Sports betting has been on the rise in Canada since the legalization of Ontario’s regulated iGaming market in April 2022, and the market continues to grow during the NHL playoffs. Michael Naraine, an assistant sports management professor at Brock University in Ontario shared that sports wagering numbers are through the roof since the legalization of online sports betting over a year ago.
According to reports from Statistics Canada, gambling industries grew by almost 40% in 2022, with over 60% growth recorded in Ontario, where the province introduced legal online sports betting. Meanwhile, Quebec clocked an increase of over 17%, while Alberta recorded one of almost 40%, while British Columbia and Manitoba got 37% and 33% respectively.
Sports Wagering Boom is Just Starting
In a recent interview, Mr. Naraine said that sports betting is just getting started in Ontario and Canada. He claimed that wagering numbers have been through the roof after the latest advancements in the country. In his opinion, this is due to the fact that there is immense availability, as bettors can do it from the comfort of their homes and basically everywhere.
He added that wagering makes sports events more engaging for fans and that there was a tendency for fans to place bets on their home teams. Since the Toronto Maple Leafs are the odds-on favourite to win the Stanley Cup, this could lead to a major boom in betting volume. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers also advanced to the NHL playoffs making it much more entertaining for Canadian sports fans.
The expert elaborated that there are two main reasons why fans start to gamble. The first one is for entertainment when they want to have some fun while watching the game, which tends to be less problematic when it comes to wagering behaviour. Then there are those who gamble to make money, and their demographic is much more susceptible to addictions or harm-level intensity.
He urged that the local government and Canada as a whole needed more funding to tackle problem gambling. Mr. Naraine noted that there were not many sports gambling courses or programs or discussions happening at a national level. He even described the current situation as the Wild West in comparison to other jurisdictions such as Australia and the UK with tight restrictions on ads.
Banning Celebrities from Gambling Ads
However, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which oversees the iGaming market is working on player protection. Recently the regulator proposed banning sports stars from participating in advertisements and commercials for iGaming. Its proposal also applies to cartoon figures, symbols, role models, social media influencers, celebrities or entertainers who tend to appeal to younger audiences.
Last month, Ontario reported the numbers on its online gambling market for the three-month period ending on March 31, 2023. According to the province, in Q4, local bettors placed over CA$13.9 billion in online sports wagers and casino play. This volume surpassed the previous all-time high of CA$11.5 billion recorded in the previous quarter.
Source: Stober, Eric “As Leafs, Oilers progress in playoffs, sports betting is ‘through the roof’” Global News, May 2, 2023