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Brendan Shanahan, John Tavares and Kyle Dubas speak on NHL’s Return to Play plan

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When the NHL officially unveiled its plan for a potential return amid the global COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs were very much in the picture as part of a prospective 24-team field.

Toronto is also in the running to be one of two hub cities for the tournament, but Maple Leafs president and alternate governor Brendan Shanahan cautioned there is a long way to go before hockey’s return – in Toronto or elsewhere – will be feasible from a health and safety standpoint.

“None of us ever want to be perceived, and none of us would agree to a situation, where we are taking away [COVID-19] testing from people that need it,” Shanahan said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday. “We obviously submitted ourselves [as a hub city], but we would have to really be in a position – and we’re talking several, several weeks from now – where the health care community, and the government community of whatever country we’re in, whatever city we’re in, are in agreement that this can be done and it can be done in a respectful, conscientious way.”

The NHL revealed in a 29-page document on Tuesday that the 2019-20 regular season will be abandoned in favour of a 24-team postseason format, beginning with a round of five-game play-in series.

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For the Leafs, that would mean a matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets to try and earn their way into the final 16-team playoff field.

In preparation to possibly move ahead, the league laid out parameters of Phase 2 and Phase 3 for its potential restart, including the amount of testing it would like to do if protocols move ahead.

In a potential Phase 2, where players participate in voluntary small group workouts in their home facilities by early June, testing would be administered at least twice per week. By the prospective Phase 3, where games would begin in late July or early August, testing would happen every day.

Toronto is one of 10 hub cities currently under consideration by the league to host teams in Phase 3. By that point, it’s the hope of Leafs captain and NHLPA Return To Play Committee member John Tavares that there will be more clarity on the evolution of COVID-19.

“We just want to feel that we’re in a safe environment and we’re getting the best advice that we possibly can from the experts,” he said. “We’re talking to a lot of the infectious disease experts and following their guidance and understanding what is necessary to be put in the best possible position to have the absolute lowest risk – whether that’s testing every day, or not needing it that often. I think we believe and we know that our communities are going to be in a lot better place [to allow us to] play hockey and be able to play competitively [if a return happens].”

If they do go back to work, Tavares said players ideally want to be somewhere that doesn’t restrict their day-to-day lives too much.

“When you’re in that [place] for an extended period of time, you want to feel comfortable as a person,” Tavares said. “And I think the mental health side of it [is important] to make sure that we feel we’re not just in our hotel rooms and going to the rink, but that there’s going to be really good structure in place where we can feel like ourselves and be like ourselves.”

The final location of the hub cities won’t be revealed by the NHL for three to four weeks, but Shanahan is already stressing that despite the United States declaring NHLers essential workers who can bypass the current border restrictions and quarantining requirements when entering from Canada, the Leafs aren’t lobbying the Canadian government for any special treatment for players.

“We don’t make that argument,” Shanahan said. “Those are questions that the National Hockey League is having with the Government of Canada, and I don’t think it’s so much looking for exceptions. It’s just trying to see where the government is, where the country is, where the communities and provinces are, and how this may evolve over time. We understand and know that hockey is part of the fabric of Canada, but any return to play would have to be done in concert and in partnership with the health care professionals of Canada and with the government.”

To that end, Leafs players who want to be part of a possible Phase 2 next month have begun the journey back to Toronto, where they will abide by Canada’s 14-day quarantine law.

“We have had quite a few players, if not most of them, beginning to book their travel back,” said Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas. “I wouldn’t say we encouraged that because it is a voluntary phase for the players. But it seems that most of our guys would like to be here and at least be into their small groups with others, which [we expect] will begin at some point here in the next week or two weeks.”

One player already settled back in town to await word on Phase 2 is prospect Nick Robertson. The 18-year-old forward was drafted in the second round, 53rd overall, by Toronto in 2019 and is coming off a sensational 55-goal season with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, where his average of 1.2 goals per game was seventh-best all-time in the league.

With the NHL stipulating teams can carry up to 28 skaters on their roster for a potential return to play, Dubas didn’t hesitate to make sure Robertson would be in the mix.

“Nick had a great season in Peterborough and continued to improve what he could offer,” Dubas said. “I know what he’s been doing since he’s been back home in Los Angeles and I know his commitment to being in the best possible shape that he can be. That, combined with his talent and ability, makes me believe that he’ll give a good run for not only just being here, but to potentially be on the roster.”

