On Monday, IGT and the British Columbia Lottery Corp (BCLC) announced that the province’s gamblers now had access to IGT’s famed Powerbucks seven-figure jackpot pools via slots at BCLC’s 33 gaming venues, as well as via the mobile and desktop versions of BCLC’s online gambling site, PlayNow.com.
BCLC is also celebrating the return of National Football League action to PlayNow’s sports betting section. People typically associate Canada with hockey, and with the World Cup of Hockey about to kick off in earnest, it’s natural to think that the NFL would take a back seat.
BCLC spokesman Doug Cheng told CTV News that the total volume of National Hockey League wagers was indeed higher than the NFL, although Cheng chalked this up to the longer NHL season. On a per game basis, more money and wagers are placed on the NFL than on any other sport via PlayNow.
Combining PlayNow and the land-based Sports Action product, the NFL garnered over 1.1m wagers in the province worth a total of $14.6m during the 2015-16 NFL season. The average online NFL wager in BC is around $20. The Super Bowl remains the single most wagered on game in BC, garnering handle worth $430k this January.
The overall numbers don’t sound all that impressive considering BC’s population of 4m, but bear in mind that provincial monopolies like BCLC must adhere to Canadian sports betting restrictions, which allow for parlay wagers only. As a result, discerning bettors choose to wager via any one of the multitude of internationally licensed online betting platforms, which offer a much broader variety of wagering options.
Canadian parliamentarians could potentially vote to relax those restrictions on Sept. 21, when bill C-221 comes up for another round of debate in the House of Commons. The bill would amend Canada’s Criminal Code to permit single-game wagering, but the ruling Liberal party has expressed opposition to any such change.