Does the CFL NEED betting to survive?

Short answer... no.

There is a reason why the CFL is as old a league as it is. The fans that remain have bought-in to the game (the Canadian game). CFL Marketing geniuses, get out there and sell the game to the Canadian Corporations... Owners, get behind your investments and get creative to get butts in seats and dollars in pockets. Perhaps a step back and re-jig is required to make the game relevant and trendy again. Believe it or not, there is enough money to keep this league viable and successful. Looking for the quick fix and/or quick cash is not what makes the game great... figure the shit out and get back on the tracks. Your opportunity is now to rebrand... during the Covid closure, get your shit together. Once open, the fans will return.

The CFL NEEDS gambling to survive. It will be seen as a revenue stream. Gambling is what built the NFL that is the ultimate it is now

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Being in the UK I can give a perspective from somewhere CFL betting already exists.

Can gambling be used as a revenue stream? Yes definitely. There are some who won't be happy about it, but I suspect for every 1,000 fans who will claim that they'll boycott the CFL if it goes down that road, probably only one or two will actually stick to that promise.

In the UK, betting on CFL is largely restricted to three things - Grey Cup winner, match markets and points handicap markets. Compare that to the NFL, where you have total passing yards, total sacks, interceptions (both for the game and specific players) etc. right down to quarter-by-quarter points betting, total touchdowns and so on - there are literally hundreds of things you could bet on.

There's nothing stopping the CFL, as a pro league, expanding into betting markets like this and you could even chuck in some uniquely CFL ones as well, for example:

Total rouges over-under
Total no-yards penalties over/under
Total number of QBs to score over/under (since a standard rushing TD would see the first-choice guy score, but a 1-yard plunge brings the 2nd/3rd stringer into the game)

Keep in mind, I've seen betting markets made available for the Arena League and even (on very rare occasions) the European leagues, so outside North America, the genie left the bottle a long time ago.

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I'll do one better. All the major league team sports will need it to survive. Betting via apps skews younger and heavily male, and you bet they will be demanding more and pay for it.

I know of no major sports league not taking high interest and investing accordingly already. Any who don't, well the money you seek to earn as a business easily will find other pockets if you don't have gambling on your menu.

Modern sports without gambling options, now more legal than ever, would be like selling hamburgers without selling fries.

Even if your hamburgers were far and away better, you'd lose a major share of business to your inferior competitors.

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So much better scene there in the UK with the legal gambling and much more evolved given what I have noted from the ads on BT Sport when I watched those during the games on that feed in my pirate days from here in the US!

Here in the US, outside of Nevada, for years now they have been running many a "brotastic" ad with young dudes with backward ball caps thinking they are hip, but I notice finally this year they are running far more responsible and older ads not pandering entirely to broke fraternity brothers at some lame college.

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WELCOME Tshew

Thanks JSC for your insights into betting in the UK.

The top three betting companies in the world (according to this blog ) are in the UK, but the seventh largest β€” The Stars Group β€” is Canadian. It's seems like a no-brainer for the CFL to use this resource for a revenue leg up.

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Bet 365 out of the UK is running its ads here in Philadelphia (for NJ only), given its operation in New Jersey, using a celebrity presenter, Aaron Paul, akin to what BetMGM did with Jamie Foxx recently in what I thought was the best ad so far in front of the Bellagio Hotel.

The ads refreshingly are becoming more professional rather than the brotastic crap of years put on by the likes of weasel firms like Draftkings or Fanduel, both of which will never get a dime from me.

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I don't know what the general "mood" is regarding sports betting in North America, but in the UK the arguments you see generally fall into three "streams".

"Too much betting advertising/sponsorship on TV"

Admittedly, I see the point here, but the revenue/sponsorship argument is the flipside. In addition, given the sheer number of people with TiVo-style recorders, you could argue ads are becoming an irrelevance anyway as people just pause for a break then fast forward until the game restarts.

"Betting shops are a blight on our streets/society/civilisation as we know it".

