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NorthStar Bets Ontario Review 2024

NorthStar Bets is the legal Ontario sports betting brand owned by Torstar Corporation, the parent company of the Toronto Star newspaper.  If you are a Star subscriber, you will no doubt have noticed many ads within their content for Northstar Bets.  The company has invested in TV ad campaigns that run on stations across the country.  They also hired popular Canadian NHL journalist, Chris Johnston, in order to increase their visibility in the market.  However, the reality is that all this content and advertising leaks out of Ontario, into other provinces across the country, which leads to a key question for many.


Who can play at NorthStar Bets in Canada?

Know that if you are in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces or Territories, you can now play at NorthStar Bets, but through their dot-com site, based out of the Kahnawake "offshore" gaming jurisdiction. In Ontario, you would play at their dot-ca site. Like NorthStarBets-dot-ca, all of our recommended legal Ontario betting sites also offer their "offshore" versions to players across the country. There does appear to be a substantive difference between the Ontario and "Rest of Canada" versions, as the latter does not appear to be on the Kambi sportsbook platform.  The NorthStarBets-dot-com version for those outside Ontario, will not have the same feature-set as the Ontario version, at least with regard to their sportsbook.


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How is the NorthStar Bets Ontario sportsbook platform?

NorthStar Bets is on the Kambi sportsbook platform.  Kambi is a B2B sportsbook software provider that was actually spun out of Swedish Gaming company, Unibet.  (Unibet was active, but will be exiting the Ontario market.) Kambi's platform is essentially the gold standard when it comes to a sportsbook platform that an operator brand can go out and essentially rent.  In Ontario, BetRivers and LeoVegas brands also use the Kambi platform.  But you would be mistaken if you think that being on this platform means that your sports betting experience will be the same across these brands.  LeoVegas for example has one of the worst interfaces we've ever come across in sports betting in general.  We don't know how they landed on their implementation of Kambi's usually slick interface, but theirs is awful.  BetRivers has an excellent version of the Kambi platform in place, that is unique in its own way. Thankfully, the NorthStar Bets version falls closer to this than to LeoVegas.  The NorthStar Bets sportsbook is actually very good when it comes to the mechanics & usability of their platform.


Does NorthStar Bets have Same Game Parlays & a cash out feature?

The answer is "yes" to both. Again, being on the Kambi platform gives you very good versions of these bettor tools and features.  Most Ontario sportsbooks offer them to varying degrees, some however offer SGPs on a limited number of sports or leagues, so you might not be able to build your same game parlay on the NHL or the NFL.  With NorthStar, you get to build your SGP on all the Big Four leagues, plus top soccer events.  Their cash out feature, when available, may also let you take a partial payout before your event has reached its natural end. Find your available bets to cash out early in your "Open Bets' area of the site or app.


Unique to NorthStar Bets: "Sports Insights"

Since they are owned by Torstar, NorthStar has no shortage of sports and sports betting writers that can contribute (sometimes) worthwhile pieces for your consumption.  If you enjoy reading all kinds of analysis before you make your wagers, this is a nice piece of differentiation for you, compared to all other Ontario sportsbooks.  When you are browsing the "Sports Insights" section, if you find a piece of analysis that you agree with, NorthStar provides convenient links or buttons within the article, so you may add the highlighted bet or parlay to your bet slip as described, saving you from doing this manually.  This can be pretty helpful if you find a parlay with several legs to add.  While this is a pretty cool integration, we don't see any record of success or failure on the proposed picks as found in the "Sports Insights" section.  As with any sort of analysis that gives out picks, take most of what you read with a grain of salt.  But in the end, if you find it fun and helpful, great!


NorthStar Bets Ontario from your computer

Unlike some brands that use Kambi, NorthStar's computer layout uses your entire screen width for the use of sports betting and their sports content. Other providers often mix in other elements into the width of your display, or they just don't use the full width at all, preferring to have dead space.  NorthStar makes full use of your display, so you get nice, big buttons or odds tiles for when you look to add a bet to your bet slip.  Once you have clicked to open a given league, competition or game, you also get to see all of the available betting market categories without having to scroll off screen, or make use of a dropdown selector.  You see everything.  We also really like the dark colour-scheme, with black and dark blue as the back ground, using white text.  Convenience links are truly tailored to the Ontario audience, given they only serve Ontario.  Overall, NorthStar has done well to create a very clean, quick, user-friendly interface, organised for what Ontario bettors tend to play most.


Northstar Bets Canada from mobile

Since NorthStar is on Kambi, you can access their service via their mobile site or their mobile app.  Your login process will be a little cleaner or quicker with the app, given it can place your location properly all-in-one.  If you use their betting site from Ontario, you may need to use a separate location authenticator app as you login. (This should not be the case from the "rest of Canada" on their -dot-com site.)  If you prefer the privacy of a betting site over a betting app that can always track you as you play, NorthStar Bets can give this to you.  Both their mobile site and mobile app are as good as their layout from a computer: Intuitive and quick.  


NorthStar Bets approach to odds value

Kambi sports betting odds always tend to edge toward better-than-average when we are talking about the "Big Four" leagues.  The odds at NorthStar Bets confirm this.  When you look at a point spread market for the NBA or NFL, you will see odds that look like 1.91 / 1.91.  At many Ontario sportsbooks, these odds will often start at 1.90 / 1.90.  (In American odds format, these both look like -110 / -110, so you might miss the difference with American.)  While it is just a difference of 0.01 using the Decimal odds format, the difference in the associated odds margin that is being charged is actually about 12%.  (The margins are 4.71% and 5.26% respectively).  The bottom line here if you are only interested in the main markets for NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL betting, you will get average-to-good value from NorthStar Bets.  That's the positive, but there is some negative to consider.


