Ontario Sports Betting

The way you can bet on sports in Ontario is going through some dramatic changes. You’ve been limited to betting parlays with the Ontario Lottery Corporation’s PROLINE lottery products for the past 30 years. Plus, you’ve never been able to purchase PROLINE tickets anywhere but in person at licensed lottery retailers across the province.

However, federal sports betting legislation lifting the Canada-wide ban on single-game wagering and putting the decision on full-scale sports betting into the hands of the province passed in June 2021. That means more sports betting options are about to open up. 

The province itself is breaking up the Ontario Lottery Corporation’s monopoly on online gambling. It is also creating an entity under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to regulate it. That entity will then license privately run online sportsbooks and online casinos here. In fact, it has already published a draft of Ontario sports betting rules and sent them out for consultation until Aug. 18, 2021. This will allow stakeholders to submit opinions until that date. Then, the AGCO will use that input to finalize single-game wagering regulations in Ontario. Once that’s done, they’ll license the privately-run online sportsbooks that want to come here and launch this new single-game sports wagering market. All before the end of 2021.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford promised to “establish a competitive market for online legal gambling,” in the 2020 provincial budget. Federal single-game wagering legislation and Ontario’s move towards a competitive online gaming market will deliver on the sports betting part of that promise.

Ultimately, online and mobile single-game sports betting is coming to Ontario. That’s why you’ll find a complete guide to online sports betting in Ontario below. It’s a full breakdown of everything you need to know about online sports betting here in Ontario.

Live Updates & Timeline for Sports Betting in Ontario

On April 22, 2021, The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill C-218) passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons. It was introduced to the Senate on April 30, 2021 and passed its third and final reading there on June 22, 2021. The bill became law on June 30, 2021 when Canada’s Governor General gave Royal Assent.

This new law legalizes single-game wagering across Canada, putting a decision on what form single-game sports betting will take, and which entities can take legal bets, to each Canadian province and territory. 

Now that the bill has become law, Ontario is poised to flip the switch on single-game wagering across the province. The province is going about the process of opening up its online gambling market to private operators through a continuing consultation process that recently included the provincial government and Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario releasing a draft of Ontario sports betting rules. It has sent the rules out for consultation until Aug. 18, 2021, allowing stakeholder input. The AGCO will use that input to finalize single-game wagering regulations for the province, licence privately-run online sportsbooks that want in, and launch its new single-game sports wagering market by the end of 2021.

Additionally, the parlay-style betting currently offered by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation will continue and single-event sports wagering will be added to it. In July 2021 Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation executives said they are planning to launch a “major sports betting solution,” that will be “single-event wagering ready,” by the start of the 2021 NFL season in September 2021.

Ontario Sports Betting Legislative Timeline

July 28, 2021: The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario released draft regulatory standards for sport and event betting in Ontario asking for stakeholder input before Aug. 18, 2021.

June 30, 2021: The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill C-218) became law after receiving Royal Assent from Canada’s Governor General

June 22, 2021: The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill C-218) passed its third and final reading in the Senate

April 30, 2021: The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill C-218) is Introduced in the Senate

April 22, 2021: The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill C-218) passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons

March 4, 2021: Ontario releases “Discussion paper: A model for internet gaming in Ontario” outlining a model for the new competitive market for online legal gambling in Ontario

Feb. 25, 2020: Kevin Waugh, Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK introduces Bill C-218, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), in the House this of Commons

April 11, 2019: Ontario Premier Doug Ford promises to establish a competitive market for online legal gambling in his 2019 Ontario Budget Speech

1992: The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation launched Pro-Line, allowing parlay-style sports betting through lottery retailers

How sports betting works in Ontario right now

Right now, the only legal way to bet on sports in Ontario is through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s PROLINE lottery products. You can only purchase PROLINE tickets in person at licensed lottery retailers. Plus, it’s all parlay betting. There is a PROLINE app, but it can only be used for bet building, not online wagering.

Here’s a more detailed look at the four different PROLINE sports betting lottery products:

PROLINE

A minimum of three and a maximum of six-game NHL, CFL, NFL, NBA, NCAA football and basketball, MLB, MLS, and European soccer parlays as offered. The only way to win is to get all your picks right. It’s essentially moneyline odds parlay betting with a fixed spread for each game. Set spreads differ for each sport.

Bets are on one of five outcomes:

  • Visitor to win by larger spread or more
  • Visitor to win by smaller spread or more
  • Tie
  • Home team to win by smaller spread or more
  • Home team to win by larger spread or more

Spreads are:

  • 1-2 goals in hockey and baseball
  • 4-8 points in football
  • 6 or 11 points in basketball
  • 1 goal in soccer

The minimum bet is $2 and the maximum is $100.