Here you get the argument that betting shops are sort of low-class or seedy and they shouldn't be such a visible sign of gambling. I personally don't subscribe to this, but then again, maybe I'm so seedy and low-class myself I just don't notice. Again, the flipside is that any adult can walk into any store and play the National Lottery, which is surely a far more pervasive form of visible gambling, along with being a game of random chance.

Which leads on to...

"Gambling targets the vulnerable"

There's a huge range of ways you could spend your gambling money, be that lottery tickets, scratchcards, casino games, virtual sports and so on. The argument is this temptation shouldn't be in such plain view, or that some people basically need saving from themselves.

The flipside is that, in many forms "gambling targets the idiots". It amazes me how many people play casino games, slots, lottery etc. armed with their "superstition" or "secret tactics". I know coarse language is a no-no on the forum, but in this case I can only say "WTF are you thinking??". You'd think somebody playing a game of random chance might click that the words "random" and "chance" give a heavy hint, but seemingly not.

Same with sports betting, the times I see people putting on accumulators (soccer the overwhelming favourite) which consist of combos of short odds or pure home picks with NO CLUE who some of the teams are or the standard of league they play in. Pick 1 might be the English Primer League, pick 20 might be the Sudan Third Division. If your "strategy" is the betting equivalent of wearing a blindfold and sticking pins in a map, why are you so shocked when you lose?

The "vulnerable" argument only goes so far. Should we ban beer because some people are alcoholics? Ban fatty food because some people seem intent on making themselves a human version of the Stay=Puft Marshmallow Man?
I have may own "secret tactic" with slots and casino games - I DON'T PLAY THEM. I stick to sports betting because at least you have a real-life event with real-life form you can actually research.

Again, apologies for length, I assure you I'm not trying to earn the "highest Average Words to Posts ratio" forum badge.

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Betting is NOT the answer to save this or any league. Sure, it's a revenue stream, but if you think you can open the betting wickets and just replicate the NFL's success is plain foolish. Without marketing and brand-building, expansion and deep-pockets, it remains low-hanging fruit and will be plucked and f'd by narrow-focus and short-sighted greed. It will be a sad day for the great Canadian game.

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Well said here. Here in the US, these are two of the things bug me in our early foray into legal sports betting:

  1. The association of media firms that cover the sport with ownership stakes in betting ventures - there is an inherent conflict of interest here that risks ultimately the integrity of the sport let alone looming already the way the games are covered by the medium.

  2. Until now, mercifully, the dominant targeting of merely youth for betting in advertising including many who pass for younger than legal betting age of 21 - this of course is the college scene there for years now much longer than legal sports betting outside of Nevada in the US, but no, these are not all fully-grown adults upstairs and you all knew these guys when you went to school and did a few dumb things when you were young too.

What we don't hear is all the woes of addiction, often beyond the gambling, that goes with that. Some of these guys were hooked by the legal betting and trendy ads of yore that worked, for the newer books knew these were easier marks.

Anyway, I think we are moving past that era that began in 2015 with the Daily Fantasy Sports crap that was unregulated gambling yet exploited a loophole in federal law.


When my parents visited me when I lived in Las Vegas and as they were having a generally good time, but like most first-time tourists alarmed at what passes for "normal" there, my mom said it best: "This town was built by LOSERS!"

/Looking at the posh and sparkling buildings on The Strip by day, looking at the lights and neon at night

Yes mom it was. Yes it was.

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Just thought to add... betting exists on CFL games now and is peanuts. Teams are very divided (good/bad) in terms of competition. There are only 9 teams (3 of which are publicly owned and one other "run" by an estate). The schedule allows for a max 18 game season, officiating is a complete joke and weather conditions play into the outcome almost always. As is, betting isn't and will never be a lucrative revenue option -- especially when comparing to the NFL.

Well you did not write anything untrue there, and we'll have to disagree because you fail to see the growth at hand on betting on sports well beyond the mighty NFL.

And no one sees betting as THE answer, in your words not mine or anybody I have seen comment on the matter, but to ignore its growing financial benefit already at hand for other sports is foolhardy for any given major team sport and business.

