We learned some interesting things about the sports betting habits of Ontarians in April when provincial industry regulators revealed that the most popular sport to bet on during the first year of the regulated market was basketball at 28% of wagers, followed by soccer at 15%, football at 14%, then hockey at 9% and baseball at 8%.
To many outsiders from outside of the country, it was surprising that hockey, Canada‘s national sport, wasn’t one of the most popular sports with Ontario bettors. It was also shocking to some that basketball, by a longshot, was the most popular sport to bet on within provincial borders over the past year.
Canada Sports Betting has obtained more data based on picks tracked in affiliated applications between Jan. 2022 and March 2023 that largely supports these previous numbers and also shows some major discrepancies between the betting habits of Ontarians and bettors from other provincial jurisdictions.
Tracked picks from Ontario-based users increased 67% year-over-year in Q1 2023 compared to a 12% increase YoY for other Canadian users. In March 2023, Ontario-based users accounted for 66% of the picks tracked in Canada, a 54% increase from March 2022, a month before legal online sportsbooks (besides PROLINE and PROLINE +) were made available to users in Ontario.
While examining tracked picks made by users from other provinces during Q1 2023, it was apparent that the numbers were relatively stagnant. In the average month during Q1, users from other provinces made an average of 104 picks per month, which was only a 12% YoY increase.
It’s evident that the launch of the regulated sports betting market and the associated marketing and advertising blitz in Ontario has had a profound impact on the amount of sports wagers and the interest in sports wagering in the province.
Most popular leagues
The league with the most-tracked picks by Ontario-based users is the NBA (No. 3 in other Canadian provinces). The NHL is No. 4 in Ontario and No. 2 in other Canadian provinces.
|League||Ontario Rank||Rest of Canada Rank|
|ATP (men’s tennis)||9||8|
Most popular teams
The Toronto Raptors (NBA) are the most-picked team by Ontario-based users (No. 13 in other Canadian provinces), followed by the Toronto Blue Jays (No. 1 in other Canadian provinces). Although betting on the Raptors is trendy within the borders of Ontario, they appear to be less intriguing to bettors from across the country.
As many industry analysts and executives have predicted, local sports teams are almost always popular with local bettors. The Edmonton Oilers are the second-most picked team by bettors in the rest of Canada, but they ranked just 24th with Ontario bettors.
|Teams||Ontario Rank||Rest of Canada Rank|
|Toronto Raptors (NBA)||1||13|
|Toronto Blue Jays (MLB)||2||1|
|Golden State Warriors (NBA)||3||4|
|Boston Celtics (NBA)||4||3|
|Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL)||5||9|
|Kansas City Chiefs (NFL)||6||10|
|Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)||7||18|
|Buffalo Bills (NFL)||8||16|
|Milwaukee Bucks (NBA)||9||20|
|Philadelphia 76ers (NBA)||10||28|
*Honourable mention: The Edmonton Oilers (NHL) were the second-most popular team outside of Ontario.
Most popular players
Jayson Tatum is the most-picked player by Ontario-based users (No. 2 in other Canadian provinces), followed by Pascal Siakam (No. 10 in other Canadian provinces). The widespread popularity of NBA and NFL player props is very apparent after reviewing the following list.
|Players||Ontario Rank||Rest of Canada Rank|
|Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)||1||2|
|Pascal Siakam (Toronto Raptors)||2||10|
|Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)||3||3|
|Travis Kelce (Kansas City Chiefs)||4||4|
|Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)||5||8|
|Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors)||6||5|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)||7||6|
|Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)||8||9|
|LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)||9||7|
|Fred VanVleet (Toronto Raptors)||10||30|
Honourable mention: Auston Matthews (No. 12 in Ontario, No. 18 outside of Ontario).
Most popular events
As for the most popular events, the NFL is king in Canada. Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles is the most-picked sporting event in both Ontario and across Canada. In fact, NFL games, particularly playoff games, pretty much rounded out the top 14 on the list. UFC 285, which featured Jon Jones’ long-awaited return to the Octagon, is the most popular non-NFL event of the year.
As for pick types, the main sports betting markets – moneyline and spread – were the most popular, followed by player props and over/under totals.
|Event||Ontario Rank||Rest of Canada Rank|
|NFL: Super Bowl LVII (Feb. 12, 2023)||1||1|
|NFL: 49ers vs. Eagles (Jan. 29, 2023)||2||3|
|NFL: Bengals vs. Chiefs (Jan. 29, 2023)||3||4|
|NFL: Bengals vs. Bills (Jan. 22, 2023)||4||5|
|NFL: Jaguars vs. Chiefs (Jan. 21, 2023)||5||7|
|NFL: Raiders vs. Chiefs (Oct. 11, 2022)||6||13|
|NFL: Giants vs. Eagles (Jan. 2, 2023)||7||11|
|NFL: Cowboys vs. Buccaneers (Jan. 17, 2023)||8||8|
|NFL: Cowboys vs. 49ers (Jan. 22, 2023)||9||10|
|NFL: Dolphins vs. Bengals (Sept. 30, 2022)||10||9|
This data will be useful for private operators wishing to launch in other provinces in the future. Currently, Ontario is the only province to embrace private sports betting entities, but others could follow suit in the coming months and years. Legal sports betting is available in other provincial jurisdictions across Canada via provincial lottery corporations, such as the British Columbia Lottery Corporation and Atlantic Lottery Corporation, among others. Bettors in provinces outside of Ontario also have access to illegal grey market operators.