A Complete Guide to the CFL - Betting Sites and History of the CFL

Those of you who are huge football fans likely know a ton about the NFL and U.S. College Football, but did you know that north of the border there is a professional football league that has been in existence since the 1950s? The Canadian Football League was launched all the way back in 1958 and provides Canadians and viewers from other countries an exciting product. The CFL is also a very popular gambling sport in Canada, but the game features some slight rule changes which can have a dramatic impact on the outcome of bets.

We have put this page together to outline the differences between the CFL and American football, as well as to give you some great options of where you can play the game.

The Best CFL Betting Sites

Let's start with the best place for you to make bets on the CFL. Outside of Canada, the CFL is considered a bit of a fringe sport even though the basic rules of the game are similar to the game played in the U.S. We review tons of sportsbooks, and from the piles of reviews we have on file, we have selected the sites you see below as the best CFL Betting Sites. You may not recognize some of the names, but rest assured that we think that these places are the best place to get down a bet on the Roughriders or the Alouettes!

RankUS Betting SiteSign Up BonusGet Started
#1BovadaBovada50% up to $250Visit Site
#2MyBookieMyBookie100% up to $1,000Visit Site
#3GTbetsGTbets100% up to $500Visit Site
#4XbetXbet100% up to $300Visit Site
#5SportsBetting.agSportsBetting.ag50% up to $1,000Visit Site

Now, if you want to know why we have selected these sites, in particular, let's break down what got them onto this recommended list.

Bet selection

The Best CFL Betting Sites are ones that offer the most options for gamblers, from future bets to in-play betting. As the sport isn't as popular as some others, some sportsbooks don't have anyone knowledgeable enough to watch the lines. The books on our list have clearly some understanding of the game as can be seen by the number of bets that are available on each matchup.

Best Promotions

This is more generic unless a site is really focused on the Canadian market. However, the Best CFL Betting sites that give players the best bang for their buck with bonuses and promotions are more likely to be sites that we recommend. Betting on sports is a tough gig - any way that you can improve your bottom line without having to win a bet is great in our opinion.

Best Mobile Interface

Whether you are watching a game live in the stadium or out on the go, the in-play betting options are a great enhancement to the over CFL betting enjoyment. The top CFL Betting sites all either have a native app or a great browser-based interface which allows you to get your bets in quickly and with no mistakes. Lines are updated in real time and tracking the bets from your phone is very easy.

Live Streaming

If you live outside of Canada, you may find it difficult to find a broadcaster of the games. This is where a sportsbook can come to the rescue. Many CFL Betting sites offer their real money players live streaming of all fringe sports like the Canadian Football League to their real money players.

Differences Between the CFL and the NFL

When it comes to betting on the Canadian Football League, there are some subtle differences in the game that you need to know to be a savvy gambler. Let's review the most notable of these difference here.

The Number of Downs

This is the rule change that is highly different between the two sports and has the most dramatic impact on the betting.

There are only three downs in the CFL to gain 10 yards, versus the 4 down leagues in the United States. This means each team has one less play to extend drives, which has impacts all over the betting landscape.

First off, there are more passing attempts in the CFL than the NFL, and far less rushing attempts. This can affect the individual prop bets at CFL Betting Sites. Also, there are far more possession changes, which could impact the overall score of the game as each team gets the ball more often

The Size of the Field

While the CFL field looks like an NFL field, there are some differences. First off, the field is 10 yards longer, so there are potential drives and scores of 110 yards instead of 100. The field is wider as well, meaning there is more room to make plays than on a traditional U.S. football field.

The Players

With a larger field size, there Is an additional player on each team on the field at one time - 12 instead of 11. This gives quarterbacks more targets for passes, which can impact the number of passing yards. Another impact on passing yards is that the receivers are given a running start at the line of scrimmage. This means that they are already approaching top speed as the ball is snapped, allowing them to get down the field faster than if they were standing still. When you are visiting a CFL Betting site, you will want to take this into account when thinking about what wagers to place.

The Configuration of the End Zone

The end zone of the CFL field has an impact on scoring for sure. First, the end zone is 30 yards long, versus the 10-yard size of the NFL field. This means there is far more room for receivers to get away from their defenders, and passers have more room to throw the ball and remain inbounds.

Second, the goal posts are at the goal line in the CFL, as opposed to the back of the NFL field. This has an impact on scoring as the kickers only have to get the ball to the goal line to get it through the uprights, but there are two possible other outcomes of kicks...

The Rouge and the Runback

When a placekicker steps up to make a Field Goal attempt in the CFL, they are trying to get the ball through the uprights. However, with a field that is 20 yards longer in the end zone than in the NFL, there is a chance the ball doesn't make it all the way through.

All kicks that miss going through the uprights can be returned out of the end zone by the defending team. The team can try to run the ball back (it is a live ball so they could score a touchdown if they make it all the way down the field. They also have the option of kicking it out of the end zone. If the defending team does not get the missed kick out of their own end zone, or the ball goes through the back of the end zone, the kicking team receives one point, known as a Rouge. This point can have a major impact on the point spread or total of a game, which is huge from a betting perspective.

The CFL's Teams and Schedule

Let's take a step back here and give you some of the basic information on the league itself. Having formed all the way back in 1958, there have been lots of teams and owners come and go along the way. Many of you may have vague memories of a time when the CFL has expanded into the United States (remember the Las Vegas Posse?), but that wasn't a success, so those teams ended up folding and not here are 9 teams in the league.