Dubas said seven or eight players from the AHL’s Marlies are also in the team’s plans for Phase 3, and could return to participate in Phase 2 as well. But regardless of where players are physically leading up to a possible restart, Dubas’ message has been clear about the task Toronto would face in a potential play-in series with Columbus.

“The discussions I’ve had with [head coach] Sheldon [Keefe] and our players is that our focus can’t be on opponents or potential opponents, it has to be on ourselves and arming the players during the voluntary phase with the resources they may need to get themselves into the best shape possible,” Dubas said. “I think the conditioning of our athletes will be a major competitive factor as we get rolling, not only that they’re in the best shape they can possibly be in in every regard, but that we’re also guarding against potential injury.”

While the Leafs are now guaranteed at least one series if the NHL can resume, there’s also a chance they have a high draft pick, based on the league’s newly revealed draft lottery plans.

After Phase 1 of the lottery takes place June 26 for the seven teams already eliminated from contention (who have identical lottery odds they would under normal circumstances based on points percentage), the eight teams that don’t advance from the play-in round will have equal 12.5 per cent odds of securing the first-, second- or third-overall pick in the draft.

The Leafs traded away their 2020 first-round pick to Carolina in the Patrick Marleau deal last June, but Toronto’s three per cent chance of still securing that first-overall pick remains intact because Dubas negotiated the pick sent to Carolina would be top-10 protected.

Like everything else at this point, Dubas is taking that possibility in stride, knowing there’s a long way to go before any of these prospective scenarios take real shape.

“It’s so hard to say how it’s all going to run,” he said. “We have a lot of real estate to cover before we get [to playing]. Not to say it would be a horrible scenario to win the lottery or anything like that, but I tend to focus more on the optimistic view, which is getting our team ready to be able to have success. I think we have a lot to prove and to be able to prove that will start with how we operate here in Phase 2 and Phase 3 and set ourselves up. I hope to never have any discussions with anyone about the lottery again.”​

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A Look At Today’s Best Live Dealer Online Casino Games

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Online Casino Games

Some of the most popular games you can play at fully licensed online casinos today are live dealer games, such as Live Dealer Roulette, Live Dealer Blackjack, TV Game Show-themed live dealer games, and Live Dealer Slots. Here is a closer look at some of the best live dealer games from three leading software providers – Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and OnAir Entertainment.

All of these state-of-the-art live dealer games are now available to play in the real money mode at a fully licensed online casino called Lucky Spins Canada, which is free to sign up to and is currently offering all new Canadian players up to 500 FREE SPINS for Play’n GO’s iconic Book of Dead online slot, plus a 100% matching deposit bonus worth up to C$500.

Top 10 Live Dealer Games in the Spotlight

Here are ten of the best live dealer casino games that you must check out. These games have wide betting ranges that cater to low rollers and high rollers alike (and pretty much all other betting ranges in between low rollers and high rollers), and you can often play one round/hand/spin from as little as C$0.10 to C$0.50 up to C$1,000.00 or more.

The top ten live dealer games from Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, OnAir Entertainment, Betgames.tv, Ezugi, and eBET that you must check out include the following mixture of live table & card games, live slots, and television game show live dealer games:

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  • Live PowerUp Roulette from Pragmatic Play
  • Live Andar Bahar from Ezugi
  • Live Teen Patti from Ezugi
  • Live XXXtreme Lightning Roulette from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Crazy Coin Flip from Evolution Gaming
  • MONOPOLY Live from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Wheel of Fortune from Betgames.tv
  • Live Airwave Roulette from OnAir Entertainment
  • Live Black Sports Arena from OnAir Entertainment
  • Bet On Poker Live from Betgames.tv

How old do I have to be to play live casino games?

To play live dealer games at online casinos, such as Lucky Spins, you generally need to be at least 18 years old. However, always check because, in some regions where online gambling is legal, it could be 21 or 20 years old.

What devices can I play live dealer games from?

You can play live dealer games from all of the providers mentioned above using either a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Just make sure that it has decent Wi-Fi or internet connectivity. Most games can be launched instantly in your web browser, plus you also generally have the option to download and install a free casino app directly onto your smartphone or tablet and then play from within the secure app.

