Super Bowl exciting time for Ontario sports betting industry

The first Super Bowl in an open Ontario sports-betting market has been seven months in the making for Aubrey Levy and TheScore Bet.

Ontario’s sports-betting industry opened fully April 4, roughly two months after the L.A. Rams edged the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20 to capture last year’s NFL title. But Levy said TheScore Bet began its 2023 Super Bowl preparation in July, understanding the game is the single-biggest event on the sports calendar and must be done up right.

“If we were building the engine of a car and you want to unleash the full capability of it ? this (Super Bowl) is the highway you’re going to unleash it on,” said Levy, senior vice-president of content and marketing at theScore. “If you’re talking about building it up to the biggest event, having the tools we have at our disposal ? bringing that up at the biggest event of the year is going to be pretty awesome.”

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TheScore Bet is one of 44 live online gaming operations in the province. The Responsible Gaming Council, citing a survey it did, that 49 per cent of those who wager on sports are planning to bet on the Super Bowl.

Earlier this week, the American Gaming Association said a record 50.4 million adults are expected to wager on the Super Bowl, a 61 per cent increase from the record set in 2022. It added bettors expected to wager US$16 billion on Sunday’s contest, which would more than double last year’s estimates.

“We’re going into (Super Bowl) with an open mind but I think demand is going to be massive,” Levy said. “The only thing that would get me more excited would be if Buffalo was in the Super Bowl.

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“I think most Ontario sportsbooks would’ve been happy if that was the case, but notwithstanding that I think it’s going to be a huge event for Ontario.”

The Cincinnati Bengals dispatched Buffalo from the NFL playoffs with a 27-10 divisional round victory.

The Responsible Gaming Council survey also found 74 per cent of respondents plan to watch the Super Bowl at home, with 53 per cent doing so with family or friends. And while 54 per cent said they’ll place a single bet on the outcome of the game, 24 per cent will bet with multiple sportsbooks.

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Not surprising, theScore Bet will offer bettors a myriad of options for Sunday’s game, ranging from the usual (what team will win, who will be MVP, and the fan-favourite coin flip) to more entertaining prop wagers (like what colour of Gatorade will be poured on the winning coach).

“One of the key market traits of a Super Bowl-type game is the breadth and depth of market availability,” Levy said. “You’re getting a lot of potentially new users coming in and looking at it for the first time.

“You make a concerted effort to make sure you have an incredibly robust suite of markets, unique offerings, communications. Super Bowl get its own all-inclusive, 360 (degree) treatment.”

This marks the second straight year the Super Bowl will be available on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s Proline Plus platform. The organization, too, has high expectations for the contest.

“Early sales are tracking ahead of last year and yet it’s another year of firsts for us as we strive to offer Ontario residents a one-of-a-kind experience while enjoying Super Bowl LVII,” the OLG said in a statement. “We’re proud to be offering the largest selection of wagering options we ever have, including a wide selection of game- and player-related related props, cross-sport and novelty prop, as well as boosted Bets and prepackaged single game parlays.

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“On top of that, another first, we are offering three separate and unique POOLS cards for the game.”

FanDuel has released Super Bowl futures for next season with the Chiefs the top pick at 6-1, followed closely by Buffalo (8.5-1) and Philadelphia, Cincinnati and San Francisco (all 9-1). The Houston Texans, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts, all at 280-1, offer the longest odds.

Many sportsbooks are also offering traditional game and player props as well as entertainment-type prop bets surrounding the halftime show, national anthem and coin toss, to name a few.

DraftKings revealed one of its bettors was anticipating a high-scoring Super Bowl. The individual spent $88 on a five-bet parlay which would pay out $132,088 (1,500-1 odds).

Last month, iGaming Ontario released figures showing the province’s fledgling sports-betting market experienced a 71 per cent increase in total gaming revenue in the third fiscal quarter. From Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, total gaming revenue was $457 million compared to $267 million in the second quarter (July to September).

That figure was up 182 per cent from the opening quarter ($162 million). Since opening fully April 4, Ontario’s sports-betting industry has surpassed $21.6 billion in total wagers and reached $886 million in total gaming revenue.

And with both the Super Bowl and March Madness, the two most popular sports-betting events, both available in a legal market, the anticipation is iGaming Ontario’s fourth-quarter numbers will continue to rise.

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“Super Bowl and March Madness are the two biggest events,” Levy said. “So to be able to round out the first legal year of operation with Super Bowl and then a month later go into March Madness, I’d expect that would be a strong way to round out the year.”

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