Legal, regulated, and expanded sports betting has landed in the Canadian province of Ontario… and with it, plenty of Ontario sports betting bonuses. What are sports betting bonuses? Well, sportsbook bonuses are the sports betting version of what business professors would call a “loss leader.” Large businesses are willing to make less of a profit, or even lose money, on something that gets people in the door.
Best Ontario Sportsbook Offers
Costco famously doesn’t make any profit on their $4.99 rotisserie chickens but they refuse to raise the price because people REALLY like to pick up a $4.99 chicken while buying hundreds of dollars worth of other stuff.
It’s the same for Ontario sportsbook bonuses. People love getting a deal, so sportsbooks offer a bonus to get people to sign up for an account in the hopes that they will stick around once the offer is used up. The sportsbook bonus is a tried-and-true strategy that works, but the real winner is you, the bettor because you can try out all the sportsbooks coming soon to Ontario and sign up for all the bonuses. Lots of people in the United States take advantage of the generous bonuses offered by the sportsbooks, and we expect Canadians to do the same once the Ontario sports betting industry is opened up to competition on April 4, 2022.
In this page we will discuss sports betting bonuses in Ontario, which sportsbooks are coming to the province, which types of sportsbook bonuses they will likely offer, and a bit on responsible gaming in Ontario. Away we go.
Sports betting in Ontario
Be sure to check out SportsHandle’s Ontario page for an in-depth breakdown of everything related to sports betting in Ontario. We also have a Canada page if you want more information about sports betting countrywide. We have a British Columbia page, an Alberta page, and more! SportsHandle covers sports betting in Canada like maple syrup covers a waffle.
Back to Ontario, here are a few bullet points recapping how single-game wagering came to be in the province, paving the way for new Ontario sports betting bonus opportunities:
- Parlay wagering has been legal in Ontario for decades. Proline+, operated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG), has offered parlay sports wagering and lottery games online in the province for many years.
- Single-game wagering was never expressly legal in Canada, but it wasn’t totally illegal either. Sportsbooks were not prosecuted for operating illegally in Ontario, and bettors weren’t punished for wagering with an unlicensed sportsbook. As such, many offshore sportsbooks accepted Canadian customers.
- In 2021, the Canadian parliament passed C-218, which changed federal law to allow each province to legalize single-game wagering. Thus, it became the choice of each province whether to legalize sports betting. Ontario quickly legalized single-game wagering, with the provision that Proline+ would be the sole sportsbook operator… at first.
- Proline Plus, the online sportsbook version of Proline, added single-game wagering in late 2021, and bettors flocked to the site even though its prices were not that great and the selection of wagers was limited. Still, it was single-game wagering, and it was legal and available province-wide.
- Ontario regulators always indicated that the province would eventually become a competitive market for sportsbooks, but they decided to give Proline+ exclusive access for a few months after single-game wagering was legalized. In early 2022, Ontario government officials announced that sportsbooks would be able to begin operating in Ontario on April 4, 2022. Sportsbooks are currently in the application process, and several will be licensed and ready to open up shop on April 4.
Popular Ontario sportsbook bonuses
A sportsbook bonus is something extra that sportsbooks give to new and existing customers. There are several types of sportsbook bonuses, but they are all an added benefit to bettors that isn’t normally offered. Bonuses can change depending on the sportsbook and time of year. For example, Canada online sports betting is at its peak in the fall during the NFL season, so sportsbooks typically offer generous new customer bonuses to get people to sign up for a new account because interest in betting is higher. In July, when nothing is going on and the betting handle is light, the bonus offers will change.
Types of Ontario sports betting bonuses
Every major sportsbook offers, or has offered at least one of the following sportsbook bonuses. The specific offers vary, but most are related to some sort of deposit match or bet refund. There’s also the classic free merchandise promotion. No matter the industry or the location, everyone loves a free t-shirt!
Free bets in Ontario
A free bet is a bet that is free. Free, as in no obligation. Sometimes a deposit is required, but not necessarily. Sometimes you can earn a free bet credit just for creating the account. This promotion is usually offered to new customers and has some restrictions, typically related to the type of bet you can make. For example, some sportsbooks require that a free bet has odds of -200 or better, so you can’t take the -500 favorite to maximize your chances of winning. That is why it is important to read the terms and conditions of every sportsbook bonus offer. It’s always a big bummer when the fine print spells out something that wasn’t apparent and results in a bettor not being eligible for a bonus.
