How long does it take to sing the Canadian national anthem?
If you think it’s more or less than 69.5 seconds, and you’re right, you might just be able to win a bit of money this Sunday, when the Canadian Football League’s championship game, the Grey Cup, will finally be played again.
While winning is not guaranteed and players should always wager responsibly, the O Canada-related prop bet is currently up on the website of Sports Interaction.
The bookmaker is aiming to mark the 108th playing of the Grey Cup this weekend by having 108 separate game and player props available for wagering. As of Thursday morning, there were around 90, including whether the singing of the national anthem before the game (from first note sung to last note sung) will take more or less than 69.5 seconds.
It's these prop bets offered by online sportsbooks, the prospect of a good game on Sunday, and the recent legalization of single-event wagering in Canada that could help drive the handle for the Grey Cup to new heights this year. Moreover, merely even the game's return might be enough to stoke interest among fans and bettors, as the CFL's 2020 season was wiped out by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I would expect the handle should set a record for the Grey Cup,” said Phill Gray, the head of trading operations at Sports Interaction.
Hamilton had been a four-point favourite going into the 107th Grey Cup, but Winnipeg won the 2019 matchup by a score of 33-12. This time the teams’ roles are reversed.
Sports Interaction was the first sportsbook to get lines up for the Grey Cup, installing Winnipeg as 4.5-point favourites. That line then fell as low as -3.5 before ticking up again to Bombers -4, as Gray said early money came in on Winnipeg before there was buy-back on Hamilton to win outright.
"So whenever that happens, usually you'll start to see the spread drop,” Gray told Covers in an interview.
Approximately 55% of tickets were on Winnipeg, but 60% of the money was on Hamilton at SIA as of Thursday morning, Gray said. Those numbers included all point spread and moneyline bets by customers, who were generally making bigger one-off wagers on Hamilton to win straight up — at much longer and potentially profitable odds — but packaging Winnipeg into more of their parlays.
Gray said this sort of thing can happen when spreads are in the three-to-five-ish range in which the Grey Cup game is currently sitting. Some bettors would rather shoot for the big moneyline payout instead of paying the vig on a points-spread wager.
Sports Interaction's line for the Grey Cup was back to Winnipeg -3.5 at -105 odds (bet $105 to win $100) as of Thursday evening.
“I don’t think you’re going to see any dramatic line movements from here,” Gray said. “It’s going to hang around three-and-a-half, four, four-and-a-half. It won’t go anywhere outside there, I don’t think.”
Kris Abbott, the head of North America for Coolbet, said the sportsbook opened with Bombers -4 and that they have since taken a good deal of action on Winnipeg due in part to the bookmaker’s big user base in Manitoba.
Yet the Grey Cup’s line is down to Bombers -3 at Coolbet, even with approximately 80% of point-spread bets on Winnipeg. That's because the amount of money wagered on the spread is about even between the Bombers and Ticats, Abbott noted.
“So we've got people betting the Ticats moneyline and some bigger bets on their spread,” he said.
Winnipeg was a juggernaut this past season, going 11-3 and looking very impressive doing so. Hamilton, meanwhile, possesses a fearsome defense and will have the home-field advantage for the game.
According to CFL Stats, Grey Cup "home" teams are 6-5 since 1972. The record includes the last three times a team has played the championship game on their home field, which were victories by British Columbia in Vancouver (2011), Toronto in Toronto (2012), and Saskatchewan in Regina (2013).
Winnipeg and Hamilton played each other once during the 2021 regular season as well, which happened to be the first game of the regular season. In that matchup, Winnipeg quarterback Zach Collaros connected with Kenny Lawler through the air for two touchdowns, and the Bombers intercepted Hamilton pivot Jeremiah Masoli twice en route to a 19-6 win at home.
Masoli won’t be starting Sunday, though, as Hamilton coach Orlondo Steinauer said Wednesday that Dane Evans would begin the game at quarterback for the Ticats. Evans replaced Masoli during Hamilton’s East final matchup against the Toronto Argonauts and helped lead the Tabbies to a 27-19 victory.
But the Evans announcement "really didn’t have that much effect on the lines,” SIA’s Gray said. It did, however, have some bearing on the kind of props the books are offering.
Indeed, some operators are providing betting options beyond just the standard sides and totals. There is actually something of a growing Super Bowl-ization of the prop betting markets for the Grey Cup, as bettors can now get money down at some books on a wide variety of markets, such as the outcome of the coin toss, among other things.
“We're starting to see some of the Super Bowl-type props creeping into the CFL as well because one thing we've learned is that if it's out there, people will bet it,” Coolbet’s Abbott said.
There are some cross-sports props available in connection with the Grey Cup, too.
Abbott, for instance, said Coolbet plans on offering a Hamilton-Lewis Hamilton parlay on Sunday with boosted odds. The wager would pay out if the Ticats win the Grey Cup and Hamilton wins Formula One’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
“People are going to watch and we know people are going to want to bet as well,” Abbott said. “So we’re trying to give them more than just the three main markets.”
We have added some special #GreyCup props in the "Others" tab for the big game including true +100 odds on both sides of the coin flip.— Coolbet Canada ???????? (@CoolbetCanada) December 9, 2021
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Another reason why this year’s Grey Cup could draw the highest handle in the history of the game is the recent expansion of legal sports betting in Canada.
The passage of Bill C-218 earlier this year has freed provinces to conduct and manage single-game wagering within their borders, and government-owned lottery corporations have since begun taking those bets via their online sportsbooks.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.'s PROLINE+ opened with Bombers -1.5 at odds of -132, but had Winnipeg as 3.5-point favourites at -106 as of Thursday morning.
PROLINE+ remains the only legal online sportsbook in Ontario at the moment, as the province’s competitive market for internet-based casino gambling and sports betting isn’t expected to open until the first quarter of 2022.
OLG's book has been taking wagers in the province since late August — coinciding with the effective date of the bill legalizing single-game sports betting in Canada. OLG spokesperson Tony Bitonti said in an email that the company is now seeing the highest revenue per CFL game in the company’s history.
“CFL sales have been very healthy on digital and single bets have driven most of that as they constitute 84% of digital CFL bets,” Bitonti said. “In-play betting has also been popular at 44% of all CFL bets.”