Northern Exposure: Betsafe Launches in Ontario, Mini-Casino Coming To The Bell Centre?

Each week, Canada Sports Betting recaps all the top sports betting and iGaming news in Canada, highlights the event of the week, and takes a look ahead at some of the most intriguing games to bet on over the weekend.

Our top stories this week

Event of the week

Scotties Tournament of Hearts

The top women’s curling teams from across country are competing in Kamloops, BC, this week to win the Canadian women’s championship and represent Canada at the World Women’s Curling Championship.

Kerri Einarson and her crew, who are sponsored by PointsBet, are back as Team Canada at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts. Einarson and her team are the three-time defending champions, winning in 2020, 2021, and 2022. They’re the only undefeated team in pool play at 6-0 heading into action Thursday.

There are 18 teams at the tournament and they’re broken into two pools of nine. There is one team from each province in Canada, in addition to a team from Northern Ontario. There are also three Wild Card teams in addition to Team Canada (Einarson), which is the winning squad from the year prior.

Pool play will wrap up on Thursday and then the playoffs and page playoffs will take place on Friday and Saturday before the semifinals and final commence on Sunday.

Here are the updated outright odds courtesy of Sports Interaction:

Betsafe launches in Ontario

Betsson launched its Betsafe brand in Ontario earlier this week.

The Sweden-based operator is offering both iCasino and sports betting markets to Ontario customers and has been in the gaming business since 1963. It also obtained a supplier’s license from Ontario’s regulators.

Betsson employs over 2,000 people and has 14 offices located around the globe, including its operational headquarters in Malta. It holds gaming licenses in several international jurisdictions across Europe, South America, and Central Asia, and owns 20-plus gaming brands including Nordicbet and Casinoeuro.

Players in Ontario will be able to wager with Betsafe via mobile apps and on its local website.

“We are pleased to obtain the necessary licenses to operate with both a B2C and B2B offering in the locally regulated online gaming market in Ontario,” Betsson President and Chief Executive Pontus Lindwall said in a press release. “We are convinced that there are great opportunities for Betsson in Ontario in both the B2C and B2B channels as we bring a highly competitive offering to the market.”

As of Thursday afternoon, 77 iGaming sites are live in the province from over 40 different operators.

Mini-casino coming to the Bell Centre?

Patrons attending Montreal Canadiens games at the Bell Centre may have some more entertainment options coming their way.

Loto-Quebec CEO Jean-Francois Bergeron revealed during a radio interview with 98.5 FM on Wednesday that the crown corporation has been in talks with the Canadiens for several months regarding the possible addition of a “mini-casino” inside the 1909 Taverne Moderne restaurant, a three-story building that adjoins the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal.

The plan is to have the casino offer hundreds of video gambling machines that will include sports gambling terminals, slot machines, and video poker.

“We’re not quite ready [to make an announcement], but yes, we’re in discussions,” Bergeron said during the interview. “Ideally, it [the deal] would be done by now.”

Bergeron said the targeted clientele would be patrons attending events at the Bell Centre, but added that other gamblers would obviously be welcome from a street entrance to the new gaming venue.

Loto-Quebec has a gambling monopoly in the province and there are no imminent plans in Quebec to adopt an open iGaming model like Ontario.

Scholarships for esports

Domestic postsecondary students can now qualify for a lucrative scholarship if they’re interested in learning about the video game and/or esports industries.

Lambton College in Sarnia, Ontario, has received funding from the Ontario government to award $50,000 in scholarships over the next two years to students enrolled in its Esports Entrepreneurship & Administration program. Award values range from $2,500 to $5,000 for qualifying students, who will need a GPA of 3.0 or higher during the fall term to be considered.

“It’s great to see the provincial government recognize the growing demand for professionals in the gaming industry and put funding in place to help our students pursue careers related to esports,” said Program Coordinator, Matthew Hutchinson, in a release. “As the esports industry continues to expand, it brings with it an increased demand for entrepreneurial-minded young people who aren’t just passionate about playing games, but who are also skilled in the strategy, marketing, and business development aspects of this burgeoning sector.”

The Ontario government announced last March that it would be investing $1 million over two years into various esports education programs.