NorthStar Bets "international" sports coverage is lacking

If you like international sports, like rugby or cricket for example, this is where NorthStar Bets falls down.  We can understand why it won't be their focal point.  When we did the original review in early 2023, they had but one international cricket match covered with betting markets.  No club leagues at all were available.  Compare this to all our top Ontario sportsbooks, including those on the same Kambi sportsbook platform, which had full coverage of all international matches, plus the Big Bash League in Australia and the Super Smash League in New Zealand. 

For rugby, NorthStar Bets did have good coverage of events and markets, but the odds on offer were certainly depressed compared to our recommended providers that look to offer odds at the same level as those for the NFL or NBA main markets.  At NorthStar Bets, main rugby market odds look like 1.87 / 1.87, which is not competitive with our recommended brands that are licensed in Ontario, but which are also present in international markets that bet on rugby more often.

Cricket & rugby may of course may have a relatively small audience for watchers and bettors in Ontario, but if you are of UK, Caribbean or South Asian heritage and want to bet on the IPL or other popular international events, NorthStar Bets just can't do it for you at the level you would hope.   Their international sports coverage just cannot compare to our recommended brands.

Why is this the case?  A brand like bet365 Ontario owns their tech stack and already serves players in the parts of the world where cricket and rugby (or another sport) is king.  bet365 players in Ontario get the benefit of this scale, as they simply tap into what they already offer to the world. 

Contrast this with a small, Canada-only brand like NorthStar Bets that needs to weigh up how much of the Kambi sportsbook platform they wish to offer to their players, because they have to pay Kambi for the privilege of better coverage.  Brands like BetRivers simply have the scale to be able to afford fuller coverage from the same Kambi platform.



NorthStar Bets Ontario payment methods

NorthStar Bets accepts Interac, iDebit, Visa & Mastercard credit and debit cards.  Remember that all online gaming payments via credit card in Canada, even to "legal" sites are treat as "cash advances".  This likely comes with the highest interest rates on your particular card, plus a flat fee - even if you always pay your balance.  Use debit or transfer methods when you can, no matter if you play with NorthStar Bets or any other Ontario sportsbook or casino site.


Does NorthStar Bets have online & live dealer casino games?

Yes.  NorthStar signed with Playtech in order to offer regular online casino games that are based in Random Number Generation, along with their various live dealer games as run by real people on camera, from their gaming studios. Playtech is certainly an excellent gaming supplier.  If you browse NorthStar here, you will find a nice array of both slots games and RNG-based classic casino games.  You don't get the widest array of games that we have seen, or games from other popular publisher studios, but there is a good deal of choice, since it is Playtech.

On the Live Dealer front, things are a little more limited.  While we would say that NorthStar Bets Ontario has a good selection of live game shows for you to play, you really appear to get the basics in terms of the rest of the games that you might expect from a live dealer casino site.  They don't tend to have the number of game variations of blackjack, roulette and baccarat, or other games that you'll see our recommended legal Ontario Interac casinos.  Operator brands that have partnered with studios Evolution Gaming or Pragmatic Play tend to have a much wider variety of these live dealer games, and we've highlighted them for you.

Lastly, we would highlight that NorthStar Bets does not appear to allow you to play or try any casino games or slots for free.  While no live dealer games are ever available to play for free in Ontario at any brand operator, there are plenty of brands that allow you to try most or all of their RNG-based slots and casino games for free.  Some brands allow free play even before you sign up, while others may allow it after your registration.  We highlight these free play options in the page found on the preceding link. Simply see our casino comparison guide.


NorthStar Bets bottom line: For most, a good option, but we have reservations

From our perspective, we don't "work with" NorthStar Bets at all. The brands that we recommend have all the key positive points that NorthStar has, but not the big hole as found on the international sports coverage side of things.  With that stated, we have to say that for most bettors in Ontario, NorthStar Bets will have a solid platform.  After all, most players are focused on the sports that tend to be most popular in the province - the NFL, NHL, NBA & MLB, tennis, MMA and golf.  If you don't expect to bet outside these main leagues & sports very much, NorthStar will give you an excellent user experience on their version of the Kambi platform.  This includes Same Game Parlays that will work the "Big Four" leagues, which is not something that all Ontario providers can claim.

On the other side of things, if your sporting tastes tend to spread into the international realm, NorthStar is going to be more limited than you might hope, especially compared to the providers that we recommend.  While they have now launched to serve the "rest of Canada" from "offshote", that market is already fairly saturated given its history in the "grey market" in the country.  History is not on their side in this regard when we look at similar scenarios of the past, where other media brands that have tried to get into betting and gaming.  However, if they are persistent and patient, things could turn out differently for NorthStar Bets than they did for SunBets in the UK.  By all accounts, NorthStar has a far better product than SunBets had in the UK, which gives them a more than fighting chance to succeed.  In the end though, if you like the idea of supporting Canadian journalism as a consequence of your sports betting and casino gaming, NorthStar Bets has a pretty compelling option for you to consider - across Canada.

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