The legal market for official Ontario online sports betting providers is live and now several months old. Plenty of top providers have moved to become licensed by the AGCO & integrate into the iGaming Ontario system. We know sports betting, and we've been writing about all the providers that were going to come to Ontario legally. Now it's time to name our top Ontario sports betting providers, with a bit of a snapshot about each and why we recommend them. They are bet365, Betway, Sports Interaction, BetVictor, Unibet & BetRivers. We also explain the various reasons why we will not recommend various new Ontario sportsbook brands out of the USA.
Before you get reading, if you are truly new to betting in Ontario, we have one big tip for you: if possible, avoid using credit cards for your sportsbook or casino deposits. Even though Ontario is a fully legal market, credit card companies treat transactions to any gaming provider as cash advances, not purchases. Thus, even if you pay off your balance every month, interest will begin to accrue from the moment of the transaction, plus your card company will charge a $5 fee for the privilege. In other words, even though the betting site will not charge a fee for their use, credit cards are a convenient, but expensive payment option. Look to use quick & secure bank debit or transfer services like Interac, Instadebit, iDebit or the like.
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With over 80 million customers, bet365 is essentially the biggest sports betting brand in the world. With bet365, you get the most intuitive, quickest betting platforms, the most extensive betting market coverage across all sports, which includes world-class in-play betting. Their 'same game parlay' feature lets you build a combination bet your way for NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB & big soccer matches (many betting sites are limited to soccer for SGPs). They also have the most robust 'early cashout' feature we have ever reviewed, which lets you potentially secure a partial win before your event reaches its natural end. Plus you get access to their top-tier online casino and unrivaled esports betting within the Ontario context.
How is bet365 so good? A long time ago, their CEO knew that the trend for sports betting was toward mobile. She started bet365 on a path that would ensure their product was unbeatable from your phone, well over a decade ago, even while we were on 3G services. Now on 4G & 5G, it just does not get any better. The numbers don't lie, the bet365 product wins - and we haven't even mentioned that you can stream NFL regular season games, La Liga & thousands of other live events on their platform with a funded & active account.
bet365 cares about Responsible Gambling too, which is something we want to see in the providers we recommend to our fellow Ontarians. Their Responsible Gaming ads were the ones we noticed most often during the NHL playoffs in 2022, highlighting important player tools like "taking a time out" or setting deposit limits. It's not just in Ontario where they care this way. In the UK, the most mature betting market in the world, they are the number one monetary contributor to RG charities & initiatives.
If you want to get started betting in Ontario and you've never bet online before, there is no better option for you than bet365 - period. Play using 'Decimal' (Proline's odds format), 'American' or 'Fractional' formats. Switch this at the base of their site. As you will read below, this optionality is not a given at several Ontario licensed operators.
You might recognize the Betway brand from over 20 club and league partnerships they have around the world, including several NHL, NBA, EPL, Bundesliga & La Liga teams. Betway is also known for its super-quick and highly intuitive sportsbook platform. Their Ontario site is now properly tailored to Canadian tastes and terminology. Find excellent in-play betting and a Bet Builder feature for same game parlays on top soccer matches. You will also find their early 'Cash Out' feature is widely available and noted next to each available betting market with a little green 'CO' symbol. This feature lets you potentially secure a partial win before your event reaches its natural conclusion.
Betway also provides access to live dealer and online casino games from the same account, as well as one of the best Ontario esports betting experiences you can find. With millions of customers around the world, Canada and now Ontario is perhaps the most important market for Betway and its parent company, "Super Group", which is traded on the NYSE.
The default odds format is 'Decimal' (Proline's odds format), but 'American' or 'Fractional' formats are available to switch at the top of the site from your computer, or within the mobile menu from your phone. As you might read below, this option to switch is not always given at certain Ontario licensed operators.
The answer is simple, but it's a bit of a secret that no one will talk about. There is more opportunity for 'sportsbook review sites' to make more money in referring other brands that are completely new to the Ontario market.
Think about this for a second. Both bet365 and Betway have attracted and retained thousands and thousands of Ontario players with their world-class gaming products in their time as 'grey market' operators since the years 2000 & 2006 respectively. All of these Ontario players will have been shifted to the new legal market platforms on iGaming Ontario.
