Ontario Gears Up for Sports Betting With Full Slate of Games

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Ontario Gears Up for Sports Betting With Full Slate of Games
© USA Today

The April 4 launch of single-game sports wagering in Ontario in about three weeks is happening at a good time for bettors.

That same night, the NCAA men’s basketball national title game tips off at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

Three days later, the Major League Baseball season starts.

A few days after that, on April 12, the NBA’s play-in tournament begins, with the NHL playoffs getting underway soon afterward.

Sportsbook List Grows with BetRivers Addition

Last August, Canadian provinces were authorized to offer single-event sports betting. An April 4 date was set to launch this type of commercial wagering in Ontario.

In the past, bettors could only make parlay wagers through provincial lotteries.

Some commercial bookmakers now are preparing for the April launch, while others are awaiting approval.

Rush Street Interactive is the most recent operator to win approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Rush Street plans to launch its BetRivers Casino and Sportsbook in Ontario on April 4.

Among others slated to launch in Ontario are Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM and PointsBet Canada.

At the April 4 launch, Ontario, with about 15 million residents, will be the second-largest commercial sports-betting market in North America.

Only New York, with a population of 20 million, has more residents than Ontario. Sports betting is legal in New York on mobile devices and in person at casinos.

California, Texas and Florida have larger populations than New York, but sports wagering is illegal in those states.

Blue Jays Generate High Expectations

Three days after single-game wagering begins in Ontario, the Major League Baseball season gets underway.

This week, the league’s club owners and its players’ union reached a collective bargaining agreement after a 99-day lockout. Instead of starting March 31, this year’s season will begin April 7.

In Ontario, Toronto Blue Jays fans are looking forward to a stacked lineup that includes Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who hit 48 home runs last season, and former Houston Astros star George Springer, who hit 22 homers.

Most sportsbooks have the Blue Jays, who won 91 games last season, in the World Series hunt this year. The Los Angeles Dodgers (+160 at FanDuel) are the favorite to win it all, but the Blue Jays (+1200) are a solid bet to go the distance.

One twist that bettors will have to watch is the news this week that the collective bargaining agreement bans players from playing in Canada if they haven’t received a COVID-19 vaccination. That development, tweeted by WCVB-TV reporter Duke Castiglione in Boston, could impact betting lines.

Raptors, Maple Leafs in Title Hunt

Only a few days after the MLB season gets underway, the NBA begins its play-in tournament leading up to the full playoffs. The play-in rounds are April 12-15.

If the play-in tournament began Friday, the Toronto Raptors would face the Brooklyn Nets.

In ice hockey, the Stanley Cup playoffs begin on May 2. The Toronto Maple Leafs are among a half-dozen elite teams expected to challenge for the championship.

If the playoffs started Friday, the Maple Leafs would face the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round. The season series between these two teams is tied at 1-0-1, with two head-to-head games remaining in South Florida.

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