No-deposit free bet
The no-deposit free bet has taken on an almost mythical status at this point. People swear they have seen it, but little evidence suggests that sportsbooks have been handing out no-deposit free bets over the past few months. Still, it is a great promotion if you can find it. Sign up for an account and get a free bet without even making a deposit. Doesn’t get much better than that. Usually, the free bet amount is $10 or less, but still, it’s free and available right away. If you do see a no-deposit free bet out in the wild, jump on it right away.
A risk-free bet is different from a free bet. A risk-free bet is generally offered to someone making their first deposit at a sportsbook. Risk-free bets have become among the most popular options offered by major sportsbooks, and for good reason. They are great for the bettor because all the risk of their first bet is gone. Say an Ontario sportsbook offers a $1000 risk-free first bet. After opening an account and making a $1000 deposit, you are ready to make your first wager. Win or lose, your bet will be covered. If your first bet wins, great news for you! You can withdraw your winnings or continue on your sports betting journey. If your first bet doesn’t win, no worries, the sportsbook will refund your entire $1000 bet in the form of free bet credits. The credits vary by sportsbook; some must be used in one bet and others can be split up, but they all cover the amount of your first bet if it comes up short.
One thing to remember about the risk-free bet promotion is that it just covers one bet. If your first bet loses and the next bet you make using the risk-free bet credit also loses, you are out that amount. It’s not quite as good as a free bet because you are still on the hook if you come up short two times, but the risk-free bet promotion is a great way to check out a sportsbook knowing your first bet is covered.
Ontario deposit match bonuses
Deposit matches are very real and quite common, and they are an excellent value for the Ontario sports bettor. A deposit match bonus is pretty straightforward: A sportsbook will match your first deposit, usually offering site credit, up to a certain amount. When Caesars Sportsbook went live in New York, it offered an incredible $3000 deposit match. That match proved to be almost too successful, as it was reduced to a still-great $1500 after a few days. Getting $3000 of site credit to use on almost any bet type is a very generous offer. Most sportsbooks keep the deposit match at a more manageable $250-$500 level. Terms and conditions vary greatly for deposit matches, so be sure to check the fine print before making your first deposit. For example, one sportsbook may let you use the site credit on any bet you wish, while another one might require the credit to be used to make just one wager.
Free merchandise will always be around as a sportsbook bonus for the simple reason that people love free swag. Not every sportsbook offers free merchandise, but the few that do usually have a lot of success with their promotions. Barstool Sportsbook is famous for giving away shirts and hoodies to customers who bet a certain amount on a particular sport or game.
Sportsbooks offer odds boosts to juice the return on a popular or high-profile bet. So if you’re in Toronto, FanDuel might offer an NHL odds boost on Maple Leafs moneyline plus Over 6 goals for an upcoming game. Instead of +200 odds for this two-leg same-game parlay, the boost might lift the payout to +250. These odds boost promotions are prominently featured on the sportsbook app and are a fun way to get an extra payout if you like the odds of the underlying bet. They aren’ typically associated with Ontario welcome bonuses, but they’re a regular, recurring source of value for existing bettors.
Those who spend time in casinos likely have a rewards card, or player card that they use when playing table games or slot machines. Rewards programs are great for creating customer loyalty and are offered by every casino company. The more a customer plays, the more points they earn, the better the rewards they can earn. Anything from free play to free hotel nights to even a free limo ride to the airport have been offered by casino companies to their most loyal customers.
Sportsbooks, particularly sportsbooks run by casino companies (BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, etc.), have extended their rewards programs to include sports betting. The rewards usually aren’t very rewarding (pun intended), but the points can add up over time and those who bet on sports and also visit casinos are more likely to stick with the sportsbook that is owned by their favorite casino brand.
Most sportsbooks have a refer-a-friend program, rewarding both parties with a bonus, usually in the form of a free bet credit. If you get a friend to sign up for an account, FanDuel, for example, will give each of you a $50 credit. Pretty good deal! Sportsbooks know that customers are their best brand ambassadors, and those who are happy with the product will likely tell their friends about their positive experience. In states and provinces with legal sports betting, such word-of-mouth advertising is worth a great deal to the sportsbooks, which is why they offer referral bonuses.
