Record-Breaking Bets: Major Sporting Events Shatter Canadian Betting Records

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Recent months and years have seen sportsbooks in Canada inundated with a flurry of sports betting interest as the largest events have been met with record-breaking number and value of wagers, smashing benchmarks seemingly on a monthly basis.

The explosion in sports wagering activity demonstrates not only a surging appetite for sports betting among Canadians but the ever-changing landscape of legal sports wagering in Canada — the legalization of single-event sports betting in August 2021 saw the industry flip on its head as the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and international soccer tournaments saw betting records fall by the wayside north of the border.

Sports Betting Surge

Several factors have driven the surge in sports betting in Canada — none more significant than the legalization of single-event sports betting.

The legislation was massively significant in Canada’s sports betting legal framework as bettors were finally able to wager on individual games or events, rather than the parlay betting that was formerly allowed requiring bettors to correctly predict the outcomes of multiple events. Single-event betting provided a much simpler format that introduced the sports betting industry in Canada to a new wave of Canadians who for the first time were able to combine their luck with their sports expertise.

The growth of sports betting in Canada can also be heavily attributed to technological advancements in betting platforms. Betting apps and online sportsbooks are now much safer, easier to use and more accessible, creating a scenario where Canadians can place bets with a few swipes of a smartphone or clicks of a mouse. A highly-competitive field of betting providers have also resulted in sharper odds, more desirable betting options and aggressive promotions and bonuses that have drawn a flood of Canadian bettors to the wagering world.

The Starting Gates

The sports betting canada action has taken the sports wagering business in the country from an older era, when viewers watched games from the sidelines, literally, to an era of unprecedented viewer engagement and excitement.

By opening sports betting up to fans Canada has turned the country into a huge sportsbook, betting on the sporting activities of its favorite teams and athletes. Not only can viewers pull for their team, now, they can also play an active role in predicting the outcome of their games, adding an entirely new sports betting layer of engagement that has pumped up viewership numbers and made the sports experience even more dynamic and interactive.

This has become evident in record-breaking betting number for such major international sporting events as the FIFA World Cup and the Olympics when Canada bettors poured money through the betting windows, while they rooted for their national athletes and teams, collectively adding up to eye-popping revenues and even huger feelings of national pride and unity among Canadian sports fans.

Legalization Impacts

The ascension of legal single-event sports betting in the United States has the potential to further expand the industry in Canada. Currently, sports gambling in Canada is limited to parlay bets, which require individuals to predict the outcome of multiple games correctly; an error on just one outcome means that bettor loses everything.

Bill C-218 has already passed the House of Commons in Canada, and if it advances through the Senate and subsequently secures Royal Assent, it would legalize single-event sports betting north of the 49th parallel. The Canadian Gaming Association estimates that the country’s sports betting market is worth almost $14 billion annually.

“When the US took down PASPA in 2018, a lot of us, myself included, expected neighboring Canada to soon follow suit with something similar,” Allred said. “Obviously, it didn’t happen as quickly as some of us had hoped, and with all the other goings-on in the world as of late, it almost flew under the radar. But when we look at the big picture, we have a Congress teetering on the edge of legalizing single-game sports betting, and we have Canada’s House of Commons already on board the way I see it, this moves America one step closer to legal sports betting, and it moves Canadian single-game parlay into the rearview.”

Market Expansion

The advent of single-game sports betting in the United States will likely expedite the process in Canada, considering the cross-border competition and subsequent lost revenue.

However, it’s not just U.S. lawmakers that are responsible for the shift in the Canadian market. It was recently reported that both BetMGM and theScore have launched operations in Canada. theScore has an online casino and sportsbook in the market and their app has a strong presence there. Meanwhile, BetMGM recently secured OMERS growth equity and has earmarked some to expand into Canada.

“Look, there’s obviously a bunch of logical and sound reasons for the House of Commons to pass C-218 as other nations relax sports betting laws,” said Dan Kilbridge, a sports analyst and staff writer for Bookies.com. “For the most part, it’s a revenue and business decision, no different than the US. If sports betting is becoming legal in the US, it’s happening in Canada, and those parlay bets are ‘more fun’ for a lot of people than they were a few years ago.”

There’s also the issue of fan engagement and an assumed decline in gaming activity once sports return to normal, and the rest of the world invests millions in marketing, analytics, and other technology to serve bettors around the world. single-game betting in Canada would add a new dynamic to an alt-sports market that has seen major revenue drops lately.

“Sports bettors aren’t the only ones ready to get back to business,” Allred said. “Everyone from betting operators to teams and leagues is ready to reap what will very likely be millions in new revenue. Especially in the US, where the industry so far has been hurt by a drop in legal wagers the past few years.”

Future Prospects

That’s not even considering the robust, but relatively quiet sports betting market that currently exists in Canada. As Canada moves closer to legal single-sports betting, you can expect a land grab in every sports league in that country to either amend its rules and partnerships with leagues to scan all betting markets in the Great White North.

On Wednesday, the US Open’s relationship with FanDuel was announced. “We were unbelievably respected and recognized globally as the US Open partners with the world’s leading sportsbook and one of the world’s best tennis tournaments,” said Matt King, CEO of FanDuel, “even in the nation with almost nowhere to wager legally. That’s American sports betting now.”

The rise in sports betting is having its predictable impact on a Canadian sports betting market that has been a tale of reinvention and challenge. This is a sector that has seen an at times ruthless land grab for market share that has led to innovation that likely outkick the coverage of the desired space of the sports bettor as there has been an increasing stratification of the U.S. sports wagering experience, both as close to the basket as within the law and via a proliferation of offshore sites. Where it has done well, sports betting ascendance has seen it turbocharge interest and action within the Canadian sports betting sector and with it have come economic benefits. Job creation has enjoyed an uptick (running a sharp staff is roughly the cost of Les Misérables), as have increased tax revenues and the backstopping of social and community programs through gaming funds.

Doing It Right, Part Deux

The rise of sports betting has also shined another bright light on the need to put in place robust regulatory frameworks to allow the responsible use of sports wagering in Canada. Of course, that is news to none in Canada’s government and its myriad regulatory bodies. Among the tools it has employed — and no doubt continues to create — are setting betting limits, creating public and responsible gambling awareness campaigns, and providing services for support of those affected by issues of gambling.

Looking Ahead

The near future of sports betting in Canada looks bright and full of pluck (with minor apologies to Drew Peterson), but also one that will find itself on the Armageddon-like racing paths of hyper-innovation and regulatory oversight. Among the technological advances that will continue to be embedded in the onboarding process of betting will be immersive experiences built off the VR and AR platforms, as well as endless other technology tools. The mobile and desktop interfaces will also become cleaner, but it will promo-version the heck out of opportunities for video, audio, and data integration. The market share and revenue opportunities will send a bat signal up for the battle to be fought by the domestic operators as they look to enjoy the fastest path to the revenue — and perhaps the most important leg of the future of a made-in-Canada business model.

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When it’s all said and done, the billions of bets placed at The Big Game, March Madness, the NBA Finals, and the World Cup make one thing clear: Canada’s sports culture and sports betting landscape are in dynamic flux.

How regulators navigate these new waters is the ultimate balancing test. How much are they willing to trade potential economic growth against the possible commercial exploitation of at-risk publics?

How high that balancing scale goes — and how long it stays there — will determine whether Canada is able to remain a world leader in the space of regulated sports betting and add excitement to an industry that is already dynamic and constantly changing. And that’s something not all off-shore sportsbooks can say.

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