For most people looking to bet on sports in Canada, the easiest way seems to be using our provincial sports lotteries such as Proline, Sport Select, PlayNow and Mise-O-Jeu.
After all, you can just pop into your local convenience store or gas station and buy a 3-game ticket while also picking up milk for tonight.
Unfortunately, with perhaps the exception of PlayNow (which does a pretty good job serving B.C. residents) our provincial sports lotteries fall way short when it comes to delivering the sports betting experience that online betting sites do.
Signing up for an online sportsbook and depositing money can take you just a few minutes. Once you’ve got your account set up, you’ll find it’s actually much easier to bet on sports than using your government lottery.
Here are 13 reasons why sportsbooks are better than Proline and the other provincial sports lotteries.
1. You’ll get way better odds
Odds are the biggest reason why sportsbooks are better than Proline and most other provincial sports lotteries.
Here’s a real life comparison of a 3-game baseball parlay at Sports Interaction (on the left) and Mise-O-Jeu in Quebec.
As you can see, on a $100 wager, Sports Interaction is paying $793.74. On the same bet, Mise-O-Jeu is paying $534.20.
That’s a payout difference of nearly $260!
Factor in that both payouts include your original wager, meaning you’ll technically win $693.74 at Sports Interaction or $434.20 at Mise-O-Jeu. That means Sports Interaction (which doesn’t even offer odds as good as Pinnacle) is paying nearly 60% more on the same bet.
There’s a reason the Quebec government tried to force Internet service providers to block certain online betting sites. People are doing the math, and looking elsewhere than Mise-O-Jeu and other provincial sports lotteries.
2. You can do single-game wagering
Outside of the better odds, this is the biggest advantage that online betting sites give you over Proline.
It’s hard enough to win 55% of your picks against the NFL point spread, or to get 6 out of 10 hockey picks right.
Having to go 3-for-3 or 4-for-4 to win any money makes it impossible to come out ahead in the long run with Proline.
For even the best bettors, winning a point spread bet is just a little more than a 50/50 proposition, similar to a coin landing on heads or tails.
The odds of getting 3 straight heads or 3 straight tails is 1 in 8. So at a minimum, you can expect to be throwing approximately 7 of every 8 Proline tickets in the garbage.
3. You can bet on tomorrow’s games
So it’s almost 10 o’clock eastern time and you want to get some action on one of the late games.
Problem is, Proline odds on hockey, baseball and basketball are only offered for games being played that day.
You’ll either have to make Proline picks on all of the few remaining games that night, or combine the pick you like with some random CFL, NFL or NCAA picks.
Most online sportsbooks open betting on games by early evening of the previous day.
If you do want to combine tonight’s pick with a couple other games (remember, you can bet just one game at a time if you like), at least you’ll have more games to choose from.
4. You don’t have to worry about confusing tie rules
@Jdog1719 ProLine hockey tie rules changed on October 1, 2013. Overtime and shootouts are no longer included in team win. Thanks!
— Atlantic Lottery (@AL_Lottery) November 12, 2014
If you bet on a team to win using an online betting sportsbook, it doesn’t matter how much they win the game by. If they win, you win. Period.
Proline tie rules stack the odds against you just a little bit more.
If a football team wins the game by 3 points or less, it’s somehow ruled a tie. Same with basketball teams winning by 5 points or less, or a hockey team winning in a shootout.
So while the team you bet on is celebrating its last-second game-winning field goal, you’ll be busy ripping up your Proline ticket.
5. You Can Bet NFL Teasers
NFL spread picks are often decided by just a few points.
So it’s nice to be able to use teasers, something online betting sportsbooks offer that allow you to move the NFL betting lines 6 or 7 points in your favour.
Proline doesn’t have that option. If the point spread is -7.5 and you’re nervous about laying more than a touchdown, too bad.
6. You can buy points or bet on alternate lines
Another way to make your NFL spread picks or NBA spread picks more likely to win is to buy points.
Online betting sportsbooks allow you to move the point spread in half-point increments on football and basketball bets, at slightly steeper odds.
Of course, there are buying points pros and cons, but it’s at least nice to have the option.
Or, if you smell a blowout, online betting sites give you the option of laying more points than the point spread. Playing a favourite at -10.5 instead of -6 could land you a big payday.
Once again, Proline and most other provincial sports lotteries don’t allow you to do either of these things.
7. You can shop around for the better line
There are quite a few online betting sites out there that you can trust, and they often offer different sports betting odds on the same events.
Sports Interaction and Bodog are a great place to bet on underdogs, and Pinnacle sportsbook generally has the best odds. This allows you to shop around and get the best return on your bet.
With Proline, you’re stuck with the odds posted by the provincial sports lottery where you live.
The Leafs might pay 1.60 in Ontario and 1.80 with British Columbia PlayNow, but if you live in Ontario, you’re stuck with the crappier odds.
8. You can bet on games after they start
Live betting is awesome. It allows you to make bets after seeing some of the action (sometimes at better odds) and comes in handy if you were too busy to get your bet in before the game began.
Any of the best online sportsbooks for Canadians offer a wide variety of live betting options, especially Bet365.
Proline and other provincial sports lotteries don’t, however (except PlayNow). If you get to the gas station 10 seconds after the game began, no soup for you!
9. You won’t have to drive to the gas station
Speaking of gas stations, how often have you had to drive to one to make your Proline picks?
It’s not the most fun thing to have to do after a long day at work, or on a cold Sunday morning in December before NFL games kick off.
Even worse is when one of your Proline picks in the early games loses, making the late games on your ticket meaningless. So much for having action all night, right?
With most online betting sites, you can place bets on your computer, on your mobile device or even by calling on the telephone. Within a minute of deciding who you want to bet on, you can have your bet placed.
Online Proline betting is slowly becoming more available, but it isn’t offered in all provinces.
10. You can take advantage of sportsbook bonus offers
Online betting sportsbooks have low overhead costs, which allow them to offer generous deposit bonuses to new (and sometimes existing) players.
Proline is run by our provincial governments — who haven’t exactly earned a reputation as models in either efficiency or generosity.
11. You won’t have to worry about limits
Even though Proline odds are now nearly impossible to beat, Proline still limits its players to $100 per ticket.
They even have safeguards in place to make sure you don’t bet the same ticket a couple times a row to get around the $100 limit.
Proline has been burned in the past (the Leblanc brothers won millions playing Proline in the 1990s, taking advantage of poor betting lines) and they’re reluctant to make themselves vulnerable to any sort of liability again.
Meanwhile, the sky is practically the limit at online sportsbooks.
Want to throw $10,000 down on the Super Bowl? Practically all of these sportsbooks will gladly take your bet.
12. You can bet on the first half, or even the first period
If you think a team is going to come out strong, or if you like a coach’s ability to make half-time adjustments, you might want to just bet on the first or second half, or even one of the quarters or periods.
Online sportsbooks allow you to do this.
Proline and most other provincial sports lotteries do not.
13. You can bet on team totals and other props
The final reason why sportsbooks are better than Proline and other provincial sports lotteries is props.
When betting on sports, you don’t always need to bet on whether one team will win over the other, or how many points will be scored in the game.
Online betting sites allow you to bet on how many goals, runs or points one team will score, or how many points, yards or rebounds a player will rack up.
Proline offers Pro Picks and other player props, but in a limited selection and at crappy odds that need to be parlayed with other Proline picks.
Other provincial sports lotteries offer a few more options than that. But outside of PlayNow, none offer a wide selection of betting lines comparable to online sportsbooks.