Canada is considered the birthplace of ice hockey, the nation’s official winter sport, and serious business, with 7 NHL franchises, and numerous other professional and amateur level leagues scattered across the country. That business is about to get bigger.
On June 22nd the Canadian Senate approved Bill C-218 legalizing single-game sports betting in Canada, supplementing pool betting which has been legal for decades.
The private member’s bill amends Criminal Code provisions that prohibited gambling on single sports games. The changes are in direct response to pressure from American casinos, off-shore wagering entities, and illegal bookmakers who have been profiting from Canadian betting action. The bill now awaits royal assent to become law.
Betting in Canada
This change in the law will undoubtedly increase interest in NHL games as ice hockey-mad punters traverse the various promotions and deals on offer with bookmakers operating in Canada. The new legislation is also likely to attract new betting operators to Canada who will compete with each other to offer the best bonuses to attract customers to their operations and sites in these four markets.
1. Toronto Maple Leafs
Along Lake Ontario’s northwestern shore, Toronto is the capital of the province of Ontario, the largest city in Canada, and home to the on-the-rise Toronto Maple Leafs. Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto averages over 19,000 fans per night and the surrounding restaurants and bars are packed with fans during home and away games.
The franchise has won 13 Stanley Cup championships, second only to the 24 championships of the Montreal Canadiens. Their last championship was in 1967, which was also the last Stanley Cup Finals in the Original Six Era. The current 53-season drought between championships is currently the longest in the NHL.
The Maple Leafs are owned by Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) which also owns the Toronto Raptors (NBA), the Toronto Argonauts (CFL), and the Toronto FC (MLS). MLSE also owns and operates Scotiabank Arena, BMO Field, and Coca-Cola Coliseum. Currently, the Leafs have an estimated value of $1.5 billion, making them the most valuable franchise in the NHL.
2. Montreal Canadiens
Montreal is the largest city in Canada’s Quebec province. An island city surrounded by the Saint Lawrence River on the East and the Prairies River on the west, Montreal is named after Mt. Royal, the hill at the cities heart. With a metropolitan population of over 4-million, Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada.
Established in 1909 as one of the founding teams of the National Hockey Association, the Canadiens won their first championship in the 1915–16 season, In all, the Canadiens have won 23 Stanley Cups, 10 more than any other hockey franchise and second only to the New York Yankees in terms of professional sports titles.
According to Forbes, the Montreal Canadiens are the third most valuable franchise in the NHL, worth $1.34 billion. The franchise has been owned by the Molson brothers through Groupe CH since 2009. Prior to that, the team was owned by American businessman George Gillett.
3. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks were founded as an expansion franchise along with the Buffalo Sabres in 1970. The team adopted the Canucks name from a team that played in the Western Hockey League and the Pacific Coast Hockey League between 1945 and 1970. The team has never won a Stanley Cup but has reached the Finals three times. They lost to the New York Islanders in 1982, the New York Rangers in 1994, and most recently to the Boston Bruins in 2011.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Canucks are valued at $725 million, making them the third most valuable franchise in Canada behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, and the eighth-most valuable in the NHL. The team is owned by Canucks Sports & Entertainment and led by chairman Francesco Aquilini. Aquilani is a Canadian businessman, investor, and philanthropist.