The sports-crazed Ontario market has finally gotten what it deserves – a full and all-encompassing legal online sports betting marketplace. After years of promises, legal wrangling, and legislative stunts, Ontario finally got the green light to expand upon its legal sports betting scene on August 27, 2021, when the Canadian government passed Bill C-218. The legislation paved the way for single-game betting in the province and will facilitate an overall modernization of a system that not only Ontario, but all of Canada had outgrown.
Best Ontario Sports Betting Apps
Canada has long been a sporting nation – rabid about their teams and staunch supporters of all Canadian-based athletic programs. The hub of the sporting activity in Canada has been and will continue to be Ontario, where not only 40% of the Canadian population lives but also where some of the country’s most iconic sports franchises call home.
It didn’t take long after the announcement of Bill C-218 for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which had a virtual monopoly over the Ontario casino scene, to add single-game wagering to its existing platform, Proline Plus. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. On April 4, 2022, Ontario officially launched its brand new iGaming market, featuring brandname operators such as FanDuel, Caesars, and BetRivers – forever changing the sports betting landscape up North. From that date forward, players located within the province can freely place their action with any licensed operator of their choosing! For the first time ever, bettors in Ontario are no longer restricted to using government-owned sites like the aforementioned ProLine+.
The history of sports betting in Ontario
Sports betting in Ontario isn’t exactly a new thing. Citizens in Canada’s most populous province have been able to bet on sports for decades. Proline, which is run by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission has been around since 1992 and has offered limited online sports wagering since 2000.
Before August 2021, Canada’s legal sports betting consisted of parlay bets only. That means that citizens were forced to bet on multiple games at a time. There was no such thing in Ontario as betting on the Super Bowl only or just Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. Bettors had to string together 3 or more individual bets to place one singular sports bet. There were still offshore single-bet online wagering options available and a few tribal-authorized online sportsbooks operating in a legal gray area, but they weren’t regulated by the province and took tax dollars out of the hands of the Ontario government.
C-218 and the legalization of sports betting in Canada
Bill C-218 started gaining steam in Canada when it was introduced in the House in February 2021. It eventually passed by a 57-20 margin in the House of Commons on June 23, 2021, and was signed into law on August 27, 2021. The legislation not only allows each province to determine their own sports betting future, it also did away with the archaic parlay model and modernized Canada’s wagering industry to keep up with other countries around the world – particularly the United States.
In the end, C-218 was simply the rewriting of one line in Canada’s Criminal Code to allow for individual provinces to decide what sports betting laws are best for their jurisdiction and to regulate wagering platforms as they see fit. It ultimately will lead to licensing of sportsbooks and a broad menu of wagering options for Canadian bettors, whether it be on one game at a time or Canada’s traditional parlay betting platform.
Bill C-218 was welcomed by all four major North American sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL) which have all been willing participants in the exploding US legal sports betting scene. The CFL (Canadian Football League), the Canadian Olympic Committee, the provincial lotteries that operate around the country, and most elected officials in Canada also supported the legislation.
Proline Plus in Ontario
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. was quick to the legal online sports betting party with their Proline Plus betting platform. It has been a mainstay in the Ontario gambling market since 1992 and has had an online wagering presence in the province since 2000. Proline+, the online version of their expanded online sportsbook, was able to add single-game wagering soon after the Canadian government passed Bill C-218 – just before the bigger names began to arrive.
Proline+ is a tad underwhelming when compared with some of its competition that is currently taking over Ontario’s new iGaming market. FanDuel and Caesars, two companies that recently began offering their products in the province, show just how underdeveloped the Proline+ brand is in comparison. As a lottery model, similar to the ones that have underwhelmed in Oregon and Washington DC, Proline+ has been panned for its uncompetitive odds, its relatively short menu of sports to wager on, and its incentives, which will surely be dwarfed now that the competition has arrived.
Proline+ is currently best described as a serviceable sportsbook that has given bettors in Ontario a taste of what is to come about in their sports wagering industry. The platform is expected to improve its offerings and pricing with FanDuel, PointsBet, BetMGM, and Caesars, among others, recently entering the Ontario scene.
