Each Thursday, Sports Handle will recap all the top sports betting news in Canada, highlight the Game of the Week, and take a look ahead at some of the most intriguing games to bet on over the weekend.
Game of the week
No team has ever come back from an 0-3 series deficit in the NBA playoffs, but the Toronto Raptors could be on the brink of making history against the Philadelphia 76ers. Toronto has taken back-to-back games in the series and has complete momentum heading into a do-or-die Game 6 on Thursday evening on their home court.
The Raptors are consensus 1.5-point underdogs at sportsbooks, with totals ranging from 210 to 211. But the major storyline is the massive line movement in series odds since Toronto claimed an unlikely victory in Game 5 in Philadelphia on Monday.
The Raptors won't quit 😤
— FanDuel Sportsbook (@FDSportsbook) April 26, 2022
All-Star point guard Fred VanVleet is considered doubtful with a hip injury Thursday, so Toronto may be forced to play big without a true point guard in the lineup again. If the Raptors can pull off a third straight win, Game 7 will take place Saturday night in Philadelphia.
More Ontario sportsbook app numbers
This week, we’re seeing a shift in Ontario sportsbook app download data.
TheScore Bet had the most downloaded app out of the gate at a 35% share from April 4-April 19, but it appears as though the sportsbook is beginning to lose momentum, according to the latest numbers from Morgan Stanley.
.@theScoreBet cedes download share again in Ontario, according to Thomas Allen from Morgan Stanley.
theScore had 12% share on 4/23 vs. 65% on 4/4
— C. Blake Weishaar (@Fantini_Blake) April 25, 2022
The surge in downloads of the BetMGM app is notable, and it’s not surprising that bet365, which already had a huge portion of the market share as a gray sportsbook prior to the launch of the regulated market, continues to have a strong presence in the province.
Popular international sportsbooks such as Pinnacle, Betway, and BetRegal are in the licensing process with Ontario regulators and could be launching in the province over the coming weeks and months. Those sportsbooks are expected to gain significant market share once they go live.
DraftKings is another major sportsbook that’s expected to join the Ontario market, though there’s still no timetable on licensing and a prospective launch date.
It’s important to note the limitations of the download data above, as it’s not a true indication that users are actually depositing funds and continuously wagering with any given sportsbook app. Revenue numbers have not yet been reported by iGaming Ontario, which has stated a plan for revenue sharing will be released at a later time.
CFL rule changes
The Canadian Football League released some rule changes ahead of the 2022 season aimed at increasing scoring and game flow. Some of those changes include:
- Moving the hashmarks closer to middle of field. Each one will be 28 yards from the nearest sideline instead of 24 yards. As a result, they will be nine yards apart instead of 17 yards apart.
- Fifteen-yard penalties will be assessed for all no-yards calls. All no-yards penalties — which are assigned when the cover team invades a five-yard halo around the returner as he fields a punt — will be 15 yards. Previously, a no-yards penalty was 15 yards only if the ball had been fielded in the air — and only five yards if the punt had bounced. Also, any punt that sails out of bounds before it reaches an opponent’s 15-yard line will be assigned a penalty instead of only punts that sail out of bounds before they reach the 20-yard line.
- The league will be changing the placement of the ball for kickoffs as well as following field goals and single points. After a made field goal or single point, drives will start from the 40-yard line instead of the 35-yard line. Teams kicking off for any reason will do so from their own 30-yard line instead of the 35-yard line. The only exception is kickoffs following a safety: They will now occur from the 20-yard line instead of the 25-yard line.
- Two quarterbacks will now be allowed on the field at the same time.
“Our football leaders told us the current hashmarks too often had the effect of taking the 12th man on the field — the receiver on the far side — out of the play. A throw to him was consistently seen as too risky. And that, in turn, was diluting the impact of our huge field, which is perhaps the most unique thing about Canadian football,” said CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie in the release.
One notable omission from the rule changes is the four-down model. The CFL will continue to use its unique three-down system.
The CFL saw scoring drop from 49.5 points per game in 2019 to 43.1 points per game in 2021, a decrease of 12.9%. Many believe these rule changes should help kickstart offenses again this season.
— John Hodge (@JohnDHodge) April 27, 2022
ComeOn! Sports & Casino is the newest operator now licensed with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. However, the operator still hasn’t signed an operating agreement with iGO, according to the regulator’s website.
Launched in 2010 in Stockholm, Sweden, ComeOn! is also licensed with The Malta Gaming Authority, Curacao, and the UK Gambling Commission. The operator is using former “TSN Sportscentre” anchor Natasha Staniszewski as a brand ambassador.
Rivalry reports earnings
Toronto-based Rivalry, a sports betting and entertainment company that focuses on esports, reported earnings to investors this week.
One of the first operators to launch in Ontario on April 4, Rivalry reported significant growth for the fiscal year ending December 2021 and also released some preliminary numbers for the three-month period that ended March 31.
We reported Q4/21, FY 21, and prelim Q1/22 at $RVLY this AM. Triple digit YoY growth across the board, with rev of $11.1M for FY 21, up 617% YoY. Growth has continued into 22, with prelim Q1 handle of $40.2M, up 62% sequentially from Q4/21, and 273% YoY. https://t.co/Gi5Qho6dLN
— Steven Salz (@StevenSalz) April 27, 2022
The latest earnings report doesn’t include any Ontario financials, but CEO Steven Salz discourages jumping to conclusions based on any early revenue numbers reported in the coming weeks and months.
"… It’s going to take 12 to 18 months to see who has a great product and who actually understands the market. (Today) isn’t showing who has strength because promotions give you a transient customer who’s not there because they love the brand.”
— Steven Salz (@StevenSalz) April 23, 2022
Dave Portnoy visits Toronto
Barstool Sports President Dave Portnoy was in Toronto this week promoting theScore Bet app, which like Barstool is part of Penn National Gaming. Prior to his arrival, Portnoy posted a video on Instagram featuring his awful rendition of the Canadian national anthem to announce his plans to head north of the border.
TheScore Bet has carved out a section of its app for special MLB, NBA, and NHL markets titled “Picks from Pres” from April 25-28.
— theScore Bet (@theScoreBet) April 26, 2022
While in Toronto, Portnoy has been visiting many local pizzerias to give his staple reviews and he’s attending some baseball games while the Boston Red Sox are in town for a four-game series. Earlier this month, theScore Bet announced a major partnership with the Blue Jays.
Penn National bought Score Media and Gaming for $2 billion last August.