The CFL can’t really compete with the NFL in terms of viewership, attendance, popularity, and the size of the betting markets—even here north of the border. But the local nature of Canadian Football means Canadians have unique access to the information you can use to bet the CFL wisely.
CFL betting is full of opportunities for Canadians, especially with legal single-game betting now changing the game for Canadian sports bettors.
The CFL plays a 21-week regular season from June through to the end of October. Playoffs will start in November and the 108th Grey Cup game will be played on Nov. 21, 2021, in Hamilton, Ontario. Get ready to bet on all that CFL action with the key info below.
Basics of CFL betting
There are a variety of ways you can bet on the CFL and CFL games. Here’s a look at the basics:
|CFL Game Betting||The Bet||The Payout||Typical Conditions|
|Point Spread||Bet that one team will beat another with a point spread set by oddsmakers factored into the final score||Pays out currently posted odds at the time you place the bet||Payout odds are usually even for both sides|
|Moneyline||Bet that one team will beat another straight up||Pays out currently posted odds at the time you place the bet||Payout odds are positive for underdogs and negative for favorites|
|Totals||Bet that the total combined final score of a game will be over or under a line set by oddsmakers||Pays out currently posted odds at the time you place the bet||Payout odds are usually even for both sides|
Props & futures
Most CFL props surround game and season statistics. That means betting on a player or team’s ability to achieve specific statistical milestones.
An example of a player prop is a bet on a running back to rush for over, or under, a certain number of yards in a game, or a quarterback to throw more, or less, than a certain number of TD passes in a game.
Team props might include bets on team point totals or other offensive and defensive statistics.
CFL futures may include bets on a team to make the playoffs, post more or less than a certain number of regular-season wins, win its division, or win the Grey Cup. You may also be able to bet CFL player futures. These allow you to bet on a player achieving specific statistical milestones for an entire season or winning a CFL season-long award like Most Outstanding Player.
In-game CFL betting is all about betting in the middle of a CFL game at odds that change with the action. It ups the excitement level, but it all happens pretty fast. You bet on mostly the same lines available before the game, but now the odds change on the fly. Plus, there are quarter-by-quarter, half-by-half, and even more CFL prop lines available.
Just remember, the odds change fast, alongside the score, possession, down, and distance, making mobile sports betting apps, like the DraftKings app and FanDuel app, the only way you can try to keep up.
CFL Playoffs & Grey Cup betting
The top three teams in each of the CFL’s two divisions qualify for the CFL postseason. However, a fourth-place team in one division may qualify over the third-place team in the other if they have a better regular-season record.
Both first-place teams get a bye to the Divisional Finals. That leaves four teams facing off in two Division Semifinals with the winners moving on to face the first-place teams in the Divisional Finals. Divisional Final winners then face off for the title in the Grey Cup Final.
The CFL playoffs last just three weeks in total. You can bet on individual games once the matchups are set, or a team to win its Division or the Grey Cup in futures markets all year long.
Single-game CFL betting vs. lottery parlay betting
If you can bet on sports where you live, it’s a good bet it has long been limited to parlay betting with the provincial lottery at odds that aren’t even close to the true odds. You have to string together multiple winners and accept unfair odds.
Legal single-game betting changes all that and the federal government gave provinces the right to launch it in June 2021. That means revised provincial lottery sports betting products and privately run online sportsbooks and sportsbook apps are about to hit the market offering fair odds on every single CFL game. Futures betting, where you can bet on your favorite players and on who you think will win the next Grey Cup Final, just to name a couple, will also go live. And the odds will all be a lot closer to the true odds than they ever have been with CFL parlays.
Legal single-game betting may also mean an end to the provincial lottery monopoly on sports betting. Ultimately, that means more options for CFL betting and better odds for all.
Teams of the Canadian Football League
The CFL is now a nine-team league featuring an East and a West Division. Here’s a look at the nine CFL franchises and at least one reason you might want to bet on each one:
Hamilton Tiger-Cats (East)
- Where: Hamilton, Ontario
- Home Field: Tim Hortons Field (24,000 capacity)
- Why Bet On The Cats: Finished the 2019 regular season with a franchise-best 15–3 record. Lost in Grey Cup Final to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Montreal Alouettes (East)
- Where: Montreal, Québec
- Home Field: Percival Molson Memorial Stadium (23,420 capacity)
- Why Bet On Montreal: Finished second in the East in 2019 with a 10–8 record. Lost East Semi-Final to the Edmonton Eskimos.
Ottawa Redblacks (East)
- Where: Ottawa, Ontario
- Home Field: TD Place Stadium (24,000 capacity)
- Why Bet On Ottawa: Until 2019, the Redblacks had made the postseason every year since the team launched in 2014. The 2019 Redblacks’ Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Defensive Player, Avery Williams re-signed with the team in 2021.
Toronto Argonauts (East)
- Where: Toronto, Ontario
- Home Field: BMO Field (25,000 capacity)
- Why Bet On The Argos: They’ve only won four games in each of the past two CFL seasons, but the Argos have won a record 17 Grey Cups.