Here's the rub: Once a person has a bet365 or Betway account, a 'sportsbook review site' cannot refer that person to bet365 or Betway again. They can only refer 'new players'. However, since new US brands like FanDuel and BetMGM have never served Ontario, the opportunity for 'review sites' to refer new customers and leverage their reader traffic efficiently with them, is far, far greater - even though the gaming products and operations are inferior for you the player, in our opinion.
We understand this dynamic fully. There is more 'opportunity' for us at SNBET to recommend 'new' brands. But here we have bet365 at #1 and Betway at #2 because at this moment, that is the honest truth, despite these already being the most dominant brands in the province, with the most players. We want completely new players to online betting in Ontario to know where the truth lies - these are the best betting platforms. So when you see a 'sportsbook review site' for Ontario that has different brands at the top of their recommended lists, you KNOW they are merely looking to maximize their own opportunities.
Who is SNBET & why might you care?
Since you can't access our 'About us' page in Ontario at the moment, we're actually a Canadian company that knows the global online betting business. We were tired of all the foreign-owned 'sportsbook review sites' that take advantage of Canadians with poor information & lies in order to profit. SNBET.ca was developed in 2020 in part to reveal these shady practices & help point Canadians toward the most reputable online sportsbook providers in the market and this includes the newly legal Ontario sports betting marketplace.
Prior to the opening of iGaming Ontario, Sports Interaction was as close as you could come to a true Canadian betting site, run from First Nations sovereign lands and the remote gaming jurisdiction of Kahnawake, southwest of Montreal. For years, SIA has been investing in Canadian sport, sponsoring numerous CFL clubs, which it still does. Furthermore, profits in part, went to Kahnawake First Nations communities, rather than simply to a truly "offshore" betting company. Now that they are owned by gaming giant, Entain, traded on the LSE, they have become an official iGaming Ontario provider, & Mohawk communities still have a stake in the company. That's their story, but what's on offer?
With SIA, you get the same super-quick & light betting site that they have always had. No app & the related data privacy concerns, just a well-laid out & responsive betting site & online casino on all devices. SIA only serves Ontario (via iGaming Ontario) and the rest of Canada via Kahnawake, no other national markets. Thus, when it comes to their odds for single games for the most popular leagues & betting markets, they can afford to offer margins less than 5%, as they take a good volume of wagers. This margin level or 'sportsbook hold' is reasonably competitive, as some top providers often have margins at 6% (which means the margin or 'hold' is actually 20% higher, not 1% higher).
Where SIA may fall down a bit on the odds value is for the various outright winner markets on popular Canadian teams. Since they only serve Ontario & the rest of Canada, they will take a disproportionate amount of wagers on the Canadian "public teams" to win it all, which means the odds for these teams will inevitably need to move lower compared to other providers that serve a broader geography of customers for their overall business, taking bets on a wider variety of teams. This is not a huge problem, just something to keep in mind for these outright winner markets if you happen to want to bet on a popular Canadian team to win, as the odds could be significantly higher for you elsewhere. The default odds format at SIA is 'Decimal' (like Proline), but 'American' & 'Fractional' formats are available. Switch these formats on your computer at the base of their site, or within the mobile menu.
Founded in the UK as "Victor Chandler" in 1946. BetVictor is the best of both worlds when it comes to sports betting in Ontario: You know you get amazing European and international sports coverage from a brand with significant UK heritage. Moreover, with a large Canadian customer base, grown through their various Premier League club marketing visibility, they have moved to offer highly competitive odds and coverage of the leagues and events that Canadians love most - the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB and more.
For years, on their international site, BetVictor offered a dedicated Canadian version of their service, and now they have moved to bring their excellent gaming platform within the legal Ontario sports betting and casino market. This includes both a Bet Builder and Cash Out feature. Default odds format at BetVictor Ontario is 'Decimal', but you can switch to 'American' or 'Fractional'. While their service is extremely well rounded, if your sports priorities are basketball, soccer and tennis, you must look at BetVictor seriously.
