TORONTO — Gamblers looking to bet on single sporting events have a new option as of Friday morning.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. said single-event betting went live through its new sportsbook Proline+ on Friday and quickly racked up a following.
"We began accepting bets very early in the morning...and we've been really pleased with the volume that we're already seeing on the platform, so it bodes very well for us," said Duncan Hannay, OLG's president and chief executive.
The first single-game bet rolled in at 5:03 a.m. and was a wager on that night's baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Minnesota Twins.
That bet and OLG's Proline+ launch was possible because of federal legislation that came into effect Friday, allowing Canadians to legally place bets on the outcome of single sporting events.
The lowest number of bets gamblers were able to place previously was three through a parlay system, but those who enjoy wagering long pushed for the chance to test their luck on single events.
As legislation wound through the House of Commons and Senate earlier this year and received royal assent in June, the Canadian Football League lauded it as a way of moving sports wagering "out of the shadows and into the light of day where it belongs.”
Politicians also promoted it as a way to compete with large foreign sites like Bet365 and Bodog, which the Canadian Gaming Association has said brings in more than $4 billion from bettors in the country every year.
While OLG was among the first Canadian organizations to roll out a single betting product, Hannay anticipates the market will be "highly competitive."
But he thinks OLG will be able to keep up with rivals because of the breadth of its offering, its track record on security and its commitment to reinvesting 100 per cent of its proceeds into provincial priorities like health care.
"We know that matters materially after researching this with our customers and so...we think we have a competitive advantage," he said.
While Proline+ is only available online for now, he thinks the agency will also gain an edge next year when it will bring single-event wagering, dynamic odds, more games and new sports to its retail Proline offering.
"That also gives us a competitive distribution point that others won't have in the province," he said.
But for now, he's focused on growing awareness around Proline+, which accepts pre-match or live bets placed from anywhere in the province on any device by anyone 19 or older.
Proline+ has a cash out feature for select events that allows for a partial payout on a bet before the final result is known and deposits all winnings directly into bettor accounts.
The offering features chances to bet on North American and some international leagues, including English Premier League.
It is currently offering gambling opportunities for hockey, football, basketball, soccer and baseball, as well as tennis, boxing, golf and mixed martial arts.
Hannay wants to eventually expand the number of sports and events that people can bet on.
He said, "Stay tuned for more on that front, but this is really just the starting point for Proline+."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 27, 2021.
Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press