Any remaining odds the Buffalo Bills would relocate across the border into Ontario were squashed in late March, though NFL fans in the province shouldn’t lose hope.
On radio station WNYC, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul discussed the Bills possibly moving to another city, including Toronto. She’s from western New York and had heard the talk of the Bills relocating to Toronto for years.
The Bills and the state of New York announced an agreement in late March to build a $1.4 billion new home for the team in Buffalo.
“I was aware that they were being reached out to by other cities that have lost teams before. That is real,” Hochul said on the show. “Their stadium was starting to crumble, something had to happen, and if there wasn't a decision done soon, they had definitely other options. My entire life, there was talk of them going to Toronto. In fact, a significant performer, she was coming forward to plan a number of years ago to take them to Toronto.”
There’s no doubt Toronto, with its longstanding love of the Argonauts of the Canadian Football League, would be a smashing success as an NFL market in the future. And Ontario sports betting would sure benefit in a huge way.
But even without a team, Ontario’s new regulated sports betting market figures to be NFL heavy.
Ontario a Hotbed of NFL Betting Activity
The first real data point for Ontario NFL betting came in early February when Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp.’s PROLINE saw an uptick in betting activity around Super Bowl LVI.
That game drew large demand for wagering, according to a company spokesperson, which bodes well for the future of Ontario NFL betting, given the fact there will be more than 50 operators live in the province by the time the league kicks off its 2022 regular season in September.
Ever since legalized single-event sports betting in Canada was passed, all eyes have been on the National Football League, which remains one of the most popular betting targets — both in Canada and in the U.S.
In early February, PROLINE was named the first official NFL sportsbook partner in Canada.
Toronto’s television market (8.187 million homes) is the fourth largest in all of North America, behind Chicago (9.070 million), Los Angeles (17.255 million), and New York City (19.804 million).
That means Toronto would have no issue drawing eyes on Sunday afternoons and evenings. A NFL team would give the province a grand slam in the “Big Four” professional sports, joining the Blue Jays (MLB), Raptors (NBA), and Maple Leafs (NHL).
Argonauts CFL Season Approaching
Canada’s biggest city has long been a football hotbed, thanks to the exploits of the Argonauts in the CFL.
The franchise dates to 1873, representing the oldest football team in all of North America, with 17 Grey Cups between 1917 and 2017.
Ontario sports bettors can hang their hat on having the Argos to bet on when the 2022 CFL regular season kicks off June 9, even if they won’t have the Bills relocating to the city.
Toronto opens the regular season June 16 against Montreal. BetMGM Sportsbook Ontario has the Argos at +700 to win the Grey Cup. Winnipeg is the early CFL favorite at +250 followed by Saskatchewan at +450 and Hamilton at +500.
Winnipeg beat Hamilton 33-25 in overtime to capture the 108th Grey Cup last December.