Single-event sports betting in Canada will go live August 27.
On Thursday, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti announced the effective date for bill C-218, which legalizes single-event sports betting in Canada, at Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls. The announcement caps off more than a month of waiting after C-218 received Royal Assent in June.
C-218 amended a line in the Canadian Criminal Code to allow single-event sports wagering in the country. However, just as individual states regulate US sports betting, Canadian provinces will decide individually if they want to legalize.
Canada lotteries ready to roll
Because Canadian provinces already can offer parlay wagers through their lotteries, several will be ready with expanded products on Aug. 27.
The British Columbia Lottery Crop. will launch single-event wagering on PlayNow.com on the effective date. Additionally, the BCLC is looking at ways to expand offerings at land-based outlets. Manitoba also runs through PlayNow.
Alberta will go live with single-event sports betting this fall on Play Alberta, according to Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis. Both Manitoba and Alberta are part of the Western Canada Lotteries Corp., along with Saskatchewan and two territories, which works closely with the BCLC.
The Atlantic Lottery Corp. is also ready to offer single-event wagering, with a “small change” to its website, according to the CBC.
Other options still taking shape in Canada
Aside from Ontario, Canadian Gaming Association President and CEO Paul Burns is not sure how many provinces will offer operators an avenue to market.
“People are putting a lot of numbers out and expectations on the market, but until we see what provinces do, we just don’t know,” Burns said in a Q&A with LSR.
Burns said Alberta expressed interest in a retail model at casinos that could include mobile options.
He also said Saskatchewan gave online sports betting rights to the Indian Gaming Authority, which operates six casinos in the province. Lametti confirmed that arrangement during Thursday’s announcement.
Ontario working on sports betting regulations
Ontario regulators plan to launch an open market in late 2021. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario released a draft of sports betting regulations for stakeholder feedback last month.
The AGCO placed an Aug. 18 deadline for submissions.
Ontario is the most anticipated Canadian market because of its population and desire to offer a consumer-friendly market. It would be the fifth-largest state in the US.
“Generally speaking, Ontario is looking to implement an open and competitive igaming market, including sports betting,” the AGCO communications team wrote in an email to LSR last month. “This approach has been the subject of an intensive consultation process led by the Ontario Ministries of Finance and the Attorney General, and supported by the AGCO over the past few months. Sportsbooks and other online operators have provided extensive inputs and we have also looked to leading jurisdictions around the world.
“The AGCO is confident that the legalization of single-events sports betting will allow for the channelization of more players into the regulated market and, therefore, excited about the stronger player and betting integrity protections that will mean.”
Sportsbook operators line up for Canada
Open access to most of the provinces is up in the air and sportsbook operators are still positioning themselves for a piece of the market.
Some of the moves made by operators looking north:
- PointsBet built out a leadership team for PointsBet Canada, including former executives from Rogers and Monkey Knife Fight.
- DraftKings expanded its daily fantasy sports partnership with the NFL to include Canada.
- Penn National Gaming acquired Score Media, the Toronto-based media and sports betting company.
- BetMGM has partnership deals with The Hockey News and Wayne Gretzky.
Long road to sports betting in Canada
The journey to launch single-event sports betting in Canada started more than a decade ago. C-218’s path started in February 2020, when House of Commons MP Kevin Waugh introduced the bill.
The Canadian government picked the bill up in November 2020. Despite several periods where its future was in doubt, C-218 cleared the Senate June 22.
Now, many Canadians will be able to legally bet on single games at the end of August.