Pools

Pool parlay betting is where you compete against the other players entering the same pool by picking visitors or home wins for all events listed on a pool parlay card.

Entries are $5 per card. Prize pools are made up of 60% of all entry fees paid. All those with the most correct picks share the prize pool. Ties go to the visitor.

Baseball, basketball, college basketball, football, college football, hockey, soccer and car racing pools are available.

Point spread

Allowed are 2-12 game pro football, college football, pro basketball, college basketball, baseball, and hockey single-sport against-the-spread parlays. The only way to win is to get all your picks against-the-spread right.

Parlay betting with variable spreads set by oddsmakers for each game. The minimum bet is $2 and the maximum $100.

Props

Allowed are 3-6 prop football, baseball, basketball and hockey over/under prop parlays. The only way to win is to get all your picks right. Parlay betting with variable odds set by oddsmakers for each side of a prop. Team and player stat props available. The minimum bet is $2 and the maximum $100.

Legal vs Illegal Sportsbooks

Previous Canadian law made it illegal to run a sportsbook, but not necessarily against the law to bet on sports. As a result, there have long been a number of “offshore” sportsbooks offering a variety of single-game betting options to Canadians online.

Most offer better odds and infinitely more betting options than PROLINE. But it has still never been a good idea to bet with these grey-market sports betting operators. No Canadian oversight or regulation means these sportsbooks can do whatever they want with your money, and many do.

They employ unscrupulous banking techniques to trick Canadian banks into doing business with them. That can make it hard to get ahold of your money. Plus, many are guilty of predatory practices. They’ll delay withdrawals and offer bonuses for you to cancel withdrawals. That way, they can hold on to your winnings until you lose those winnings right back to them.

If you think these operations can’t shut the doors and disappear with your money overnight, think again. It happened with offshore online poker operators. It can happen with sportsbooks too. Unfortunately, if it ever does, you’ll have nowhere to turn.

The province estimates people in Ontario are betting somewhere around $500 million a year with various offshore gaming operators. Don’t be one of them. Avoid the inevitable feelings of regret by sticking to PROLINE, or be patient. The federal and provincial governments are in the process of bringing safer and more secure sports betting options to you. Offering up the kind of consumer protections only a government body can provide. It’s only a matter of time before those options are here in Ontario.

When is single-game betting coming to Ontario?

The federal government passed legislation in June 2021 that amends the Criminal Code to lift the ban on single-game sports betting in Canada. It also gives provinces and territories the right to regulate it. The province of Ontario and industry stakeholders are now working towards the launch of legal single-game wagering across Ontario. They expect to do that by the beginning of the 2021 NFL season in September.

The new federal law leaves it up to the individual provinces and territories to decide if they want to add single-game wagering to the sports betting lottery products they offer or introduce a private operator model. This model would allow privately run sportsbooks to be licensed to operate. Ontario is choosing to do both. Premier Doug Ford promised to open up the legal online gambling market to competition in his 2020 provincial budget. Now, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has been tasked with overseeing the new regulated online gaming market and licensing private third-party online sportsbooks and casinos. To that end, it is engaging with the public and gaming and social responsibility sectors in an effort to figure out how it will all work.

Of course, the question is: When will single-game wagering come to Ontario? The answer is: As soon as the provincial licensing process is complete and the province’s first privately run licensed online and mobile sportsbooks are ready to go live. Or, when the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s single-event wagering ready sports betting solution goes live – Whichever comes first. Experienced online sportsbook operators from the US and Canada are already preparing to enter the market. Plus, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation is promising to launch before the 2021 NFL season begins in September 2021.

Which online sportsbooks are coming to Ontario?

Ontario is currently the only Canadian province opening up its sports betting market to private operators. Here’s a look at who might be coming:

  • theScore Bet: Canadian sports media app company turned sportsbook operator in New Jersey, Colorado, Indiana, and Iowa. Founder and CEO John Levy has indicated theScore wants in what he estimates to be a US$3.8 billion to US$5.4 billion market across Canada.
  • Torstar: The Canadian newspaper and media corporation behind The Toronto Star announced in March 2021 it intends to launch an online casino and sportsbook betting brand in Ontario in 2021. It’s now waiting for the passage of federal and provincial legislation and approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
  • DraftKings: Daily Fantasy Sports leader turned sport betting operator in 12 states says there’s a chance it’ll be taking bets on the Super Bowl in Canada next year.
  • FanDuel and FOXBet: FanDuel and FOXBet US sportsbook owner Flutter Entertainment used to run the PlayNow.com online sports betting lottery product in BC and Manitoba. Scientific Games Digital has since taken over, but familiarity with some Canadian sports betting markets suggest they may want in the biggest, right here in Ontario.
  • PointsBet: Australian import into the US sports betting market operating in New Jersey, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado, and Michigan. The size of the Ontario sports betting market will make it attractive to PointsBet.
  • Caesars: Caesars Casino & Sportsbook operates online in states with Caesars properties: New Jersey and Pennsylvania. There is a Caesars property in Ontario: Caesars Windsor Hotel & Casino in Windsor.
  • BetMGM: BetMGM Sportsbook operates even in states where there is no MGM property, which makes Ontario a possibility for one of the biggest names in gaming.
  • William Hill: The largest sportsbook operator in the US isn’t likely to ignore the size of the Ontario sports betting market.

