Home » As action heats up between Canucks vs Oilers, so does the betting

As action heats up between Canucks vs Oilers, so does the betting

BCLC says Game 1 of the Canucks’ first-round series against the Oilers smashed the record for money wagered on a single hockey game

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You know those sports drinking games, the ones where you take a shot each time, say, Connor McDavid whines to a ref or Corey Perry does something stupid on the ice?

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If you played the same game every time a betting ad appeared on your screen you likely wouldn’t be able to walk to the fridge by the beginning of the second period.

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Single-event sports betting has been legal in Canada since 2021 and unlike, say, ads for alcohol, star athletes are allowed to pitch betting sites.

And with the buzz around the Vancouver Canucks making their first playoff appearance before in-arena crowds in 12 years, that’s translated to a lot of wagers being made with PlayNow, the only legal online sports book in B.C., operated by the B.C. Lottery Corporation (BCLC).

Game 1 of the Canucks’ first-round series against Nashville, for instance, broke a record for money wagered on a single hockey game, a BCLC spokesman said.

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Game 1 against the Edmonton Oilers smashed that record, although BCLC doesn’t release exact numbers.

canucks vs oilers betting
If the Canucks emerge the winner from their second-round series against the Oilers, bettors in B.C. stand to win $140,000, according to PlayNow. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia

“We typically don’t release the dollar figures for this kind of information due to competitive reasons, but I can tell you the amount of bets for both (series-opening games) were more than double what we would see in an average NHL playoff game on PlayNow,” the spokesman said.

What he could say is that if the Canucks emerge the winner from their second-round series against the Oilers, bettors in B.C. stand to win $140,000, according to PlayNow.

Were the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup, PlayNow is looking at payouts of more than $3 million.

The irony of all those betting adverts with Wayne Gretzky, all those annoying digitally produced ads zipping around the boards during play, is that B.C. residents are ineligible to bet on those sites because they are Ontario-based betting shops, not PlayNow.

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That’s because in 2022 Ontario allowed private operators in on the action and only people who have an Ontario IP address can bet through them.

“A lot of those ads are for websites that are not licensed in B.C. and, in many cases, are not accessible to B.C. residents,” said Luke Clarke, a psychology professor at UBC and director of the Centre for Gambling Research.

“But of course those ads can still be triggering for people with gambling problems, for example, and they’re still contributing to, I think, a very real concern about the normalization of gambling in sports.”

It’s not the final outcome you can bet on.

When the Canucks-Oilers series began at Rogers Arena on May 8, for instance, the Canucks were overwhelming underdogs among hockey experts and bettors. A $10 wager on Vancouver winning its Round 2 series against the Edmonton Oilers would have paid out $30; the same bet on the Oilers winning four games would have paid out $14.

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BCLC also pointed out three Canucks players — Quinn Hughes, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser — are having a lot of bets placed on them to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs.

As well, you can bet on individuals’ performances even as a game is still being played.

“When you combine that with smartphone-based mobile access to these websites you then have the potential for what I would call very small-scale events and that actually changes the fundamental nature of that gambling product,” Clark said.

“It makes the betting much faster … there’s quite a lot of research from other parts of the world that had introduced that form before Canada did to indicate it’s a much more problematic form (of betting).”

gordmcintyre@postmedia.comx.com/gordmcintyre


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