property for the first time.  As with all casinos, our guests must be 19 years of age or older.”

US gambling industry’s influence on the Canadian market

As the US gambling industry continues to expand, many wonder how it is impacting betting in Canada. Ontario borders two US states that have legalized online gambling (Michigan and New York). This makes it easier for residents of both countries to access games legally, as there are more avenues they can use when trying to play casino games or bet on sports.

Recent surveys and studies have shown that around 17% of Canadian gamblers now play at offshore sites approved by US jurisdictions. Meaning Canadians have become more comfortable with playing at offshore casinos.

Retail sports betting options in Ontario

Great Canadian Entertainment opened the first four sportsbook lounges in Ontario on Oct. 28, 2022. Visitors can find the “Great Canadian Sportsbooks” at Elements Casino Brantford, Great Blue Heron Casino and Hotel, Pickering Casino Resort, and Shorelines Casino Belleville.

Meanwhile, Caesars Sportsbook at Caesars Windsor became Ontario’s first full-service retail sportsbook when it opened its doors on Jan. 11, 2023. Kambi is also helping to offer retail sports betting at Fallsview Casino Resort and Casino Niagara.

Additionally, six other Ontario casinos now feature sports betting kiosks:

  • Casino Woodbine
  • Elements Casino Flamboro
  • Shorelines Casino Peterborough
  • Elements Casino Grand River
  • Elements Casino Mohawk
  • Shorelines Casino Thousand Islands
Photo by AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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C.J. Pierre

C.J. Pierre is a Lead Writer at Play Canada. He has been covering news and sports for over a decade for both online and TV broadcasts. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is an alum of Minnesota State University: Moorhead. He recently dove into tribal casino and online gambling news. He also covered the launch of sports betting in Arizona. C.J. has experience as a reporter and videographer and has covered high school, college and professional sports throughout his career, most notably following Arizona Cardinals, Phoenix Suns, Minnesota Vikings and North Dakota State University football.

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