Last updated: October 3, 2022
Legal online sports betting is available in Canada, with each province able to regulate sports betting inside its borders. Most provinces have some form of sports betting available via provincial lotteries. But the growth of the Canadian sports betting industry is just beginning.
On April 4, Ontario became the first province to host a competitive sports betting market. There are a multitude of sportsbooks live, including the legacy lottery site Proline as well as TheScore Bet, PointsBet, BetMGM, FanDuel, DraftKings, Caesars, and BetRivers. More are anticipated to launch soon if they haven’t done so already. Ontario isn’t the only province expanding, either.
Alberta also indicated its intent to allow multiple betting providers by releasing an RFP for two retail sportsbooks. The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority announced that it expects online sports betting to debut in summer 2022.
With so many moving pieces in Canadian sports betting, it’s important to keep up with the evolving situation. Read on for the latest information and news about sports betting in Canada.
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What’s happening in Canada sports betting right now
- October 3, 2022 — Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission is still working with private operators for two retail sportsbooks. The only legal online sportsbook in the province is the AGCL’s PlayAlberta, while lottery retailers can use the Western Canada Lottery Corp.‘s Sport Select.
- September 19, 2022 — The PlayFallsview brand online sportsbook and iCasino launched in Ontario. Mohegan Digital is running the apps in Ontario.
- September 7, 2022 — The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario approved Pinnacle for sports betting in Ontario. The sportsbook prides itself on its low-margin model which aims to provide better prices for bettors.
- September 1, 2022 — Ontario regulators approved Bet99 as an online gaming operator in the province. Bet99 has multiple partnerships in the province, including with the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews.
- August 30, 2022 — Ontario regulators released the first market report for the province’s online gaming market. Online gaming operators took CAD$4.1 billion in wagers during the second quarter of 2022, comparable to Connecticut‘s iGaming market.
- August 23, 2022 — OpenBet is expanding its Canadian operations. The expansion comes through the British Columbia Lottery Corporation‘s agreement with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority.
- August 15, 2022 — William Hill informed affiliates it will temporarily halt operations in Ontario as it migrates to the regulated market. The brand will join other gray market operators like bet365 and Betway in making the switch.
- August 9, 2022 — Rush Street Interactive announced a brand and content deal with Canadian broadcaster Natasha Staniszewski. The broadcaster will produce content for BetRivers in Ontario and US markets.
- August 4, 2022 — Penn Entertainment (formerly Penn National Gaming) reported its second-quarter earnings, which included a look at some numbers from theScore Bet in Ontario. The company said 67% of bettors are also users of theScore‘s media app.
- July 29, 2022 — PointsBet took $11.2 million in bets during the quarter in Ontario sports betting, according to the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call. The handle generated $139,558 in sportsbook revenue. It is the first glimpse into any sports betting numbers from the province.
- July 21, 2022 — Bally Bet was granted an Ontario iGaming and sports betting license for the province. It is the 19th operator to enter the open Ontario gaming market.
- July 19, 2022 — Canadian Gaming Association President Paul Burns was inducted into the Sports Betting Hall of Fame during the SBC Summit. Burns was a strong proponent during the legislative push to legalize single-event sports betting in Canada.
- July 12, 2022 — The Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority expects to launch its online sports betting platform by the end of the of the Canadian Football League season.
- June 29, 2022 — The NFL expanded its partnership with FanDuel Sportsbook to include Canada. The sportsbook can now use NFL marks in Canada and create free-to-play games and offer unique NFL prizes in contests.
- June 30, 2022 — DraftKings was fined CAN$100,000 by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. It is the third penalty levied by the AGCO.
- June 20, 2022 — Curling Canada announced PointsBet Invitational, a curling tournament in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The tournament is a new format for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, according to a release.
- June 16, 2022 — BetRegal, which is still waiting for regulatory approval to operate in Ontario, announced a partnership with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League. BetRegal is also a CFL partner across Canada.
