Why do Ontarians bet more on basketball than hockey?


Everyone knows hockey is Canada’s national sport, but is that reflected in the beginnings of Ontario’s newly regulated sports betting market? The answer is yes, but maybe not as much as initially expected, thanks to the growing popularity of basketball in the country and, more specifically, in Ontario.

Many sportsbooks are reporting basketball as the most popular sport with local bettors since the market launched on April 4, followed closely by hockey. And Ontario bettors are betting big on local professional teams in the province, like the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and Toronto Blue Jays.

Fifteen million Canadians live in Ontario, including six million in the Greater Toronto Area. Ontario has nearly 40% of Canada’s total population.

“There’s a ton of hometown love out there,” theScore Bet VP of Content and Marketing Aubrey Levy recently said in an online chat about the Ontario launch. “We saw over 80% of our sports betting users bet on Ontario teams, over 50% bet on the Jays, that’s a lot of love for their hometown. I think it also helps that all local teams, at least in the Toronto market, are competitive and good. So these are fun teams to bet on.

Toronto’s professional sports teams have been pretty good this year, as Levy said. The Raptors and Maple Leafs had strong regular seasons before pulling out in the first round of the playoffs in their respective sports, and the Blue Jays currently hold a playoff spot in the American League and have a roster with some of the most exciting young talents. at baseball.

Nevertheless, basketball seems to be the preferred sport to bet on across the board, at least until the start of the NFL regular season in September. There’s no doubt that the Toronto Raptors, who won the first NBA title in franchise history in 2019, skyrocketed the sport’s popularity in Ontario. In fact, social media was buzzing last week with posts reminiscing about the Raptors’ recent championship run led by Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard.

A new poll found the NBA (27.6%) was the most popular league to bet on in April among Ontarians. The NHL (22.1%) came second, followed by the NFL (13%), MLB (8.3%), English Premier League (2.8%) and CFL (0. 7%). It’s important to note, however, that the NFL was in its offseason at the time of the study and should be very popular with Ontario bettors this fall.

The rise of basketball

So why did the #1 basketball come out?

“At the end of the day, what we’re seeing is that basketball is exceptionally popular. It’s this live in-play [driving the betting]said PointsBet Canada Chief Commercial Officer Nic Sulsky in the same online chat about the Ontario launch. “Hockey is not as easy to bet as basketball. There are fewer stats, in-play betting is limited at the moment and there are fewer points. 1.5 goals in hockey That’s a tougher bet than if the Warriors are favored by four and a half [points] on the Mavericks. There is much less variance in hockey than in other sports. There are fewer data points.

PointsBet Canada is also not the only sports betting site to report strong basketball stocks. Dale Hooper, General Manager of FanDuel Canada, said Sports handle that the NBA, NHL and MLB have been its most popular sports betting markets, but there is also growing popularity in global games like soccer and tennis.

“People love stars,” Hooper said. “The NBA is a star-oriented league. And [bettors] I love prop bets around these stars. There are so many ranges and markets you can work in. People love the NBA whether the Raptors play or not.

Hooper added that Ontarians are actively betting on a number of NBA teams and props, and the action is certainly not limited to the Raptors.

BetRivers also released some early data that revealed basketball was a favorite market for Ontario bettors. Surprisingly, hockey was not even mentioned in the publication of the sports book.

Another sports betting official gave Sports handle the following breakdown of betting volume in Ontario to date: basketball (35%), hockey (22%) and baseball (20%), with soccer, tennis and golf accounting for approximately 5% each.

Even Ontario’s provincial lottery, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, sees good betting volumes on its PROLINE+ sports betting site outside of hockey.

“We were thrilled to see a lot of intense basketball and baseball action,” said David Pridmore, OLG’s chief digital and strategy officer. Sports handle end of April. “In Ontario, there are fans of different teams all over different cities and communities. Every time the [Canadian men’s soccer team was] getting closer to the World Cup was great for us – we had a lot of action. Women’s hockey was also huge for us during the Olympics. That and curling was huge for us.

Ontario Hockey Betting Focuses on Leafs

Hockey bettors have taken a keen interest in betting on events involving the Maple Leafs, particularly during their first-round playoff series in early May with back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

An OLG spokesperson said 34.5% of all NHL hockey sales involved the Maple Leafs during a four-game streak in their opening series. The support for Toronto was overwhelming in Game 7 against Tampa, even with the team’s terrible recent playoff record.

PROLINE+ reported that 66% of moneyline bets for the game were on the Leafs, but Tampa won 2-1 in Game 7, giving the Maple Leafs a seventh straight first-round playoff outing.

Surprisingly, the thrilling first-round series was also a relative misfire in television ratings compared to the previous year.

But not everyone is convinced that hockey is secondary to basketball in the Ontario betting world.

“Hockey has a ton of action. I don’t think the popularity of basketball is down to the popularity of hockey,” Levy said. Sports handle Last week. “I think it shows how Toronto is a hometown market. … When we have exciting, well-functioning teams with lots of fan support, you’re going to see a lot of action. I’m not surprised by the amount of NBA and Raptors action that took place, but it certainly wasn’t at the expense of NHL or Leafs action.

With the NBA playoffs ending Thursday night and the Stanley Cup Finals underway, the betting landscape will change again as we enter the scorching days of summer. Predictably, operators expect betting volumes to increase significantly with baseball and Canadian Football League action over the summer months. After that, the focus will shift to the NFL, and competition will be fiercer than ever for sports betting consumer money in the province.


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