Online vs retail sportsbooks

Casino Niagara has Multi-Sport Wagering available at the Level 3 Cashier’s Cage. It basically turns the cage into a PROLINE lottery retailer, but effectively turns the casino into a sportsbook of sorts. The Fallsview Market inside Fallsview Casino Resort is also an Ontario lottery retailer. That means the entire resort and casino is a place where you can watch and bet on sports almost the same way you would inside a traditional sportsbook.

At least two of Ontario’s casinos are now offering the only type of sports betting Ontario allows. Therefore, one can assume they will offer any other type it does as well. That could mean casino sportsbooks soon offering single-game betting. Or, private sportsbook operators partnering with Ontario casinos to launch retail sportsbooks on the property. At the very least, it means PROLINE lottery retailers at casino locations offering single game wagering.

Of course, Ontario wants to break up the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s monopoly on online gaming and allow private operators in. They may ultimately allow these operators to launch retail operations as well. Although, they’ll go online first. The thing is there are advantages to that for you as a consumer.

Online sportsbooks and sportsbook apps turn your phone into a sportsbook you can access wherever you are inside the province, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. There’s a convenience and freedom to that which retail sportsbooks simply cannot match. Plus, online and mobile sports betting means live, in-game betting. You just can’t get a bet down fast enough at retail sportsbooks to take part in live betting.

What Betting Markets to Expect in Ontario

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s PROLINE lottery products limit betting to minimum two- or three-leg parlays. The sports include NFL betting and NCAA football betting, NHL hockey betting, NBA betting and NCAA basketball betting. Plus, there’s MLB betting, soccer betting (MLS odds, Premier League odds, World Cup futures odds etc) and some car racing (Formula 1 betting and NASCAR betting).

Single-game betting will bring many more options into the fold. That could mean golf, tennis, boxing, UFC, and other MMA betting markets launching in Ontario. It could also mean the addition of more fringe sports for betting. This may include curling odds, handball, Australian Rules football, rugby odds, table tennis, and more. It may even open up special and novelty betting markets including those surrounding US elections, the Oscars, and the Grammys.

Single-game betting also means the minimum two or three leg parlays and the PROLINE product’s forced fixed-spread moneyline wagering will be gone. In it’s place you’ll find traditional moneyline, spread, totals, and props betting. Single-game betting should also open up futures markets, live betting markets. This may include period, quarter, half, and halftime bets, and more parlay options, including teasers.

Futures betting

Legal single-game betting is likely to bring futures betting to Ontario for the first time. That means you’ll now find Raptors odds, Leafs odds and Blue Jays odds to make the postseason, win their division, or even win the title in any upcoming (or ongoing)  season. In fact, it also means the opportunity to bet on who is going to win it all in any sport, at any time. Odds on these bets are adjusted throughout the year alongside a team or athlete’s true chances of capturing glory.

Plus, it will open up futures betting markets for major awards in most sports. That means you’ll be able to bet on Blue Jays ace Hyun-Jin Ryu to win the Cy Young or Auston Matthews to win the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP. Plus, you can bet on Hamilton Tiger-Cats receiver Brandon Banks to win CFL Most Outstanding Player honours again and Raptors star Pascal Siakam to get his due in NBA MVP voting.

The thing about futures markets is that betting is open all year long. That means the offseason through the postseason. However, the odds change as each team or athlete’s chances of winning a title or postseason award increase or decrease. That means, for most teams or athletes with a realistic chance of winning, the earlier you get a bet down, the better the odds will be. In other words, the earlier you bet on the winner, the bigger the payday you’ll earn.

Pro Team/Sportsbook Deals

Most of the pro sports leagues that operate in Ontario already have partnership and sponsorship deals in place with legal and regulated sportsbook operators south of the border. Looking ahead, it’s logical to think any of these private sportsbook brands entering the Ontario market will look to leverage the league deals they already enjoy and the popularity of Ontario’s pro sports teams.

The NHL. has two teams in Ontario: The Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators. The league also has sports betting partnership and sponsorship deals with MGM, FanDuel, William Hill, and PointsBet. In fact, the NHL now has an equity stake PointsBet as a result of that deal.

