A Coast-By-Coast Look At How Canada Bet The Grey Cup

A couple of Ontario bettors used the CFL championship game to cash big on parlays
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The Winnipeg Blue Bombers are now back-to-back Grey Cup champions after a thrilling 33-25 overtime win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the 108th Grey Cup on Sunday night.

Bettors were sent on a roller-coaster ride during the CFL’s championship game, which included dramatic twists and turns throughout. Tiger-Cats starting quarterback Dane Evans left the game with a neck injury in the second quarter, strong winds wreaked havoc on kickers and returners, some questionable coaching decisions were made in the fourth quarter, and Hamilton’s defense simply ran out of gas late, allowing the Bombers to crawl back into the game and eventually prevail.

The Bombers entered the game as -1.5 to -4.5 favorites depending on when and where you wagered in Canada, with most sportsbooks posting a total between 43.5 and 44.5. These lines kept bettors interested all night, as Hamilton threatened to pull off the upset, and the total remained in limbo until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Once all the bets on the Grey Cup were calculated, some of Canada‘s provincially run sportsbooks shared with US Bets how they fared following the nation’s biggest football game of the year, which drew significantly more interest from Canadian viewers than the NFL games on Sunday’s schedule.

Atlantic Lottery Corporation — the Maritime provinces

“Among our Pro-Line players, Winnipeg took in 73% of the handle on the moneyline and 71% for the spread [closed at +2.5],” ALC Manager of Sports Betting Scott Eagles said. “The over brought in 67% of the totals handle [closed at 43.5]. Atlantic Lottery posted winning margins on the game, with all point ranges being evenly split for wagers. We also sold a number of player performance props and most of those had even splits for handle. The one notable exception was passing yards for Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros, where almost 80% of our handle was on the over 239.5 passing yards. He finished with 240!”

Collaros earned Grey Cup MVP honors, despite posting relatively mediocre numbers. The former Tiger-Cats quarterback completed 65% of his passes while throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The ALC is the only legal sports betting option in the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“For special events like this, more than anything, we hope for an exciting game,” Eagles concluded.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation — Ontario

The OLG reported the most betting action in the history of the PROLINE and PROLINE+ brands, according to Tony Bitonti, director of external communications. OLG couldn’t provide specific financial details of the game, but did share some interesting betting information. Predictably, public bets placed with OLG reflected the fandom of the Tiger-Cats — who call Ontario home — when compared to the rest of Canada, which heavily backed Winnipeg.

“For the moneyline, tickets were split almost down the middle — Winnipeg 49%, Hamilton 51% — while there was slightly more money on Winnipeg — 55% to 45%,” Bitonti said. “However, with the average moneyline prices being around Winnipeg 1.65/Hamilton 2.22, we were actually slightly more exposed on a Hamilton win in this particular bet. Winnipeg was the preferred choice on spreads ranging from -1.5 to -3.5. Total tickets skewed Winnipeg 68%, Hamilton 32%, while the handle was Winnipeg 72%, Hamilton 28%. Players preferred the over, tickets and money both broke 66% to 34%.”

OLG provided a further breakdown, stating single bets accounted for 82% of its action on the game, and 32% of wagers were live bets. As far as big tickets cashing, one lucky bettor turned $800 into over $10,000 with a 12-team parlay, which included the Bombers winning (the other 11 legs were mostly huge NFL moneyline favorites). Another Ontario bettor turned $5 into $3,800 with some risky plays on a 10-team spread parlay, which also included Winnipeg.

PROLINE AND PROLINE + are the only legal betting avenues for bettors in Ontario, although an open market full of private operators is on the horizon in the province early next year.

British Columbia Lottery Corporation — PlayNow

BCLC’s PlayNow also reported heavy action on Winnipeg prior to kickoff. Bettors on Canada’s west coast didn’t have a local rooting interest in this game with the British Columbia Lions missing the playoffs, so they appeared to be on the favorite. PlayNow seems to have had the most lopsided handle on the Bombers in comparison to Ontario and Atlantic Canada’s numbers:

This year’s Grey Cup saw a 260% increase in the number of bets and a 480% increase in the amount of money wagered compared to the 2019 Grey Cup, according to Matt Lee from BCLC media relations.

“The popularity of this year’s Grey Cup on PlayNow.com is no surprise, given PlayNow.com saw a record-breaking number of bets on the CFL this season,” Lee added. “The number of CFL bets on PlayNow.com in 2021 increased by approximately 35% compared to the 2019 season, and the amount of money wagered increased by approximately 149%.”

Looking back on the best bets of the CFL season

Futures odds

At the start of the season, the Tiger-Cats were pegged by PlayNow as the odds-on favorite to win the Grey Cup. Hampered by injuries much of the year, Hamilton quickly tumbled down the futures odds, while Winnipeg dominated the league, posting a league-best 11-3 regular season record. In retrospect, these oddsmakers handicapped their futures odds accurately, but perhaps the Toronto Argonauts, who finished with the best record in the Eastern Conference, were slightly undervalued.

Best team against the spread

The Calgary Stampeders went 9-5 ATS and 8-6 straight up.

Best over team

The Lions posted a 9-5 O/U record.

Best under team

Hamilton went 4-10 O/U.

Photo: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY

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