- June 8, 2022 — BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt said during a fireside chat at the Canadian Gaming Summit that the sportsbook and iGaming app had 70 million Ontario transactions during the month of May, its second month of operation in Canada. The province’s regulators have yet to release a revenue report.
- June 1, 2022 — TheScore will shut down its US sportsbook operations July 1, turning its focus to Canada sports betting. In the US, fellow Penn National brand Barstool Sportsbook will take priority.
Is sports betting legal in Canada?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Canada. Most notably, Ontario expanded its sports betting footprint with an open market on April 4.
As it turns out, sports betting has been available as a parlay option through provincial lotteries for several years. However, more robust options appeared for Canadians in August 2021. That month, Canadian lawmakers amended the nation’s Criminal Code to allow for single-game sports betting via C-218. Single-game means the type of sports betting allowed in Las Vegas and throughout many US states.
The key to understanding the law is that by itself, it did not make sports betting legal throughout Canada. Similar to what happened when the US Supreme Court struck down the US federal ban in 2018, this legislation allows provinces to decide individually whether they want to allow sports wagering and in what forms.
What’s next for sports betting in Canada?
That depends largely on the individual provinces. For the moment, all eyes are on Ontario as the first province to open its borders to commercial sportsbook operators. Canada’s most populous province is now the test case for a competitive sports betting market in the country. Others, like British Columbia, could just be expansions of the current lottery system.
Alberta has indicated it is seeking proposals for retail sportsbooks, and Saskatchewan authorities have announced they expect online sports betting to launch soon.
Sportsbooks coming to Canada
A number of companies either have shown interest in offering sports betting in Canada or appear likely to do so should a provinical market open in earnest. Here are some of the main sportsbooks that launched in Canada. All of these apps are available only in Ontario:
- TheScore: Based in Canada, the media company is best known for its sports information platform. TheScore Bet is one of just a few companies to already receive conditional licensing in Ontario. Executives from theScore frequently express interest in what they describe as their home turf. Penn National Gaming acquired theScore Media in 2021. TheScore Bet launched in Ontario on April 4.
- PointsBet: The Australia-based company built an experienced executive team for its Canadian operation, including a former Rogers Communication executive and a former daily fantasy sports company president. The company is bullish on partnerships, like one with Curling Canada, and received approval from Ontario in February. PointsBet became available in Ontario on April 4.
- BetMGM: A top-tier online sportsbook in the US, BetMGM is targeting hockey north of the border, including deals with The Hockey News, Wayne Gretzky, and most recently, Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. BetMGM is available for play in Ontario as of April 4.
- Caesars: Caesars already has a physical location in Ontario, and using Caesars Windsor as an entry point for sports betting would be quite natural, both in Ontario and (eventually) throughout the entire country. Caesars Sportsbook app launched in Ontario on April 4.
- BetRivers: BetRivers is the online sportsbook brand for Rush Street, which has several casino locations throughout the American northeast. The book is certainly planning to come to Canada, evidenced by recent advertising. BetRivers opened for play in Ontario on April 4.
- Bet365: The powerhouse international sportsbook already operated in Canada’s gray market, and received approval from Ontario regulators to seek a license in the legal market there. On April 4, the app officially migrated to the legal market in Ontario.
- FanDuel: FanDuel announced a Canadian general manager in October 2021: Dale Hooper. A former CEO and president of Cannabis Compliance Inc., Hooper has plenty of experience in Canadian regulatory matters. FanDuel Sportsbook is live and available in Ontario.
- DraftKings: The giant in DFS and sports betting throughout the US is DraftKings Sportsbook live and available in Ontario. DraftKings recently expanded its agreements with the NFL, part of which increase its access to offer DFS in Canada.
Recent Canadian sports betting news
Canada sports betting law
Canadian lawmakers repealed a law that prevented provinces from allowing single-game sports wagering in August 2021. Every province launched some sort of retail sports betting product within months of the new legal environment, and many added a complimentary online option.