What to remember when playing for real money

When playing for real money, don’t forget to set deposit limits where possible. Don’t ever chase your losses because it may result in you losing even more money, and don’t gamble just for the sake of it. Try and have fun, and always remember to gamble responsibly. Gambling is meant to be fun, so if you aren’t having fun anymore, it might be a good idea to take a break from gambling for a while.

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Gambling in Ireland vs. Canada

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Regulation of Online Gambling in Ontario: The Fight Against Black-Market Operators Continues

Gambling has traditionally played a significant role in Irish society. Naturally, the advancement of technology has changed how Irish gamblers conduct their business. Because of cell phones, placing bets is now simpler than ever (You could check here for a few trustworthy ones). However, Irish individuals must be cognizant of the country’s licensing laws.

Irish gamers can wager on bingo, lotteries, casino games, poker, sports, and more about the regulated and licensed gambling websites, making internet gambling in Ireland a multi-million-dollar business. This is not so dissimilar from the humongous gambling industry in Canada. For the past couple of years, gambling practices have been on the rise in Canada. So in today’s article, we’ll be looking at how gambling has fared in Ireland vs. Canada.

 

Ireland

According to the most recent statistics from Ireland from 2022, approximately half of the Irish population (49%) partakes in gambling, while its estimated prevalence for gambling addiction is 0.3%, meaning there are 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. Since only a small percentage of those with an issue with betting seek treatment, there is a need to try and understand Irish gambling behavior and treatment adoption.

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According to industry statistics, Irish gamblers ended up losing over €1.36 billion the year before last, or around €300 on average for every person, ranking them as the fourth-largest gamblers throughout the EU. According to industry researchers H2 Gambling Capital, Ireland places 14th internationally for the biggest median gambling losses, comfortably ahead of the UK but behind Sweden (€325 per adult), Malta (€334), and Finland (€342).

Revenue rose €51.9 million in conventional betting duty revenues and €40.6 million in online betting receipts in 2019, almost twice as much as the corresponding amounts from the preceding year ($28.9 million & €21.7 million, respectively). Sports betting is the most well-liked online form of gambling, comprising over 41% of the industry and bringing in €10 billion in 2019, claims the European Gaming and Betting Association.

Instead of using desktop computers, over 44% of all internet wagers are placed from a phone or tablet. By 2025, it is anticipated that approximately 6 out of 10 online wagers will be placed using mobile devices. Despite representing just 1.1% of the total population, Ireland generates 2.6% of Europe’s online gambling market in terms of revenue, according to the H2 data.

 

 

Canada

Like many other nations, Canada has a large gambling industry. The majority of gamblers don’t suffer any consequences, but a small percentage will. The number of gambling options in Canada has grown over the years, and new gambling innovations like online poker & sports betting have increased the significance of more thorough and ongoing oversight.

A study used information from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to assess gambling and gambling-related issues among adults aged 15 and over. Those who may be at risk of developing a problem with gambling are identified using a Problem Gambling Index. This evaluates problem gambling behavior and the effects of that behavior on the individual or others.

Of the 18.9 million Canadians aged 15 and over, nearly two-thirds (64.5%) reported betting in the previous year, & 1.6% of those gamblers were exposed to a substantial risk of gambling-related issues. Men were more prone than women to file gambling in the previous year across all age categories. Additionally, men were more likely to have a relatively high risk of developing gambling-related issues.

Though they were more prone to developing gambling problems, people in lower social households were less inclined to wager than those of relatively high-earning households.

 

For instance,

 

  • 1% of Canadians at significantly higher risk for gambling issues were among the 71.5% of those living in higher-earning households who reported betting in the last year.
  • 8% of people from low-income families gambled in the preceding year, and 2.7% of them were at moderate to high risk for developing gambling addictions.

 

The likelihood of gambling-related issues rose with the quantity of casino games played.

In the multivariate analyses, the majority of factors, such as engaging in various gambling activities, living single (or separated or divorced), being unmarried, and possessing poor or fair mental well-being, remained independently related to gambling problems.

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Canada Soccer has hit the big time with coach John Herdman

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John Herdman, Head Coach of Canada, reacts during a press conference at the Main Media Center on Nov. 30, during the World Cup in Doha, Qatar.Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

In every team’s final news conference at a World Cup, it’s tradition to ask the head coach if he plans to stick around.

Someone threw it up at Canadian national men’s coach John Herdman following this country’s measured success in Qatar.

