Ontario bettors putting digital wallets behind Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays' George Springer dives into third Wednesday, May 11, 2022, in New York. Photo by John Minchillo/AP

When it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays, it’s not only their faithful followers who root, root, root for the home team.

Since online sports wagering was legalized in Ontario at the beginning of April, bettors have quickly put their digital wallets behind the Blue Jays. And, as the Jays limped into Tampa on Friday for the start of a weekend series in a four-game losing skid, the books expect their customers to continue being bullish on Canada’s lone MLB participant.

“We know how passionate Blue Jays, and fans of MLB are and looking ahead to the summer, we expect continued interest and excitement,” NorthStar Bets CEO Michael Moskowitz said in a statement.

NorthStar Bets, the sportsbook and online casino business of NorthStar Gaming, owned by Torstar Corporation, opened its virtual doors this week and immediately experienced an affinity for the home team.

“It’s a great time of year to be a Toronto sports fan, and since NorthStar Bets has been live, we’ve seen strong interest and activity around the Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, NHL playoffs and MLB,” Moskowitz added.

Blue Jays games have attracted more than 20 per cent of all MLB wagers placed on PointsBet Canada since opening day, trader Sam Garriock told The Star on Wednesday.

“Compare that to the Colorado Rockies which is only involved in 11 per cent of our total handle,” Garriock said. “Some of that could have to do with the Rockies not being a good team, but there’s a lot of Blue Jays fever. There’s a higher percentage of our handle being placed right now on the Blue Jays than the Maple Leafs.”

Despite the recent rough stretch, the Jays remain a favourite of the oddsmakers. As of Friday, NorthStar Bets had Toronto as a +170 pick (so, a $100 wager would result in a $170 payout) to win the American League East behind the Yankees at -139. The Jays are tied with the Yankees and Mets at +800, and behind the LA Dodgers (+475) to win the World Series.

Also at NorthStar Bets, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (+425) is the third favourite for A.L. MVP, behind the L.A. Angels’ Shohei Ohtani (+200) and Mike Trout (+400).

Garriock said Guerrero Jr. is also a main attraction when it comes to the increasingly popular player prop wagers.

“We see a ton of action on Guerrero every game,” Garriock explained. “He’s by far one of the most popular players in (Ontario) and one of the most popular players in other markets.

“Young stars are very important to our betting handle, and when we talk about an older betting population, it’s easy for people to relate Guerrero, (Bo) Bichette and (Cavan) Biggio with their (ex-major league) fathers.”

Despite competing with the start of the NHL and NBA playoffs, MLB has been popular with ProLine+ players. In an email to NorthStar Bets, OLG said almost 24 per cent of wagers since April 7 have been placed on baseball, “slightly” trailing hockey and basketball.

PointsBet is scheduled to expand its menu of in-game betting options next month in an attempt to further exploit the slow pace of MLB games. Despite efforts to speed up play, the average length of a nine-inning game so far in 2022 is three hours and four minutes, according to Baseball-Reference.

“The MLB prop market is getting bigger every day,” Garriock said. “They give consumers and fans reason to keep watching deep into a game, even if, for example, the Jays have a big lead. That has certainly helped grow the popularity of the NBA and NFL.”

MLB Network, through its new streaming deal with Apple TV+, is delivering live odds probabilities during games while teams are aligning with sportsbooks as legal wagering grabs a foothold across North America. The Blue Jays and theScore Bet made a major splash during the first week of Ontario’s new regulated gaming industry when it announced a 10-year partnership which includes plans to build a year-round sports bar and restaurant inside the Rogers Centre.

"The Jays are unique in that they are Canada’s team,” said Aubrey Levy, theScore’s senior VP of marketing and content. “They reach a huge, passionate audience across a season that spans seven months and 81 home games at an extremely large capacity venue. The Jays are also a young and exciting team that is generating a ton of buzz, of course in Ontario, but also across North America.”

Anuk Karunaratne, the Jays’ executive VP of business operations, says the team is focused on catering to both fans and bettors.

“Our partnership with theScore Bet includes a variety of integrated elements – in-game entertainment, 50/50, signage, seating, etc. – meaning that the experience at a game for a fan that is not interested in sports betting is as balanced and enjoyable as it is for fans that are interested in sports betting,” Karunaratne said.

NorthStar Bets editorial Insiders have no influence, direct or otherwise, over the setting of odds advertised on our platforms.