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Northern Exposure: DraftKings’ Wonky Launch, Betting Big On The Leafs


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

The Battle of Alberta

Everyone in Canada looked forward to the start of the Battle of Alberta, playoff edition, to start on Wednesday night, and the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers didn’t disappoint by combining for 15 goals!

Calgary entered the second-round playoff series as a -195 series favorite at FanDuel. The Flames are now -174 favorites to take Game 2 on Friday after earning a 9-6 victory in the series opener.

The flurry of goals in Game 1 set all kinds of franchise playoff records while obviously paying off bettors who took the over 6.5 goals. Despite the offensive outburst in the opener, oddsmakers are holding their totals around 6.5 goals for Game 2.

Canadian soccer stars Alphonso Davies, who emigrated to Edmonton from Africa as a young boy, and Sam Adekugbe, who emigrated to Calgary when he was 10 years old, made a friendly wager on their hometown hockey teams. The loser will donate $2,000 to the winning team’s charity foundation and will have to shame himself by wearing the opposition’s jersey.

DraftKings launch plagued with technical issues

DraftKings became the 18th operator to go live in Ontario on Wednesday afternoon, but the launch was not smooth.

As of Thursday morning, the sportsbook or casino apps were still not available for download in the Google Play Store for Android. Many bettors vented their frustrations on Twitter about sign-up issues, geolocation problems, and deposit fails. Some interested users simply couldn’t find the app to download.


Earlier this week, DraftKings sent out a memo to its daily fantasy sports players in the province, notifying them they’ll no longer be able to play both free and paid DFS contests with the operator.

FanDuel similarly shut down its DFS operations in the province after going live on April 4.

“FanDuel and DK could still offer [DFS] but there is no liquidity permitted in Ontario in the new market, which DFS needs to be successful — they could only create pools with Ontario players. Liquidity may be permitted in the future,” Canadian Gaming Association President and CEO Paul Burns previously told US Bets regarding the evolving DFS situation in Ontario.

DraftKings is expected to be a major player in Ontario’s new regulated market despite entering the space nearly seven weeks after initial launch. Other major operators such as bet365, FanDuel, BetMGM, Caesars, Rush Street Interactive, PointsBet, and Unibet have a significant head start on customer acquisitions in the province.

You Better Be-Leaf It

Don’t tell Ontario’s betting population that the Toronto Maple Leafs are cursed after they dropped their sixth straight opening playoff series.

The Leafs apparently were hugely backed at the PROLINE + sportsbook in Ontario despite the growing pessimism surrounding their playoff woes.

They played the Tampa Bay Lightning four times last week in their opening round playoff series and were responsible for an astounding 34.5% of all NHL hockey sales over that time at the online sportsbook.

Even after Tampa clawed back and forced a final and deciding game in the series, money poured in from hopeful Toronto bettors on Game 7:

  • 66% of moneyline bets were on the Leafs
  • 86% of puckline bets (-1) were on the Leafs
  • 66% of puckline bets (-1.5) were on the Leafs
  • 59% of O/U bets were on the over

Tampa put Toronto out of its misery with a 2-1 victory in Game 7 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

“We are expecting a drop-off of NHL sales going forward with the Leafs out and less games overall,” said a spokesperson for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation in an email.

Prior to the opening of Ontario’s regulated iGaming and sports betting market April 4, PROLINE (retail) and PROLINE + (online) were the only legal sports betting options in the province.

Toronto’s early exit from the postseason is also a tough break for FanDuel and PointsBet. Both operators are official sports betting partners of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Argonauts, and Toronto FC.

Montreal casino walkout

Gaming dealers at the Casino de Montreal went on a surprise four-hour walkout last Saturday afternoon in protest of their expired collective employee agreement.

Promptly at 4 p.m local time, dealers walked off the gaming floor and exited the casino to denounce the stalled contract talks with Loto-Quebec, which manages the province’s casinos.

Workers voted 97.4% in favor of actions up to and including a strike, as they say the employer has cut hours and pay following COVID-19 pandemic layoffs.

“What is particular about this situation is that even if the employer called back all dealers, only 60 percent of the tables would be operational,” union representative Jean-Pierre Proulx said in a release. “We have already lost a lot of workers. If a dealer doesn’t reopen their gaming table, the players will go elsewhere. Government-run casinos are the place where gambling is framed in the safest and most responsible way. They must therefore be protected because they generously fill the coffers of the government.”

The agreement between the workers and the casino operator, which expired on March 31, applies to 521 employees. Contract negotiations will continue this week with the help of a mediator.

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