Herdman gave a meandering answer of 1 minute 15 seconds that ended this way: “[Belgian assistant coach] Thierry Henry told me this team played [Belgium] off the park. I’ll take that. Because if that’s our foundation? We’ve got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”

Though that reply didn’t contain the crucial word, people took it for a “yes.” Because what else would it be?

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Few coaches in the world have a gig this sweet. Herdman is such a big fish in Canada’s soccer pond that he essentially runs the program. He’s got a guaranteed spotlight in the next World Cup, which Canada will be in by virtue of being a co-host. He’s still young (47), says he loves living here and is signed for the long term.

Maybe he’d like to coach at a sexier program in Europe. Wouldn’t anyone in his position?

But with that caveat, from the outside looking in, Canada is a great job. It wasn’t always, but Herdman (with a major assist from Alphonso Davies’s parents) turned it into one.

Which makes it curious that reports out of New Zealand on Wednesday claimed that Herdman was about to be appointed the coach of that country’s men’s national team.

In a report from the NewsHub network, Herdman was described as “the clear top pick” for the job. To hear this story tell it, it was just a matter of fussing with details.

Canada is the 53rd-ranked team in the world and on the rise. New Zealand is 105th and just barely treading water. New Zealand is Canada 10 years ago, and not in a fun, preinflation sort of way.

A complicating factor – Herdman’s son, Jay, plays for New Zealand’s under-19 national team. An even more complicated one – money. Some people love their job, but everyone loves money.

That said, judged from the perspective of social capital, the New Zealand job is not a promotion. It’s not even a lateral move. It’s trading the big leagues for the bush leagues.

So what’s going on? Does Herdman want out of Canada? And if so, why? Does he want more money? Is he a secret Lord of the Rings superfan?

This is what happens when a story like this is loosed into the world and not recaptured immediately – people begin to wonder all sorts of fantastical things.

As usual, whenever a story about it is breaking, Canada Soccer was caught in a blank stare on Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon that an official denial was put together.

Three people commented in that statement – Herdman, Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane and Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis.

Bontis affirmed the “full confidence” of the board in Herdman, which is weird. He just took Canada to its first World Cup in 40 years. Why wouldn’t the board have confidence in him?

Cochrane noted first and foremost that Herdman is under contract until after the 2026 World Cup, which is also weird. That’s not news.

Herdman was unequivocal: “I’m not going anywhere.” But he also felt the need to mention that he’s got “several offers” recently, including one from New Zealand, which is super weird. If you’re happy where you are, why do so many people think you aren’t? And why do you feel the need to share that information?

Another oddity – no one mentioned anything about the story out of New Zealand being wrong. Actually, none of them mentioned the story at all.

If there were no truth to any of this, all that was required was a straight denial. That should have taken 15 minutes to put together.

Instead, it took hours to wrangle all the top decision-makers at Canada Soccer to patch up a complex, interwoven, multiperson denial. That has the whiff of an organization protesting o’ermuch.

So no fire, but plenty of smoke and lots of time left to sit around doing a paranoid arson investigation.

Nothing has come of this little fizzle, but something’s coming. That’s how this works. Not always, but often enough to make it a rule. It’s just a matter of figuring when, where, who and how it can hurt the most.

Can the Canadian men’s program survive without Herdman? Of course it can. Every graveyard is full of indispensable men, but none are as chock-a-block as the crypts of sports. Herdman’s done the hard work of stitching the Canadian team into a unit. All the next person has to do is hold that group together until 2026.

A better question is can the men’s team thrive if we’re going to spend the next three years trying to figure out when John Herdman is leaving, and where he’s going, and who’s to blame for that, and what does Alphonso Davies think about that, and why is Canada Soccer always like this, and exactly how long is a regulation pitchfork?

Those questions are a lot more interesting, and the people who care about them – it’s a small group, but it’s growing – will spill barrels of virtual ink interrogating them.

Uncertainty is an enemy of successful sports organizations, and intrigue is its accelerant. From player strikes to spats over pay to people rubbishing the organization after they’ve left, Canada Soccer has always had these twin weaknesses much worse than most. The difference is that now people have started paying attention.

At the very least, making the World Cup in Qatar was supposed to graduate Canada out of this high school state of affairs. Canada was a big-timer now, with a big-time coach with big-time plans. Well, I hope Canada Soccer is happy. Because now it has a big-time HR headache, and shouting at people that you feel fine, fine, totally fine is not going to make them believe you.

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