BC Lions (West)
- Where: Vancouver, BC
- Home Field: BC Place (54,320 capacity)
- Why Bet On BC: The Lions only won five games and missed the playoffs in 2019. However, they still hold the second-longest playoff streak in CFL history, having made the playoffs every year from 1997 through 2016.
Calgary Stampeders (West)
- Where: Calgary, Alberta
- Home Field: McMahon Stadium (35,400 capacity)
- Why Bet On The Stamps: Calgary won 12 games in 2019 before a loss in the first round of the playoffs. The team is currently on a franchise-record 15-year playoff streak.
Edmonton Football Team (West)
- Where: Edmonton, Alberta
- Home Field: The Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium (56,302 capacity)
- Why Bet On Edmonton: Won eight games and qualified for the playoffs in 2019, losing to Hamilton in the East Final. Second overall to Toronto (17) with 14 Grey Cup wins in franchise history. The team had changed its name from the Edmonton Eskimos to Edmonton Football Team.
Saskatchewan Roughriders (West)
- Where: Regina, Saskatchewan
- Home Field: Mosaic Stadium (33,350 capacity)
- Why Bet On The Riders: Won 13 games and finished first in the West Division in 2019 for only the second time since the 1970s. Lost in the West Final to the eventual Grey Cup Champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers by just a touchdown.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers (West)
- Where: Winnipeg, Manitoba
- Home Field: IG Field (33,234 capacity)
- Why Bet On The Bombers: Won the 2019 Grey Cup ending the longest Grey Cup drought in the league (Since 1990).
CFL betting partnerships, CFL + XFL Deal
DraftKings signed a deal with the CFL and started offering and promoting CFL daily fantasy sports contests in 2016.
Canadian facing online sportsbook and casino BET99.net signed a three-year partnership deal with the Montreal Alouettes in 2021. The BET99.net logo will now appear on the Alouettes jerseys.
Most recently the CFL and XFL announced a partnership that could include everything from crossover league games to an Interleague championship. If so, expect the betting partnerships and betting opportunities to multiply even further.
Best CFL bets for beginners
If you’re new to CFL betting, the best CFL betting tip is to stick to the basics. Moneyline betting is as basic as it gets. All you have to do is pick which team you think will win a game and book a bet at the currently posted odds.
You can also get a little more advanced, but still keep it fairly basic, by combining two or more moneyline bets in a parlay. Just pick two or more teams to win and put them together in a parlay. Get it right and you’ll earn even more than if you bet on the teams individually.
That means you can make small bets and still win big. Small bets are also a good idea if you’re new to the CFL, or CFL betting. The trick with parlays is you have to win every game. Therefore, limiting the size of your CFL parlays to just a few games is also a good idea.
Why should you bet CFL over NFL?
You’re in Canada, so you should probably be supporting a homegrown Canadian football league. After all, what has the NFL ever done for Canada? CFL teams are playing football where you live. That means it’s a local game and your local newspapers and local TV stations are covering those teams, giving you all the inside information you need to successfully bet on the league.
The rule differences between the NFL and CFL also make the CFL a high-flying, wide-open, and pass-heavy brand of football. That’s not only more fun to watch than the NFL, it’s more fun to bet on as well. The CFL is especially more fun to bet on live, as the odds fly around as fast as the ball does in Canadian football’s high-intensity and high-scoring games. For more comparison between the two, check our dedicated page here:
Why stick to legal sportsbooks for CFL betting in Canada
Provincial lottery corporations across the country are adopting legalized single-game wagering. That means they’re regulating it too, ensuring all sportsbook operators are legitimate, and offering you a government body to turn to if you run into some situation that doesn’t seem to be right.
Illegal and offshore online sportsbooks don’t do anything like that. Betting with a sportsbook like that is like doubling the risk of your bets. They could disappear with your cash anytime and you’ll have no recourse to get it back.
Legal and regulated sportsbooks, whether they’re run by a provincial lottery corporation or private operator, will offer competitive lines, bonuses and promotions, and real consumer protections provided by provincial regulators. They’re already live in some, and once they come to your province, you’ll have no reason to bet on the CFL with those illegal offshore online sportsbooks ever again.
Vegas sportsbook odds vs CDN sportsbook odds
Canadian sports betting operators are going to post the same CFL game lines that Las Vegas sportsbooks do. However, they might not be the same by kickoff. That’s because betting patterns change things locally, but not across the board.
Sportsbooks set lines to draw an equal amount of betting to each side. That way, they can make a profit from the vig, or the difference between what losing bets lose and winning bets pay. If more money is bet on one side, they move the line to try to even things out again. That way, they don’t have to sweat the actual outcome.
However, only the sportsbook where that money is bet moves that line. More local interest in a CFL team can translate into more local betting and a greater chance a CFL line will change at a local sportsbook and not in Vegas.
