Canada Sports Betting

Sports betting in Canada exists, but it’s not optimized – yet. A new effort to legalize single-game sports betting in 2021 is gaining momentum.

Right now, only parlay betting (multiple events on the same ticket) is an option through provincial lotteries.

This has led much of the sports betting market to migrate to illegal offshore sportsbooks. Of the C$14.5 billion bet on sports in Canada each year, just C$500 million of that is done legally through provincial lotteries, according to the Candian Gaming Association.

The future of sports betting in Canada

The latest attempt at legalizing single-game Canadian sports betting has legs. The movement started in early 2020 as a private member bill, C-218, sponsored by Kevin Waugh.

It was eventually picked up as government legislation in November 2020, which suggests the issue is close to settled.

Ending the federal ban on single-game betting should change the landscape of Canadian sports betting significantly. It would mean more opportunities for bettors to bet legally and could lead to provinces opening up licensing to other operators.

When will online sports betting launch in Canada?

Online sports betting is already allowed in six provinces:

  • British Columbia
  • Nova Scotia
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec

Of course, these legal products all require parlay bets of two or more events.

It’s unclear at this point if additional provinces would authorize online sports betting.

There are other online options, but they aren’t regulated. Offshore sportsbooks take advantage of the fact that single-game betting is illegal in Canada and therefore serve the market for what bettors can’t get legally.

These offshore operators don’t pay taxes and aren’t regulated at the provincial or federal level. Sports bettors are making an additional gamble whenever they bet on these offshore sites as there’s no guarantee winning bets will be paid.

Some offshore sportsbook operators have closed their operations without warning and without returning customer funds.

Recent Canada sports betting stories

Canada sports betting

Analysis: What New Ontario Auditor General Report Means For Canada Sports Betting

Canadian residents who like sports betting have reason to be excited. Single-game sports betting appears inevitable following the introduction of legislation by the Liberal government that would repeal a prohibition in Canada’s criminal code that currently only allows for parlay bets. Additionally, Ontario residents saw the province’s Conservative government re-up their interest in moving forward […] Read More
Posted on: January 5, 2021 | Opinion Regulation Sports Betting | John Holden
Canada sports betting

Analysis: What To Expect From Legal Single-Game Sports Betting In Canada

News broke last week that single-game sports betting was all but a done deal in Canada. It’s exciting for a country long forced to choose between playing parlay cards or choosing any number of largely unregulated alternatives. Even before the announcement of an upcoming government-introduced bill, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins talked on the company’s earnings […] Read More
Posted on: December 7, 2020 | Opinion Regulation Sports Betting | John Holden

Legal betting options in CA

There are legal betting options in Canada, but they all require a parlay of at least two or more wagers.

Lotteries operate sports betting at the provincial level in Canada. All provincial lotteries offer sports betting:

  • Atlantic Lottery Corporation (provides sports betting to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island)
  • British Columbia Lottery Corporation
  • Loto-Québec
  • Ontario Lottery and Gaming
  • Western Canada Lottery Corporation (provides sports betting to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba as well as the territories of The Yukon Territory, Northwest Territories and Nunavut)

Ontario sports betting

Ontario is primed to be the sports betting leader for Canada given its population.

The province has more than 38% of Canada’s population and would be the fifth-largest US state in front of Pennsylvania.

There’s one drawback for sports betting in Ontario, though: Ontario Lottery and Gaming does not currently allow bettors to place their bets online.

Toronto, the capital of Ontario, has three significant American professional teams when it comes to sports betting:

  • MLB‘s Blue Jays
  • NBA‘s Raptors
  • NHL‘s Maple Leafs

Ontario also borders Michigan in the United States. Michigan is a state that has legal sports betting at retail locations and will add online wagering in early 2021. That likely will increase pressure on Ontario to legalize sports betting in the near future to avoid losing potential tax dollars to Michigan.

Most popular sports to wager on

There’d be no point in talking about popular sports in Canada if we didn’t mention hockey.

There are seven National Hockey League teams based in Canada:

  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Winnipeg Jets

With that many teams, hockey is sure to get its fair share of the legal Canadian sports betting market. Just like its southern neighbor, though, football will likely see the most bets across any sports.

Canada has the Canadian Football League, but the National Football League is plenty popular in Canada as well. According to a January 2020 blog from Mintel, a quarter of Canadians follow the NFL, same as the CFL.

There should be some betting love given to other leagues as well. Toronto is the home to the only Canadian franchises in Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.

Canada and daily fantasy sports

Daily fantasy sports are legal in Canada.

The industry’s biggest operators, DraftKings and FanDuel, both operate in Canada. That means should single-game sports betting be allowed in Canada, the two biggest US sports betting operators would also have a distinct advantage in Canada with its portfolio of DFS players.

Is horse racing legal in Canada?

Yes, horse racing and betting on horse racing is legal in every province of Canada.

The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency regulates and supervises betting on horse racing at the federal level.

Canadian sports betting timeline

2020: MP Kevin Waugh launched the third effort to end the ban on single-game sports betting in Canada.

C-218 received significant support from multiple parties and was eventually picked up as a government bill in November.

2016: MP Brian Masse‘s second attempt to end the single-game ban fails.

2013: MP Brian Masse launches the first attempt to end the ban on single-game sports betting in Canada, but it fails.

Sports betting FAQ

Is sports betting legal in Canada?

Yes, betting on sports is legal in Canada with a slight twist compared to legal US sports betting. The federal government currently bans betting on single games, meaning all bets must be parlay bets.

Where can I bet on sports in Canada?

Right now, you can bet on sports in any province or territory in Canada. Betting right now is only available through provincial lotteries. These bets must be parlays, although  the government is working to legalize single-game wagering.

Can I bet on sports on my phone?

There are six provinces that allow online sports betting right now:

  • British Columbia
  • Nova Scotia
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec

All of those legal betting options are through provincial lotteries.

There are some unregulated sportsbooks that serve the Canadian market. These offshore operators are not regulated at the provincial or federal level, which makes betting with those operators risky.

Consumers have no legal recourse when betting with an offshore operator. That means a bettor could be denied a payout or have their account closed with funds unreturned without any recourse.

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