Which sportsbooks will be in Ontario?
We know that April 4 is the go-live date for sportsbooks in Ontario. Which ones are planning on coming to the province? Based on media reports and the sportsbooks’ own statements, the following sportsbooks are the most likely to be up and running in Ontario on or around April 4, 2022. We recommend keeping tabs on each to to make sure you claim the maximum bonus:
Bet365 – Bet365 already has a presence in Ontario, having accepted customers from Canada for quite some time due to the legal gray area that was Canadian single-game sports betting. The European operator has also come to America, starting with New Jersey and, well, ending there too. New Jersey is the only state where Bet365 currently operates. Bet365 hasn’t done much in the US, but it is huge in Europe and offers a compelling, easy-to-use app that could be even more successful in Ontario now that it will soon be fully licensed to operate in the province.
BetMGM – MGM has many casinos in its empire, though none in Ontario. BetMGM, the official MGM sports betting app, has done quite well so far in the States, going live in over a dozen states, including New York, Michigan, and even Wyoming. With its flashy commercials and solid, user-friendly app, BetMGM is sure to have success north of the border when it comes to Ontario.
Caesars Sportsbook – Caesars is a well-known casino company with locations throughout the United States. Additionally, Caesars owns and operates a large casino in Windsor, Ontario, right across the Windsor Tunnel from downtown Detroit, Michigan. Seriously, it’s so close you can see Detroit from the hotel windows. This was a huge advantage before casinos came to Michigan; people flocked to Caesars Windsor because it was the only casino in the area. After three casinos popped up in Downtown Detroit and sports betting was legalized in the state, Caesars Windsor sees fewer American tourists, but it is still a large presence in the Canadian gaming scene. All that said, it is a sure thing that Caesars Sportsbook will come to Ontario at some point in 2022, and it will likely do quite well due to its many loyal casino customers.
DraftKings – The major American sportsbook company has publicly stated its intention to enter the Ontario market. DraftKings is one of the best and most popular sportsbooks in the States and will definitely be a top choice among sports bettors in the province.
FanDuel – FanDuel and DraftKings are close to #1 and #2 in almost every state in which they both operate, so it makes sense that both will be in Ontario. Again, this is good news for bettors in Ontario because FanDuel offers the most appealing sports betting product in the market today. Its user experience is the best in the industry and there is no doubt that the sportsbook will be popular among Canadian bettors.
PointsBet – We know that PointsBet will be in Ontario on April 7 because they were approved for a license to operate. We also knew because they signed Wayne Gretsky to be a brand ambassador. And if there is one person people in Canada listen to, it’s Wayne Gretsky. PointsBet has done relatively well in the States, but its stature could improve once it gains some market share in the enormous New York market. PointsBet has the financial backing and marketing power to be a serious contender in Ontario.
theScore Bet – Most Ontarians are familiar with theScore, the very popular Canadian-based sports app/website. The company recently decided to extend into sports betting by opening theScore Bet, an online sportsbook now available in four US states. Industry observers are closely watching if theScore can translate its popularity as a successful Canadian sports website into a successful sportsbook. Success in America has been limited, as theScore Bet has struggled to make headway in the crowded American market. That didn’t stop Penn National Gaming from purchasing theScore, which includes the sports website/app and the sportsbook, for $2 billion in October 2021. Penn National is bullish on Canada and thinks that theScore Bet will be a market leader. Since theScore Bet has already received approval to operate in Ontario, we will know soon after April 7, 2022, whether bettors in the province agree.
The rise of sports betting, both in the United States and Canada, has brought with it an increase in people betting too much and seeking out help. Canada has a terrific non-profit organization called the Responsible Gambling Council (RGC) that is dedicated to addressing problem gambling and helping anyone who wants someone to talk to about their gambling habits. The Council provides online support and phone lines staffed by trained professionals who can assist anyone seeking counseling and treatment for problem gambling. The Council also administers training for sportsbooks and casino companies to spot problem gambling behavior and establish best practices for the promotion of responsible gaming. For more information about the Council and other responsible gaming resources in Toronto, visit the RGC website and the OLG’s webpage dedicated to helping bettors play smarter.