How to bet on the CFL online in Canada
Get started betting on the CFL at Canadian online and mobile sportsbooks by following these three simple steps:
- Sign up for an account with any legal Canadian online and mobile sportsbook you like. Just click on that sportsbook’s link on PlayCanada to get to its website. You can sign up there or download and install the mobile app and do it there. You should also take note of any promo or bonus code for that sportsbook. You’ll find that here on PlayCanada and entering there will ensure you get the best sign-up bonus you can at your CFL betting site of choice.
- Deposit money into your account to bet with by clicking on the ‘Cashier’ tab on the website or mobile app and choosing a deposit method that suits you. Everything from credit and debit cards, to online banking, third-party payment processors and Interac should be available.
- Find the CFL betting market on Canadian online and mobile sportsbooks under a ‘Football’, or ‘CFL,’ tab on the website and app where you can locate all the CFL betting markets. Just click on any bet you like to create a betslip and place your CFL bet.
CFL betting at retail sportsbooks
There were no retail sportsbooks in Canada taking bets on the CFL previously, unless you consider sports lounges and cashier cages inside some Canadian casinos that take provincial lottery sports parlay bets retail sportsbooks. Either way, this is something that will soon become a reality ion Canada thanks to the federal government lifting its ban on single-game wagering across the country and givong provinces the right to regulate it how they see fit.
Sportsbook rules for betting on CFL
Check with the sportsbook you plan on betting with to see how they handle specific CFL betting situations. Most follow these basic football betting rules:
- Games after considered official if ended after 55 minutes for any reason, but not before that.
- Totals bets, full game bets, and second-half bets include overtime.
- Bets only stand on postponed games played within 72 hours at the same venue.
- No push on Point Spread bets or Totals bets with a half-point.
The legend of Haralabos Voulgaris and CFL betting
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Haralabos Voulgaris may be the world’s most successful sports bettor and professional gambler. He parlayed his success betting on the NBA into a job as director of quantitative research and development for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
According to ESPN, Voulgaris got his start betting on sports while enrolled at the University of Manitoba and working as a skycap at Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. His first bets were on NBA and CFL games.
Why the CFL? Because at the time, Voulgaris had more access to local information about the CFL than the books he bet with. That meant he could easily identify and exploit mistakes with the lines.
Then, Voulgaris built a massive bankroll exploiting inaccurate second-half NBA totals lines.
5 CFL QBs that went on to star in NFL
The CFL may be considered the minor leagues compared to the NFL. However, several players have moved up to the NFL majors from the CFL minors and had successful careers. The CFL’s pass-heavy game has proven to be a great training ground for the NFL. Here’s a look at the top five CFL quarterbacks that went on to star in the NFL:
- Jeff Garcia: Garcia started his pro football career with the Calgary Stampeders as an undrafted free agent. He went on to become a four-time CFL All-Star before signing with the San Francisco 49ers in 1999. In the NFL, he racked up four NFL Pro Bowl selections. Garcia also played for the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Doug Flutie: Flutie was a star NCAA quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy at Boston College, but was considered too small to play in the NFL. He started his pro football career with the USFL’s New Jersey Generals instead but eventually made it back to the NFL in the late 1980s. In 1990, he went to the CFL and by 1992 he had led the Calgary Stampeders to a Grey Cup win. He also led the Toronto Argonauts to back-to-back Grey Cup victories in 1996 and 1997. All told, Flutie won CFL Most Outstanding Player a record six times and Grey Cup MVP three times. He went back to the NFL in 1998. Flutie went to the Pro Bowl and won NFL Comeback Player of the Year as a Buffalo Bill. He also played for the San Diego Chargers and New England Patriots before retiring in 2005.
- Joe Kapp: Kapp is the only player ever to have played quarterback in the Super Bowl, Rose Bowl, and the Grey Cup. He played for the Calgary Stampeders from 1959 to 1960, then the BC Lions from 1961 to 1966, winning the 1964 Grey Cup. In the NFL, he played for the Minnesota Vikings from 1967 to 1969 and the Boston Patriots in 1970. Kapp won the 1969 NFL Championship Game with the Vikings, then lost Super Bowl IV in New Orleans against the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs.
- Joe Theismann: Theismann is a Washington Redskins legend who quarterbacked the team to their first Super Bowl win in 1982. He took them to the Super Bowl again in 1983, but Washington lost. Theismann was a two-time Pro Bowler and 1983 NFL MVP. However, he may be best remembered for the career-ending injury he suffered on a Lawrence Taylor sack that broke his leg on national TV. Before any of that, Theismann led the Toronto Argonauts to the Grey Cup Final in his rookie CFL season. He was also a two-time CFL All-Star in three CFL seasons.
- Warren Moon: Moon won five consecutive Grey Cups in his first five years as an Edmonton Eskimo. He played a sixth year and left the CFL as the all-time passing yards leader, two-time Grey Cup MVP, and 1983 CFL MVP. He signed with the Houston Oilers in 1984 and played ten years for the team, posting the Oilers record for wins as a starting quarterback. Moon played seven more seasons with various other teams, made nine Pro Bowls, was named a first-team All-Pro once and made the playoffs seven times. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.