While its menu of sports is not quite at the level of its US counterparts, Proline+ does offer wagers on the main North American sports. Hockey, football, baseball, basketball, MMA, and soccer are a few of the sports offered, with many more likely on the way with the maturation of the site.
Ontario online sportsbooks
As the home to 40% of Canada’s population (about 15 million residents), Ontario is expected to see all of the major players in the U.S. market as well as some global behemoths eventually enter their expanding market. On the morning of the April 4 launch date, 13 different sportsbook brands went live as officially licensed operators in Ontario:
|Sportsbook||Canada Website||AGCO Approved?||Launch Date|
|PointsBet||PointsBet.ca||April 4, 2022|
|FanDuel||FanDuel.com/Canada||April 4, 2022|
|theScore Bet||theScore.bet||April 4, 2022|
|Caesars||Sportsbook.Caesars.com||April 4, 2022|
|BetMGM||Sports.on.BetMGM.ca||April 4, 2022|
|bet365||on.Bet365.ca||April 4, 2022|
|BetRivers||BetRivers.ca||April 4, 2022|
|888sport||888sport.ca||April 4, 2022|
|Unibet||on.Unibet.ca||April 4, 2022|
|Coolbet||Coolbet.ca||April 4, 2022|
|Rivalry||Rivalry.com||April 4, 2022|
|LeoVegas||LeoVegas.com||April 4, 2022|
|Royal Panda||Royal Panda||April 4, 2022|
As the only Canadian-based U.S. sportsbook on the list, theScore Bet is arguably the most interesting name on the list of high-end sportsbooks to recently launch in Ontario. theScore first launched in Canada back in 2012 and forged its way into the U.S. as a ready-for-market statistics and news website for sports fans. theScore Bet is live in four U.S. states on top of Ontario, operating as a middling sports betting brand in some of the biggest markets south of the border.
Based on its brand recognition and the legalization of single-game wagering in Ontario, theScore Bet was acquired by Penn National on October 19, 2021, for $2 billion. Between Penn National’s backing, theScore’s brand recognition, and its early arrival as one of the first brands to launch on April 4, 2022, theScoreBet already holds a major advantage in the young Ontario market.
Previously a major DFS provider in Canada, FanDuel was also among the first of the major players to go live in Ontario on April 4, 2022. Since launching in the United States in 2009, FanDuel has been a major force in the legal sports betting industry. FanDuel brings a slick and pleasing, professional, and well-established platform to Canada. As one of the top-rated sports betting platforms anywhere in the world, FanDuel is quickly going to become a crowd favorite up North.
The Australian-based sportsbook was among the first brands to announce their official launch in Ontario just moments after the clocks turned on April 4, 2022, along with theScore Bet and FanDuel. PointsBet was one of the first private sportsbooks to take a legal wager in Canada, accepting a $500 two-team parlay less than one minute after going live in the province. The bet failed to cash, as North Carolina fell in the NCAA Tournament Championship Game later that night.
MGM is one of the most recognizable names in the global gambling industry, from the U.S. to Asia to the European markets. It’s impressive, easy-to-use, visually stimulating, and an all-encompassing online product that Canadian bettors are going to love. Just ask the great Wayne Gretzky, one of BetMGM’s incredible brand ambassadors! BetMGM joined the Ontario iGaming market at its first possible chance, going live on the morning of April 4, 2022. On top of its sportsbook, the brand also brings its world-class iCasino and poker products to the North.
One of the biggest and most aggressive sportsbooks globally, Caesars is now carrying its immense expansion plans into the Ontario market. Since taking over William Hill’s US entities in early 2021, Caesars hasn’t been shy about its marketing, customer acquisition, and market-dominance goals. The brand made sure to be one of the first out of the gate to launch, going live on Ontario’s April 4th opening day.
British-based bet365 has already made a name for itself in Canada thanks to its gray market operations over the years, however all of that went out the window on April 4, 2022. As a part of their transition into the regulated market, bet365 was forced to close any pending or unsettled wagers in existing gray market accounts. All gray market bet365 accounts no longer work in Ontario and active users will be required to sign up for a new account on the regulated server. Players can now legally use bet365’s stellar product up North, featuring player props, Same Game Parlays, and endless other action!
