With seven of the league’s 32 teams based in Canada, the National Hockey League is a major sports draw in Canada. This draw includes both ice hockey fans and bettors alike. In fact, ice hockey is considered the country’s national sport along with lacrosse (and possibly curling).
The start of this season’s NHL Stanley Cup Finals will undoubtedly boost that draw over the course of the best-of-seven series. The Tampa Bay Lightning are representing the Eastern Conference and the Colorado Avalanche are the top team from the West.
This year’s Stanley Cup Finals offer a brand new twist for Canadian sports bettors. For the first time ever, they can legally bet on individual games. The new law went into effect in August of 2021. Prior to the change, the only form of legal sports betting in Canada was on multi-team parlays.
Adding to the excitement is Ontario’s new commercial sports betting industry. Prior to April 4 of this year, sports betting in every Canadian province was operated by government-owned lottery corporations. Ontario decided to expand that offering to include commercial sportsbook operators.
This paves the way for Ontario hockey fans betting on the games through operators such as FanDuel, DraftKings and BetMGM. Penn National’s theScore Bet traces its roots to Toronto as a homegrown sportsbook mobile app.
The early sports betting market in Ontario has been driven by the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Both teams qualified for the postseason but each made an early exit.
There is also added betting interest on MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays. The recent start of the 2022 Canadian Football League has provided an added spark. Both the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats are CFL teams based in Ontario.
The 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Finals should be the biggest betting event on the board since Ontario first launched commercial sportsbook operators. A Canadian team in the league’s championship series would have provided a major boost. However, Tampa Bay and Colorado are two very popular teams.
The Lightning have won the last two Stanley Cup titles. Last season, they beat the Montreal Canadiens in five games. This was the first time since 2011 that a Canadian team advanced to the NHL Finals.
You would have to go all the way back to 1993 to find the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. That season, Montreal beat the Los Angles Kings in five games to win the league championship.
Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.
The featured image for this post was sourced on Getty Images.
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