Gray Cup bets reach new highs for pounds as CFL leans more on sports betting

First of all: yes, the Gray Cup national anthem bet has been exceeded.

While the ending may have been somewhat muffled by a fighter plane flyby, Savannah Ré’s interpretation of O Canada ahead of the Canadian Football League Championship game on Sunday took longer than the total of 69. , 5 seconds offered to bettors by Sports Interaction.

“In about 30 seconds I knew it was going to be okay over because she was going a little slower and letting some notes hang around,” said Phill Gray, head of trading operations at Sports Interaction, in an interview. with Covers.

The anthem bet was popular with punters. However, that wasn’t the only thing we were betting on. And, after adding it all up, some online sportsbooks say more action has been taken at their Gray Cup store this year than ever before, which may be music to CFL ears as it aims to shoot. profit from sport. betting boom.

At Sports Interaction, the amount wagered on Sunday’s game was about double what it was in the past. The increase was due to a combination of factors including numerous prop betting options, growing awareness of sports betting in general, and a much anticipated revenge from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the weight title. heavyweight CFL.

“It all snowballed into a perfect storm down to the hilt,” Gray said.

The British Columbia Lottery Corp. (BCLC), a state-owned company, said its bookmaker PlayNow saw a 260% increase in the number of bets and a 480% increase in pay for this year’s Gray Cup compared to the 2019 game. 2020 CFL season has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This was the most popular Gray Cup for betting on PlayNow.com,” BCLC spokesperson Matt Lee said in an email.

Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) also said the amount of bets it saw in Sunday’s Gray Cup topped previous highs.

The action was prompted in part by the passing of a law earlier in the year that allows provinces to offer single-game bets to punters, which government-owned OLG is now doing with its online sports betting, PROLINE +. BCLC does the same with PlayNow.

“It’s no surprise, but this year’s Gray Cup saw the most significant betting action in the history of OLG’s PROLINE brand (retail and PROLINE + digital),” said the door. – OLG’s speech, Tony Bitonti, in an email.

Sing the blues

The downside for the books – and the upside for the punters – was that most of Sunday’s grip appears to have been on Winnipeg. The Blue Bombers served the betting public particularly well, winning 33-25 in overtime, leaving them plenty of room to cover the points spread.

Heading into Sunday’s game, the line moved from Winnipeg as about four-and-a-half point favorites to the Bombers dropping as low as -1 at some pounds before kick-off.

Gray said the week started with punters hammering Winnipeg, followed by a buyout on Hamilton. But as the game approached, it was all in Winnipeg for the punters, leaving Sports Interaction with a “heavy” responsibility for the Bombers. About 70% of the pre-game money was with Winnipeg, Gray said.

“As of noon Sunday, it was nothing but Winnipeg on the spread and Winnipeg on the moneyline,” he added.

BCLC’s Lee said the majority of the grip for PlayNow was on the money line and most punters backed the winning Blue Bombers. Additionally, the most popular prop on PlayNow was the result of the pre-game draw, with two-thirds of bets on “heads” a winner for punters.

OLG punters were also leaning towards the Blue Bombers. Winnipeg drew about 68% of the tickets and 72% of the money for Gray Cup points spread bets, which ranged from -1.5 to -3.5, Bitonti said.

A Winnipeg punter also paired the Blue Bombers with 11 other picks – most of whom were big favorites of the silver line in NFL games – to turn $ 800 into over $ 10,000 in OLG winnings. .

Kris Abbott, North America manager for Coolbet, said the number of tickets in sports betting for point spread and online betting was roughly equal, but 70-75% of the money was over Winnipeg. Not only that, but the Gray Cup topped its point total and a bunch of props were hit including the finished anthem.

“It was an overall losing game for the book as we paid back 138.1% of the money wagered,” Abbott said in an email.

While the Gray Cup may have been a loser on the books, the rise in betting on gambling has likely been a victory for the CFL, which has made sports betting a mainstay of its strategy. After having had its 2020 season wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic, the league has embraced betting as a way to generate interest and income from fans.