  • Montreal Alouettes
  • Hamilton Tiger-Cats
  • Ottawa Redblacks
  • Toronto Argonauts
  • Winnipeg Blue Bombers
  • Saskatchewan Roughriders
  • Edmonton Eskimos
  • Calgary Stampeders
  • B.C. Lions

These teams are split into two divisions, the East (4 teams) and the West (5 teams). The league plays an 18-game schedule which runs from June to October, followed by a playoff system and the championship, the Grey Cup in November.

Recent Winners of the Grey Cup

The CFL has been around since 1958, and the Grey Cup Trophy has been given to the champion since then (it was given out in other sports since 1909). The list of champions does go back all the way to 1909, and for record-keeping purposes, the team that has won the Grey Cup across all the sports the most is the Edmonton Eskimos, who have lifted the trophy 17 times.

Fun Fact: Did you know that there was an American champion of the CFL? The Baltimore Stallions won the Grey Cup twice while in the league in the 1990s as part of an expansion that saw teams join in cities like Sacramento and Las Vegas. Those teams were folded when the league decided to stick to playing in Canada.

The most recent list of Grey Cup winners is below:

  • 2017 - Toronto Argonauts
  • 2016 - Ottawa Redblacks
  • 2015 - Edmonton Eskimos
  • 2014 - Calgary Stampeders
  • 2013 - Saskatchewan Roughriders
  • 2012 - Toronto Argonauts
  • 2011 - BC Lions
  • 2010 - Montreal Alouettes
  • 2009 - Montreal Alouettes
  • 2008 - Calgary Stampeders

Official CFL Football

One interesting twist in the league is the playoff format. With one division holding more teams than the other, the way the playoff system works is as follows:

The two division winners are given a bye into the league semifinals. The teams that finish second in their respective decisions play a home playoff game against the third place team in their division, with one exception. If the 4th place team in either division ends up with a better record than the third place team in the other division, they cross over to play in the playoffs. This is a great way to get the 6 best teams out of the 9 into the playoffs, which in theory should produce better games. It's a blueprint that we suspect we will see adopted in other professional sports in the future.

How Do Teams Make It to the Grey Cup?

As we mentioned, the Grey Cup is the championship game for the 9-team Canadian Football League. The league has two divisions - the East, which has four teams, and the West that houses the other five. There is an 18-week regular season which is spread over 21 weeks, giving each team 3 bye weeks during the season that starts in June.

The playoff format is not too different than that of the NFL, with one clear exception. The two division winners are given a bye into the conference finals, leaving them one step away from the big game! The second-place teams in each division also qualify automatically to host a playoff game. They play against the third-place team in their division, unless the fourth-place team in the other division has a better record than the third-place team, in which case that team qualifies and crosses over and into the playoffs. This ensures that the top teams fight it out for a chance to play for the championship.

The Grey Cup is hosted in a different city each November, and this gives the host city the chance to put on one hell of a party. CFL fans are known to travel long distances to see their team play, and even if their team doesn't make it to the big game, they still flock to the host city for all the parties. These parties have been epic, including horses making their way into hotel...

Differences Between the Grey Cup and the Super Bowl

Now, the game itself is very similar to American football, as we mentioned earlier, but if you are going to bet on the Grey Cup, there are a few rule changes that you should be aware of before you place any wagers.

  • The single point
  • The field size
  • The players on the field
  • The gameplay
The Single Point

Yes, you read that right - there is a single point scoring play in the CFL (and we don't mean an extra point). If a kicker attempts a field goal during the game and misses, the kicking team still has a chance to get one point if one of the following two things occurs:

  1. The ball goes through the end zone (tougher than you may think - see below)
  2. The returning team doesn't get the ball out of the end zone before being tackled

Given that the Grey Cup takes place in November and almost always outdoors, this single point, called a rouge, can come into play a lot, and this can wreak havoc on betting lines.

The Field Size

We brought up the rouge first to highlight one of the differences in a CFL field. The end zone is actually 30 yards deep, with the goal posts at the front as opposed to the NFL where they are at the back of a zone that is one-third the size. That isn't the only size difference - the field is also an extra ten yards in length and 5 yards in width. This means more yards to cover on a scoring drive and more chances to throw the ball deep from the red zone.

The Players on the Field

To utilize the space of the larger field, there is one extra player on the field for both teams in a CFL game than in an NFL game. This means each side has 12 men playing at once. Also, another interesting fact is that a certain number of players are allowed to be in motion when the ball is snapped by the center. This means that a wide receiver could already be running when the ball snaps, although this can also lead to an increase in false start penalties if the run isn't timed properly.

The Gameplay

The game is 60 minutes split into 4 quarters just like the Super Bowl, but the Grey Cup rules (and the league rules) dictate that the offensive team has only 3 downs to move the ball ten yards. The traditional "three and out" term in American football is replaced by "two and out" in Canada. This adds to the excitement of the game, as teams are forced to move the ball further and faster than in the American version. It's rare to see a low-scoring CFL game with this many changes of possession!

Those are the most crucial differences you will notice in the Grey Cup versus the Super Bowl...oh, except, of course, that the anthem singer is singing O Canada instead of the Star Spangled Banner for those of you planning to bet on its length!

A Fun Alternative to NFL Betting

As you can see, the Canadian Football League offers up a lot of great betting options for gamblers, and with a season that starts three months earlier than the NFL, football fans who love to gamble can get their fix for a longer period of time. There are definitely some rule changes that all gamblers should be aware of, and many of them also make the game very exciting to watch!

CFL games seem to always go down to the wire, and now that you are more knowledgeable about the sports, we think you will want to visit the best CFL Betting Sites to watch the teams as they play all season and try to win the Grey Cup!

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