Major League Baseball has just one Canadian team: the Toronto Blue Jays. This league also has various sponsorship and data sharing agreements with MGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, and FOXBet. The Toronto Raptors are the only NBA team in Canada. The NBA and some of its teams count MGM, FOXBet and FanDuel as official gaming partners. Finally, the CFL has a DFS deal with DraftKings.

Live in-play betting

Ontario’s move to open up online gambling to private operators, coupled with the feds legalizing single-game wagering, will bring privately-run online sportsbook apps to the province. Live in-play, or in-game betting, is a big part of what these apps do. That gives you the chance to bet on live games at odds that change alongside the action. You can hedge bets, make up for some bad bets before a game, or simply increase your action and interest in any game with live betting.

For the most part, live betting involves betting on the same markets that are available before any game begins. However, live bets are placed at odds that are constantly changing, with the score, clock, and in-the-action circumstances factored in. Plus, different in-game props and period, quarter, and half markets are also available.

As you might infer, the lines move as fast as the game does. That means online sportsbook apps are really the only way to keep up. Live betting just doesn’t work any other way because you can’t get your bets down fast enough.

Ontario online gambling and sports betting law

Legal online gambling exists here in Ontario, but only through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s official internet gaming site, which is regulated by the province and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. It’s got slots and table games like Blackjack, Baccarat, Poker,  Roulette, and even offers lottery ticket sales online. Unfortunately, that does not include tickets for PROLINE OLG sports lottery parlay wagering, which can only be purchased at lottery retailers in Ontario.

The province has admitted the lack of competition and online sports betting options have helped lead to a situation where most online gambling and sports betting in Ontario takes place on unregulated grey market websites with no consumer protection and only limited responsible gaming measures. These sites are illegal in Ontario, but most Ontarians have no idea. That’s why, in the November 2020 Ontario Budget, the government gave the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) the responsibility to conduct, manage and regulate a new online gaming market in Ontario, through a newly created subsidiary. The province’s intention is to open this market up to private operators and establish a model for online gambling in Ontario that is legal, competitive, and safe.

Now that the federal government has moved forward with sports betting legislation that lifts the ban on single-game wagering across the country and gives each province the right to make its own decisions on the type of legal sports betting it wants, Ontario’s new online gambling market is poised to open up to private online and mobile sportsbooks, as well as online casinos.

What’s next?

In March 2021, the Ministry of the Attorney General and the Ministry of Finance launched public consultations on the development of Ontario’s new online gambling model.  In July 2021, a draft of Ontario sports betting rules was released and sent out for stakeholder input until Aug. 18, 2021.The province plans to use this input to finalize single-game wagering regulations, license privately-run online sportsbooks, and launch its new single-game sports wagering market before the end of 2021.

Why you should always bet with a licensed sportsbook

The province is going to break up the Ontario Lottery Corporation’s monopoly on sports betting. However, it’s not going to take away the government oversight and consumer protections it provides. Instead, Ontario is going to set up a separate entity under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to regulate sports betting. This entity will also license privately run online and mobile sportsbooks.

That means the provincial government is going to make sure these sportsbook operators are on the up and up. Plus, you’ll have a government body to turn to if something goes wrong. Illegal offshore online sportsbooks can’t, don’t, and won’t ever offer you anything like that. They’ll disappear with your money, delay withdrawals unnecessarily, and offer bonuses for you to cancel those withdrawals. Sound good? Actually, it’s just a way to keep you from your money until you ultimately lose it. The truth is, these are all things the provincial government will protect you against with licensed operators. Unfortunately, they can’t be there to do the same with offshore online sportsbooks.

Provincial government regulation means security for your money and personal information. Betting with illegal offshore online sportsbooks means you’re putting both at risk. Plus, the convoluted banking functions offshore companies employ to fool Canadian banks into doing business with them. This makes it hard to get your money in and out of these sportsbooks. Add it up and you’ll soon see that betting exclusively with private sportsbook operators licensed by the province is the safe, secure, and simply better option. After all, isn’t sports betting itself enough of a gamble.

US sports betting

The US Supreme Court lifted our closest neighbour’s federal ban on sports betting. That put the decision on legalizing it into the hands of state lawmakers back in 2018. It’s a lot like what the federal government has done in Canada in 2021. Some 25 states and the District of Columbia have since legalized sports betting. Close to half the US population now lives in states where single-game wagering is considered perfectly legal.

This includes three states that border Ontario: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York.

In Michigan, there are retail sportsbooks inside Detroit’s commercial casinos and tribal casinos across the state. Plus, Michigan’s first online and mobile sports betting operations went live in 2021. There are also online and mobile sportsbooks and retail sportsbooks inside commercial casinos and some off-track betting facilities in Pennsylvania. Plus, there are retail sportsbooks inside various commercial casinos and tribal casinos in Upstate New York and the state is finalizing how legal online and mobile sports will work in the Empire State in 2021.

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