Founded in Sweden, with licenses in Ontario, six US states & many European nations, Unibet is one of the biggest betting brands on the planet. Known for their sustainable approach to online gambling, their parent company has a laudable target of having zero revenue from harmful gambling by 2023. That's who they are in a nutshell and they have an approach we really respect, but what does their Ontario betting experience offer?
Unibet gave birth to the Kambi sportsbook platform (they spun it off as its own company), which will be used by several Ontario licensed operators. It should be no surprise that Unibet gives you perhaps the best rendition of the Kambi platform, which includes excellent in-play betting & broad sports coverage with lots of betting markets & competitive odds. Their platform includes an early cash out feature, plus a 'Bet Builder' to create parlays as related to a single sporting event. This works on all top sports - including the NHL - which makes Unibet perhaps the best betting platform for Ontario's hardcore hockey fans. Play on all devices & get access via their website or mobile apps in any of the three main odds formats, 'Decimal', 'American' or 'Fractional'. Switch the odds format below the events on any screen. Unibet Ontario also offers RNG & live casino games.
After reading our discussion above about various new US brands, some might simply say: "Hey, you guys are just being negative about all the new American entrants to Ontario." If this is you, it's a good time to talk about BetRivers. As one of the completely new entrants to Ontario, their offering is the best of these in our opinion. Their implementation of the Kambi sportsbook platform is truly very good, no matter your device of preference. With the Kambi platform, you get access to BOTH a mobile betting app AND a mobile betting site. This addresses one of our main concerns, for those that care about their data privacy with regard to app usage.
Furthermore, the BetRivers same game parlay feature works on all the big leagues, including the NHL - which is not a given, even at our top providers. This is key for hockey fans. Their odds margins also tend to be really competitive. Most sportsbooks have a 5% to 6% margin on the popular betting markets like the Totals, Spreads & Money Lines, whereas BetRivers is often closer to 4% or even under it - meaning higher odds for you, more often. Coverage of more 'international' sports is also solid, (since they are on Kambi).
Finally, they have also shown a commitment to Responsible Gambling, holding themselves to a higher standard of RG than that which is mandated by the AGCO. From a marketing perspective, they also do this in a responsible way, through their podcast network, headed up in Canada by "Boomsies! - the Dan O'Toole podcast" and "The Bob McCown Podcast". This is something we really respect, and want to see from the brands we recommend.
In the end, BetRivers is our top, truly new entrant to Ontario's legal market (they were never in the so-called "grey market"), and they make it easy to get started with both PayPal & Interac. (PayPal is a rarity as a payment method in Ontario. If you like it, BetRivers is a great option for you.) Even though we might have them ranked at #6 they are truly a solid operator, with a great platform, known for excellent customer service when you require it.
This really comes down to two points. 1) Can you deposit and withdrawal significant amounts quickly and relatively seamlessly? 2) What are the available win limits at the given sportsbook?
When it comes to payments in Ontario, Interac can have transaction limits as high as $10k, however, some companies may not be able to transact more than $3k. Instadebit can transact as high as $20k and credit or debit cards can transact as high as $50k. Ideally, your betting site is offering you transaction limits like these, and we can tell you that bet365 works at the top of the range for all these methods.
When it comes to win limits, these tend to be segmented into tiers by sport, the various leagues, and by bet type. The bigger the leagues or competitions & the more popular the betting markets, the higher the limits. When it comes to iGaming Ontario betting sites with the highest win limits, bet365 has them as high as $4 million per day within its top tier soccer competitions & $1 million per day for main markets within NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, ATP & top golf events. When you combine these two aspects, this is why we rank bet365 as the number one Ontario betting site for true VIPs & high stakes bettors.
Betway would rank second in this respect. Their transaction limits are also relatively high. Plus, they have top tier soccer daily win limits at $500k, while NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB & ATP top out at $250k. These are higher than most every other iGaming Ontario operator outside bet365.
