How sports gambling changes now that it’s fully legal in Ontario

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Sports betting comes to Ontario

Think this is the year the Toronto Maple Leafs finally end their Stanley Cup drought? Have an inkling that North Carolina will upset Kansas in tonight’s men’s March Madness final? Got your eye on Canada’s Corey Conners to win The Masters?

If you live in Ontario, then congratulations — starting today, you can legally put your money where your mouth is.

As Ontario becomes the first province to expand its sports betting market, here’s what you should know:

Wait, wasn’t sports betting already legal?

Prior to the passing of Bill C-218 last June, the only legal type of sports betting in Canada was through parlays (bets where you pick multiple results which all must hit in order to win) and horse racing.

Bill C-218 changed that, removing the federal ban on sports betting and paving the path for more types of gambling to be allowed, like futures (eg a Stanley Cup bet placed at the beginning of the season) and single-game betting (eg the Leafs to beat the Lightning tonight).

Ontario is the first province to launch its regulated sports betting program, with multiple sportsbooks officially opening for business today. With a population of around 14.57 million people, Ontario is expected to generate $800 million in gross revenue from sports betting this year — hardly a gamble for the provincial government.

The US passed a similar bill in 2018, and 30 states now host legal sports betting.

This doesn’t seem like it changes much for me.

Then you were probably already betting in what’s known as the gray market, with an online sportsbook based offshore. You may also be placing bets in person with a bookie, in which case your gambling may not be affected at all.

In the first case, the transition seems like it will be pretty simple. If your current sportsbook has an agreement with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, it’s likely asking for some verification of your age (you must be 19 to bet) before you can continue. For your troubles, it may offer some sort of promotion through bet credits — but don’t mistake credits for real dollars. There are often many strings attached before credits can turn into withdrawable money.

How will this affect my sports viewing experience?

Besides the endless sportsbook ads after seemingly every whistle, betting should make your sleepy late-season NHL game a little more exciting — and hey, maybe you’ll even win some money while you’re at it. (Here’s where we note that the book always knows best, and you will probably lose. Fair warning).

One way to gamble in-game is through prop bets, which you may be familiar with from the Super Bowl. Props can be anything from the length of the national anthem (typically only offered for the NFL championship) to specific player stats (Auston Matthews to score in any given game seems like the safest bet there is these days). Some people’s vision for the future of sports betting is to have fans in the arena placing these types of wagers, and pro leagues are slowly warming to that idea with every additional dollar of revenue.

What are the downsides?

Gambling addiction is one. The government is providing online supports to curb that problem, including an online self-assessment quiz. Meanwhile, self controls where you can set deposit limits and a maximum loss must be included on all sportsbooks.

The other downside involves the athletes themselves. The NFL recently suspended Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley an entire season for betting on his team’s games, even though he reportedly bet on Atlanta to win as part of multiple parlays. But the whole thing falls apart if the players are rigging games — part of the reason some think single-game betting was banned in the first place, and the entire reason why names like Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose are held in infamy.

So how can I get started?

Some basics: if you see -110 next to a wager, that means you need to bet $110 to win $100. Conversely, something like +220 means that a $100 bet would pay off at $220.

A moneyline bet is when you choose a game winner, with odds skewed toward the favourite. Betting with the point spread evens those odds. For example, Kansas is favored by 4.5 points in tonight’s title game against UNC. If you bet on the Jayhawks with the spread, they need to win by at least five points. Meanwhile, a UNC bet would be successful if the Tar Heels either lose by fewer than five points, or win.

Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley was recently suspended by the NFL for betting on his team’s games. (Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters)

Quickly…

Canadian swimmers are back in the pool. Fresh off a six-medal performance at Tokyo 2020, Canada’s swim team is back in the starting blocks for a new season, beginning with national trials in Victoria. The whole event will be streamed live on CBCSports.ca, the CBC Sports app and CBC Gem, with action starting tomorrow at 12:27 pm ET and running through Sunday. The trials help determine Canada’s team for the world championships, which will be held in June in Budapest. For the first time in a decade, the event will take place without former head coach Ben Titley, who split with Swimming Canada in March despite his success overseeing the likes of Penny Oleksiak, Kylie Masse and Summer McIntosh. McIntosh, 15, is the name to watch this season. The Toronto native just missed a medal at her debut Olympics in Tokyo, placing fourth in the women’s 400-metre individual medley. But after posting the third-fastest time ever in the event last month, McIntosh seems destined for many podiums to come.

Brad Gushue is off to a strong start at curling worlds. After earning bronze at the Olympics, Gushue and his rink won the Brier just weeks later to book a ticket to the world championships in Las Vegas. The Newfoundland b’ys have won each of their first four matches in Nevada to surge into the first place of the 13-team round robin. Gushue is back on the ice today at 5 pm ET against Italy. The biggest surprise so far is Sweden’s Nik Edin, who won Olympic gold but is just 1-2 so far at worlds. Gushue said the ice conditions in steamy Vegas may be to blame. Watch highlights and read more about Canada’s latest two victories here.

In case you missed it…

Kyle Lowry finally returned home. Until Sunday, the last time Lowry played a game in Toronto was Feb. 28, 2020. In between, the Greatest Raptor Of All-Time essentially relocated to Florida, playing home games for Toronto in Orlando (in the bubble) and Tampa (last season) before signing with the Miami Heat. And so Lowry’s homecoming last night became a long-awaited celebration of his nine seasons with the club, full of meetings and ovations. Lowry’s Heat went on to win the near-afterthought of a game. The Raptors, despite the loss, still seem assured of a top-six playoff seed to avoid the precarious play-in tournament. But four games remain, and they’ll go a long way toward determining the final standings and playoff matchups. Watch the Raptors’ tribute to Lowry and read more about the game here.

#TigerWatch is officially on. Tiger Woods hasn’t played a PGA Tour event since a car crash 13 months ago so badly damaged his right leg that doctors considered amputation. In fact, the last time Tiger played on tour was at the pandemic-delayed Masters in November 2020. Yesterday, with the 2022 edition of the tradition unlike any other just days away, Tiger tweeted that he would be a “game-time decision” to play in the tournament, which begins Thursday. His practice round soon after has already been deeply dissected, right down to his shoe brand (notably not Nike). Check out scenes from the round hereand read more about the potential storybook return here.

The Ryerson Rams hoisted the Bronze Baby. That’s the trophy given to the U Sports women’s basketball national champions, and it seemed destined for Ryerson all season as head coach Carly Clarke and her team went undefeated. The Rams left no doubt in the title game either, beating Winnipeg by 22 points. Meanwhile, men’s powerhouse Carleton won its third straight title after taking down surprising Saskatchewan in the final. South of the border, US women’s national-team coach Dawn Staley led South Carolina, featuring Canadian role player Laeticia Amihere, to its second championship ever by upending traditional power UConn. The men’s final between eighth-seeded UNC, who beat archrival Duke in the semis, and first-seeded Kansas goes tonight.

And finally…

A 93-year-old broke three Canadian running records. Canio Polosa is a retired doctor in London, Ont., who finished a 10K on Sunday in just over one hour 14 minutes. That was good enough to break the mark for Canadians in the 90-95 age bracket. For good measure, he also took down records in the 8K and 5-mile distances along the way. And in case you’re not feeling bad enough for skipping that weekend run you’d planned, 18-month-old Luke Bell also competed in part of the race. See a picture of Polosa and Bell together and read more about Polosa’s achievements here.

You’re up to speed. Talk to you tomorrow.

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