I'm not sure why you feel you have to raise the matter of the mighty NFL so as to make your point as if that fact is relevant or, once again, that any of this discussion is to compete with the NFL as it is not even for the XFL people, but we'll have to disagree.

Fantasy Sports

I remember circa 2005 or so when I was "too old" to get caught up in this trend, which thrives to this day be it for gambling or not.

Like many older sports fans (I was only in my 30s but this was an early sign that I was no longer "in" with the college crowd), I thought it would be a passing trend.

Overlooked by many I think is how Fantasy Sports help to shape an entire generation of future gamblers always looking for more and different action.

The roots of Fantasy Sports are even more obscure and go back to what were known as Rotisserie Baseball leagues in the 1970s.

By 2005 it was Fantasy Sports, your local illegal bookmaker, or a trip to Las Vegas with a nascent offshore betting industry via the internet also laden with fraud.

Look now in 2021 after so many dismissed the potential as did I not for sports betting, for I was living in Las Vegas, but for Fantasy Sports and what it would bring over the years to sports betting.

I'm going to side with the prevailing trend based on also this history.

100% agree JSC,

In a similar one, betting in Macau, China is very similar. You will be surprised that they had betting lines for regular season on the Canadian Soccer League (CSL). Toronto Croatia vs. Serbian Eagles, Toronto Italia, London City etc.

Remember fellas, when the Toronto Raptors were awarded a franchise, one of the big deal breakers was not being able to bet on on the NBA via Sports Select just 2 - 3 prior to the 1995 season.

Eventually that was lifted about 10 years later. It only makes sense to have a parley or individual game betting. This will make a few million for the CFL.

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Many of the critics simply don't understand that bettors want action anywhere they can find it when their main sport is out of season or when they think, as they almost all do, they have found an angle.

If you have Sirius XM in the US, and it's not a channel I listen to because I think it's mostly boring and repetitive, listen to VSIN when it is not the NFL season. It's amazing that a sports betting radio station even exists.

You'll even hear grown American men likely over 50 talking about betting on soccer. Of course the young folks, mostly guys, are not listening much to radio and have been on the apps since they were in college.

The critics forget that this money is wagered with or without legal books and for leagues who want to play tight or hard to get, well that money is going elsewhere for sake of properly regulated legal sports betting with Nevada showing for some time now how to do it versus definitely how not to do it as a few places not listening will figure out one way or the other (and invite in more government scrutiny).

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Paolo_X,

No doubt. When some of my friends go to Vegas, they sit at Casino Bars and watch CFL Games. They then place bets on CFL Games also.

I don't know why it took this long. The legislation has been dragging this way to long. Like legally not being allowed to tailgate at CFL Games. That in another avenue that will help the CFL.

As an Argos fan, I know all to well that attendance was about 5,000 fans more when we had some form of a tailgate at BMO Field.

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It would certainly help. The CFL has a long history. However, most of its history when it attracted large crowds rests in the pre-mega-media world. Though other leagues have profited from them, the CFL remains mainly a stadium attendance based revenue league.

I might stir a hornet nest. It seems to me the players ratio contribute to the challenges the CFL faces. Of course, we all like to see good Canadian players on our team, but here's another fact. Quite a few of our best players now proceed to the NFL. Does it means the ratio could become obsolete in a future when our best chose to play south of the border (obvious reason for one, the salary) ?

There are hints that MLSE chair Larry Tanenbaum lobbied Trudeau to change the gambling law. No real surprise as MLSE will greatly benefit.

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Good for him, all teams will benefit too

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Well now that routine sports-betting in Canada has been legalized and opened up, it would be interesting to see how the CFL reaches out to various suitors as partners as well as how each province decides to proceed with such parties.

Here in the US, each state makes the call and some are faring very well as others can't get out of their own way trying to re-invent the very profitable wheel that has been well-established via people and companies operating in Las Vegas and London UK for decades already.

And for you cynics, no I am not talking about all those wise guys of yore, some of whom and their kin moved operations offshore long ago raking in all that money that has been missed out on for years now.