From a high stakes perspective, our other top sportsbooks do not really get up to the levels of these two. SIA does not work with win limits, but rather bet limits. Outside of 'sides' for the NFL, which can be as high as $5,500, SIA does not really have particularly high limits. BetVictor & Unibet have high win limits within top soccer competitions, but they are quite a bit lower when it comes to the so called "top 4" North American leagues. While all the brands we recommend are excellent sportsbooks, limits are limits. If you intend to wager at a level that could test the associated win limits of Ontario operators as a true high stakes player, bet365 & Betway are your #1 & #2 options.
We have also written extensively on the brands that we will not recommend for various reasons. We at SNBET could technically 'work with' just about any brand, if we liked their Ontario sports betting offering. We've received numerous requests from new Ontario brands that wanted to be listed & recommended on SNBET - but we don't recommend every brand to our fellow Ontarians - even though we are foregoing significant potential revenues in doing so. We stick to our principles and only recommend the operators that we feel offer the best options for sports betting & iCasino in the province. Why would we not recommend a given licensed Ontario operator? We have three main reasons.
1) Irresponsible marketing as we define it, not how the AGCO & iGaming Ontario define it.
2) Lack of choice in mobile sports betting: We want to see operators offer BOTH a mobile betting site and mobile app. Only offering an app is unacceptable in our eyes, given their serious data privacy concerns. Forcing app usage indicates an operator that likely wants to leverage your valuable data. We only recommend brands that give you a choice on this matter, or simply provide the more secure option of a mobile betting site. Brands including FanDuel, PointsBet & theScore Bet & DraftKings only offer mobile betting via apps. For us, this is crucial. So while we provide reviews on these Ontario betting providers, we do not include them in our group of recommended ones for this reason.
3) Poor product, with substandard sport & league coverage, which is typical of some US-focused providers. We want to see a great platform with lots of betting markets (ways to bet) and competitive odds value on all the sports that are popular in Canada - not just the 'big four' leagues & sports. If we see a poor platform or poor coverage of F1, cricket, rugby or soccer - we call it out as we see it.
If you don't care if your sportsbook provider advertises responsibly, that's up to you. If you don't care about your own data privacy, that's your preference. If you don't care about events outside the 'big four' leagues or having a top-level betting product, that's also up to you. But these are the things that are important to us in recommending a sportsbook company as we see them.
These are our opinions.
The main reason is the completely irresponsible marketing deal with then 25-year-old, 2021 NHL MVP, Connor McDavid, and in our opinion, some pretty awful advertising choices (see our tweet). Gambling regimes around the world have banned the use, not only of celebrities in gambling ads, but the use of people 25 and under - all in order to protect minors that would otherwise be easily influenced by such ads.
Mr. McDavid is a generational talent and hero to millions of young people across Canada. Even if he is only depicted as part of 'Responsible Gambling' messages that are beamed across the country, on any media platform, the fact remains that his identity as a role-model and hockey icon will be normalizing gambling and sports betting for minors in a significant fashion.
This marketing campaign would not fly in Spain, Belgium, Italy, Sweden or the UK given their regulations. Why is BetMGM pursuing it in Canada? Because the NHL and NHLPA allow it, and the AGCO has no rules against it (yet).
So no, we won't be supporting BetMGM in their efforts in Ontario. If you want to support them, that's up to you. Their betting product is pretty good, being honest, but not better than our recommended providers, in our opinion. Plus, their site still only uses 'Decimal' odds format at the time of writing, with no option to switch to 'American' or 'Fractional'. So if you like either of the latter two formats, you are out of luck at BetMGM.
All things considered, it's a hard pass on BetMGM from us.
We know BetMGM can't age-gate @cmcdavid97's mass media ads.— SNBET (@SNBET_ca) June 27, 2022
Then you have these: large-scale BetMGM Casino posters, some with #97 @ convenience stores in YYZ.
A 25 y/o #NHL icon stumping for 🎲🎰♠️ as kids buy milk or a summer treat.
Get'em while they're young, eh?@Ont_AGCO pic.twitter.com/6NOAxh1Dm6
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We know these words of advice might sound cliché, but here goes: Only wager what you can afford to lose. Keep it fun. When betting stops being fun, it's time to stop. If you set a deposit limit when you register your account, this helpful tool can be a backstop to ensure you do not chase your losses beyond the point you can afford. You've probably got people that rely upon you. Think about these people.
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