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Northern Exposure: CFL Week 1, More Sites Live, Conference Mania


Each Thursday, Sports Handle will recap all the top sports betting news in Canada, highlight the Game of the Week, and take a look ahead at some of the most intriguing games to bet on over the weekend.

Our top Canadian sports stories this week

Game(s) of the week

CFL Week 1

Football season is here in Canada, and eight of the nine teams (Toronto the exception) in the Canadian Football League will kick off their regular seasons this week.

The Calgary Stampeders host the Montreal Alouettes on Thursday night in the season opener, the Ottawa Redblacks visit the back-to-back defending Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers on Friday night, and then a pair of games — Hamilton Tiger-Cats at Saskatchewan Roughriders and Edmonton Elks at BC Lions — are scheduled for Saturday.

A number of rule changes were instituted this offseason in an attempt to increase scoring across the league, and oddsmakers appear to be playing it safe with their Week 1 totals. All four games have totals between 47 and 48 points at most sportsbooks. The Blue Bombers (-9) are the only heavy favorite this week, with the other three games all with spreads of a field goal or less.

Here are the Week 1 odds courtesy of Coolbet Canada:


BetRivers and Coolbet join CGA

You can add BetRivers and Coolbet Canada to the growing list of operators to become Canadian Gaming Association members.

The latest edition of the CGA newsletter confirmed the two operators are now officially members of the national trade association that represents leading operators and suppliers in Canada’s gaming, sports betting, esports, and lottery industries.

CGA members fully operational in Ontario also include:

More Ontario licenses

BetVictor is now licensed with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, effective June 3.

The Gibraltar-based operator is the 35th gaming operator approved by the AGCO, but it has yet to secure an operating agreement with iGaming Ontario. Once an operating agreement with iGO is secured, the operator can go live in the province.

PokerStars and Pret Play Limited ( are also now licensed with the AGCO and can go live once they pass the last checkpoint with iGO.

A few new gaming sites appeared on the iGO website this week: Comeon!,,,, and These additions bring the overall total to 29 live gaming websites in Ontario.

It was revealed during a recent webinar that more than 70 operators are in the process of obtaining an Ontario iGaming license. The process can take anywhere between 90-120 days, according to the AGCO.

Sightline Payments and Fansunite news

FansUnite, a Canadian-based global online gaming company that provides a full suite of betting technology solutions for online casino, sports betting, and esports, announced its Q1 revenue is up 804% over the prior year. FansUnite is licensed in Ontario as a gaming-related supplier and its CEO, Scott Burton, sits on the board of the CGA.

Sightline Payments, a digital payments provider that gives consumers a safe, secure, and responsible way to fund their online gaming and enables casinos to offer cashless wagering, is growing its presence in Canada with two hires — Will Hill as VP of business development and Tamara Tenenbaum as SVP of business development and managing director.

Tenenbaum previously served as director of payments for Caesars, while Hill is well known in the Canadian gaming and sports industries from his 11-year tenure with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and columnist days with TSN, Canada’s major sports network.


B.C. government still reviewing gaming money laundering inquiry

We should soon know the details of an inquiry launched in 2019, regarding the possibility of hundreds of millions of dollars linked to organized crime and the drug trade that were linked to the province of British Columbia’s gaming sector, among other sectors.

The final report from British Columbia’s public inquiry into money laundering has been submitted to the government, with officials set to review the B.C. Supreme Court Justice Cullen Commission’s report before it’s made public.

B.C. Attorney General David Eby previously testified he has seen videos of gamblers picking up large bags full of cash outside local casinos and bringing them inside the venues, leading to speculation the incidents are linked to organized crime.

In total, 133 hearings were held as part of the inquiry, and 1,063 pieces of evidence were reviewed over the last three years, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

It’s unclear exactly when the report will be released.

Better Collective exec talks all things Canada

This week, Canada’s own JD McNamara was featured in a Q&A session with SBC News.

Better Collective’s country director of Canada spoke candidly about a variety of topics, including the company’s acquisition of Canada Sports Betting, the need for a more personalized approach to the newly regulated market in Ontario, and the major differences between sports bettors in Canada and the United States.

Better Collective, a global sports betting media group providing bookmaker information and educational platforms that empower and enhance the betting experience for sports fans and iGamers, acquired the assets of Canada Sports Betting in March for a maximum purchase price of $23.5 million (USD).

Montreal casino dealer strike ongoing

Montreal casino dealers are still striking over working conditions and poor pay.

Demonstrations continued Wednesday at the Loto-Quebec offices in downtown Montreal, as unionized workers with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) are still without a collective agreement.

Roughly 545 workers have been without a collective agreement with Loto-Quebec since April 1, 2020, and they’ve been striking since May 21 of this year.

“Each week we are out on strike costs Loto-Quebec the equivalent of one year of added costs of a new and acceptable collective agreement. We are in week three of our strike. As we see it, we should have settled a long time ago,” CUPE union representative Jean-Pierre Proulx said in a post on CUPE’s website.

“In 28 years, the negotiations for the six previous collective agreements covering croupiers had only resulted in one strike day. We’re wondering what is currently going on with Loto-Quebec’s new management team that has been in place for a year now. We are demanding a meeting with CEO Jean-Francois Bergeron to take stock of the situation,” added Proulx.

The union says 55% of Casino de Montreal croupiers, or dealers, have sustained some form of musculoskeletal disorder (mostly tendinitis) since the start of their careers. Workers also want increased break times and pay.

Loto-Quebec has challenged most of the claims and believes wages for its dealers at the casino in Montreal are already 20% higher than market value.

The casino is still operating at close to normal staffing levels despite the rotating strikes.

Two major gaming conferences conclude in Toronto

That’s a wrap!

Toronto played host to two major gaming conferences this week — SIGMA World’s Gaming Festival and the Canadian Gaming Summit (CGS).

Many key industry stakeholders were ping-ponging between the two events throughout the week and crowding the local eateries and pubs during the evening hours.

SIGMA’s event featured a live esports tournament and concluded with a performance from recording artist Fat Joe.

CGS, although a little more subdued, provided industry stakeholders with a plethora of information regarding the opening of Ontario’s market. The trade visitation floor was buzzing, and it was standing-room only at times, when some of the keynote speakers grabbed the mic over the course of three days at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

There will be much more to come on Sports Handle next week regarding some of the interesting discussions and developments from the CGS.

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