The CFL’s approach was highlighted the Friday before the Gray Cup. That morning, it was announced that the league had formed a partnership with Genius Sports Ltd., a data and technology company that has similar partnerships with more than 400 sports organizations, including the National Football League.

The deal will grant Genius the exclusive rights to try and make money by selling official CFL data around the world. The same goes for selling the league’s video content to sportsbook in international markets, “replicating the global distribution and success of [Genius’s] official betting products for the EPL and the NFL, among others, ”a press release read.

“Genius Sports will help the CFL capitalize on the growth of the North American sports betting market, maximizing revenue and engagement opportunities,” the statement added.

A unique welcome

The CFL’s betting ambitions were also shot in the arm earlier this year.

In the past, there had been opposition to the legalization of single game sports betting in Canada from professional sports leagues. But in June 2020, CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie joined with leaders of the NBA, NHL, MLB and MLS in publicly supporting an amendment to Canadian law that would allow provinces to offer singles.

The CFL was then one of the most prominent supporters of Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, which was passed by Parliament earlier this year. The law came into effect at the end of August and allows provinces and territories to organize and manage sports betting on a single game.

Ambrosie even appeared before a Senate committee in June to highlight the CFL’s enthusiasm for the bill. The Commissioner gave two main reasons for allowing single-match sports betting, one of which was to drag what was estimated to be billions of dollars worth of bets with foreign and illegal sports betting into channels regulated by Canada. .

The other reason given by Ambrosie had to do with the league itself and the financial blow it had suffered.

“The ability to grow our fan base has never been more important or crucial to our future,” Ambrosie told the committee, according to a transcript. “We know this bill can have an extremely positive impact on all of us in the sports and entertainment industries as we work to rebuild our businesses.”

Ambrosie said they weren’t sure exactly how financially beneficial the legalization of match betting would be for the CFL.

He said, however, that they believed it would help them attract new fans and maintain the interest of existing fans – the “fan engagement” that other professional sports organizations hoped sports betting would bring them.

“We know, in conversations with our broadcast partner, for example, that odds improvements aren’t just the number of people who watch a game, but how long they watch it,” Ambrosie said. “If someone sticks around for the last three minutes of the game because they have a $ 5 bet, it’s actually going to help us improve our odds.”

Since then, the CFL has named BetRegal as its “official sports gaming partner,” and its member clubs have continued or formed partnerships with other sports betting operators, such as Sports Interaction.

There hasn’t been much else, however, which is in part due to regulations around gambling. So far, the only sportsbooks licensed by provinces to take bets are from government-owned lottery and gaming companies.

But the provinces are gradually starting to expand their betting options.

Ontario is currently preparing to launch a competitive market for Internet gambling that could allow private sector sports betting operators to do business. An Alberta government agency also recently launched a process that could see physical sports betting open on the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Elks fields in time for next season.

A gesture of genius?

Some of the CFL’s efforts may pay off. BCLC’s Lee said the Gray Cup betting boom was not surprising, as PlayNow.com saw “record bets” on the CFL last season.

“The number of CFL bets on PlayNow.com in 2021 has increased by approximately 35% from the 2019 season, and the amount of money wagered has increased by approximately 149%,” added Lee.

The continued expansion of legal sports betting and the opportunities that may be unlocked at next year’s Gray Cup could push the game even higher.

Ambrosie recently said the CFL will work with his new partner, Genius, to identify further opportunities at the provincial level.

The CFL’s deal with Genius also involves the company taking a minority stake in a new business arm of the league, called CFL Ventures. The transaction is expected to take effect in January 2022, according to a press release.

“We will effectively be moving our business assets into a stand-alone business,” Ambrosie said in his recent State of the League remarks to the media. “Genius will become a minority investor in our business operations. And Genius is going to apply their technology, their fan engagement strategies. They’re going to bring virtually the entire world of their abilities to the CFL and we’re going to do that as partners.



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