It’s no surprise that this popular Rush Street Interactive product got out early in Ontario. Following its launch in New York back in January 2022, BetRivers’ big year continued as they were one of the first major U.S. brands to touch down in the Great White North on April 4. Equipped with its loaded sportsbook complimented by an underrated online casino, BetRivers is poised to take Ontario by storm.
While one of the bigger bookmaking names overseas, 888sport did not experience the same level of success when it was live in the United States from 2018-2021. The brand officially announced it would no longer be offering any sports betting opportunities in the U.S. as of December 15, 2021, as its parent company opted to roll with the recognizable SI Sportsbook branding instead. 888 will keep its original branding for any ventures up North however, as the company received approval from the AGCO to launch its 888sport, 888casino, and 888poker platforms in Ontario. All three platforms went live in the province on April 4, 2022.
The Kindred Group’s mobile betting arm has yet to make a big splash in North America, but they hope all of that will change very soon. Unibet went live in Ontario on April 4, 2022, bringing both its sportsbook and online casino to the newly regulated market. Offering competitive odds, live dealer options, and tons of promotions, Unibet should be able to carve out a success run up North.
Founded in Europe in 2016, Coolbet has been serving Canadian bettors on the gray market for quite a few years now. The self-titled “most transparent sportsbook in the world” was finally able to transition into a regulated market once Ontario flipped the switch on April 4, and quickly lived up to its name right out of the gate. While other gray market books were forced to close/void any pending or unsettled wagers, Coolbet went ahead and paid out or honored any wagers that were close to cashing. By starting off on the right foot with its customer base, Coolbet should be on the fast track to seeing major success in a market it was already familiar with.
One of the biggest esports betting hubs in the world, Canada-based Rivalry made sure to plant its flag in Ontario as soon as possible. The brand originated in Toronto in 2016, making it one of the few Canadian companies to roll out iGaming services in the province. Their website is fully loaded with an extensive esports betting menu, a traditional sportsbook, and ‘Rushlane’, the company’s very own online racing game that allows up to 24 real players to compete for cash!
This Swedish mobile gaming provider was formed in 2011 and has been offering casino and sports betting opportunities throughout Europe ever since. Formerly operating under Canada’s gray market, LeoVegas is already one of the more notable online casino brands in the country, making this transition a no-brainer. After receiving approval from the AGCO, LeoVegas went live on April 4, 2022, bringing both its sportsbook and iCasino to Ontario’s newly regulated market.
Originally founded by a company called Royal Panda Limited, the Royal Panda brand was bought out by LeoVegas in 2017. Much like its counterpart, Royal Panda’s services were also previously available to Canadian bettors on the gray market. Powered by Kambi, Royal Panda brings a dual-threat to the table with its incredible sportsbook accompanied by its world-class online casino.
Safety of online sports betting in Ontario
For newcomers to online sports betting, one of the main questions is the safety of the wagering sites. Rest assured, any online sportsbook that is approved to operate in Ontario is vetted, tested, and rubber stamped by the provincial government. You should have no concerns about trusting one of the available brands with your bankroll and action.
Ontario-based professional sports teams
Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)
Undoubtedly Ontario’s most iconic sports franchise, the Leafs have been a fixture in Toronto since 1917 and have a serious following everywhere they go – from Florida to LA to other provinces across Canada. The Leafs should be the focus of every sportsbook operating in the province, especially with the yearly Stanley Cup aspirations the Leafs have.
Ottawa Senators (NHL)
The Sens are a small market team in the NHL but still will have a strong base of bettors behind them. Despite not enjoying elite status, the Senators will likely gain some attention from Ontario bettors and sportsbooks. Hockey is the dominant sport in Canada, making the Senators a big draw up North regardless of their position in the standings.
Toronto Raptors (NBA)
The Raptors are “Canada’s NBA Team” and with basketball being the second-most bet on sport in Canada, the team should bring in a lot of action. From their 1995 birth to their 2019 NBA Championship, the Raptors have captured the attention of Canadians nationwide. You could make an argument that the Toronto Raptors are currently the most popular Canadian pro sports franchise with their near universal acceptance across the country.
Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)
As the only Canadian MLB franchise, the Jays have an enormous fanbase not only in Ontario but all across Canada. The team cemented its status as an iconic Canadian and Ontario franchise by winning the 1992 and 1993 World Series. They will be a huge draw for sportsbooks thanks to their incredible profile in Canada, the fact that they have a competitive squad, and the fact that they play 162 games per year.
Toronto FC (MLS)
Last but not least is Toronto FC. This MLS upstart has had a tremendous amount of success in its short history, even winning an MLS Cup championship in 2017. Like many MLS teams, Toronto FC has a small group of fierce supporters, regularly drawing 20,000+ fans to its home games. Betting on the team may not be as heavy as the other teams, but MLS is certainly on the rise and sports betting will be undoubtedly connected to its continued growth as a sports league.
United States-based teams
Believe it or not, Canadians love NFL football almost as much as their American neighbors. Many Ontarians root for the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions due to the two cities’ close proximity to Ontario. That said, Ontarians support many different NFL teams, including the Steelers, Vikings, and Cowboys – among many others. Generally speaking, Ontarians picking an American sports team to root for is limited to the NFL due to the absence of a Canadian team, though all the major U.S. sports events, including college sports, are broadcasted in Canada.
How to access the Ontario legal online sports betting market
With the expansion of Ontario’s legal online sports betting industry has come increased scrutiny about regulating and policing the industry. Assuming that you are 19 years of age or older and are within the Ontario provincial borders, you will be able to access the province’s online sports betting platform.
Typical personal information such as your name, address, email address, street address, postal code, and date of birth will be required during the sign-up procedures for each of the province’s sportsbooks. A username and password will have to be created before you accept the terms and conditions of the sportsbook you are signing up for. It may be concerning to give a big company your personal information, but sportsbooks globally have developed air-tight encryption systems that have made their sites safe.
Betting in Ontario
Prior to the April 4 launch, Ontario was already home to a pretty robust gambling scene. Along with provincial lotteries that have offered parlay betting in the past as well as limited online casino options, some notable service providers already have a presence in the Ontario market in the form of retail casinos. They include:
Caesars Windsor, just across the river from Detroit, has been an important draw in the Ontario market since 1994 and operates under the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission umbrella and with a licensing agreement with Caesars. The retail casino offers table games, 2500+ slot machines, and everything you would expect from a Vegas-style casino… except for sports betting, which is eventually expected to become a part of Caesars Windsor’s offerings. The Casino draws from Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, and a few other Northern U.S. states and boasts over 6 million visitors per year.
Located in the tourist hub of Niagara Falls, Casino Niagara offers all of the usual casino staples such as table games, 1,300+ slots, restaurants, and entertainment. The 95,000 square foot facility does offer bets on sports in parlay form but will immediately be looking to expand its offerings to include a wide menu of sports bets including single-game wagering. Casino Niagara will benefit from the sports betting expansion as Niagara Falls tries to expand and draw in more tourists from both the U.S. and Canada.
Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort
Fallsview is an impressive Casino run by the same company as Casino Niagara. The stunning complex is hoping to get in on sports betting to add to their 3,000 slot machines and 130 or so table games. This expansive 35-floor resort casino seems ready for a world-class sportsbook.
Casino Rama is Ontario’s only First Nations Casino and has been a fixture in the Ontario gambling and entertainment scene since 1996. The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation also has a share in the casino. Casino Rama is located two hours from Toronto, making it a popular destination for Ontarians. The high-end casino resort also features 289 hotel rooms, 2500 slot machines, table games, entertainment, and a popular spa.
Gateway Casinos Sault Ste. Marie
Located in Northern Ontario, this large casino attracts Canadian and U.S. visitors. The casino is smaller than others in the province but offers 360 slot machines and 9 table games.
Ontario sports betting recap
Ontario is a big market with about 15 million residents. After receiving the green light on April 4, 2022, various notable sportsbook brands from the United States began opening their virtual doors north of the border. FanDuel, PointsBet, BetMGM, Caesars, BetRivers, and theScore Bet were just a few of the early arrivals, all going live in Ontario the very day its brand new iGaming market launched for the first time ever.
With a competitive and robust market in store, everyone will benefit, from the sports fans in Ontario to sportsbook operators to the tax programs that will be funded from the new source of tax revenue. Things are looking good for sports betting in Ontario!