Furthermore, Ontario is now the first province with a commercially competitive online market. The open season in Ontario began in April 2022. Several apps are set to go live with BetMGM and Caesars the first of many available for play inside the provincial borders, from Windsor to Fort Severn.
Previously, only a limited version of sports betting in the form of a parlay product was available from provincial lotteries. One example is ProLine in Ontario.
The Canadian Gaming Association lobbied for more than a decade to alter the country’s sports betting law. The effort finally gained momentum when the US market began to open in 2018.
What C-218 means for Canadian sports betting
Despite its broad effect on gambling in Canada, C-218 is a short and direct piece of legislation.
As stated by the official summary, C-218 “amends paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code to make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the province that involves betting on a race (other than a horse race) or fight, or on a single sport event or athletic contest.”
In other words, each provincial government is able to manage its own sports betting industry, should it choose to do so. Almost any sport is viable fodder for wagering. The only exception is horse racing, which is separate and falls under its own set of regulations.
The law’s chief effect is to remove the prohibition on single-game wagering in Canada. Canadians were only able to bet on parlays available from provincial lotteries up to that point. Because the law’s language is so broad, it applies to both retail and online sports betting. In theory, a provincial government could decline to allow sports betting to proceed, but none have done so.
Most importantly, the law places the new sports betting industry firmly under the control of provincial governments. It is likely that some areas of Canada will prefer to keep their sportsbook operations “in-house” for the foreseeable future. However, Ontario chose to go a different direction and opened its market. Other provinces, such as Alberta, have also indicated they might pursue a more competitive market.
Legal sports betting options by province
There are multiple legal betting options in Canada. Each province has its own sports betting products available through provincial lottery retailers and online. Below is a list of the options that Canadians have at their disposal, but bear in mind that this list is fluid and will change as provincial governments apply their own approaches.
- Alberta — Western Canada Lottery Corp. (Play Alberta)
- British Columbia — British Columbia Lottery Corp. (Sports Action)
- Manitoba — Western Canada Lottery Corp. (Play Now)
- New Brunswick — Atlantic Lottery Corp. (ProLine)
- Newfoundland and Labrador — Atlantic Lottery Corp. (ProLine)
- Nova Scotia — Atlantic Lottery Corp. (ProLine)
- Ontario — Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (ProLine Plus) and a variety of commercial operators
- Prince Edward Island — Atlantic Lottery Corp. (ProLine)
- Quebec — Loto-Québec (Mise-o-Jeu+)
- Saskatchewan/Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories — Western Canada Lottery Corp. (no online option yet)
Ontario sports betting
Ontario is primed to be the sports betting leader for Canada given how populous it is. The province has more than 38% of Canada’s population and would be the fifth-largest US state, in front of Pennsylvania.
Ontario Lottery and Gaming launched ProLine+ on Aug. 27, 2021, allowing residents to wager on single events. In addition, the province opened its market to outside companies like Caesars and BetMGM. The new Ontario online sports betting opened on April 4.
Ontario also borders Michigan in the US. Legal sports betting in Michigan is available both online and at retail locations. Some of those same apps available for play in Michigan launched in Ontario, too.
Toronto, the largest city in Ontario, has four significant professional teams in American sports leagues for betting:
- MLB — Toronto Blue Jays
- MLS — Toronto FC
- NBA — Toronto Raptors
- NHL — Toronto Maple Leafs
British Columbia sports betting
British Columbia officials eagerly awaited an end to the ban on single-event sports wagering. The province’s lottery encouraged federal legislators to approve C-218 and bring legal sports betting to Canada.
“BCLC expects single-event sports betting would generate an estimated $125 million to $175 million in additional revenue through online and land-based opportunities.”
The BCLC launched an expanded PlayNow.com product as soon as it was able to, in August 2021. Professional sports teams in British Columbia include a couple in major sports leagues:
- NHL — Vancouver Canucks
- MLS — Vancouver Whitecaps
Overview of legal gambling in Canada
Here is a quick look at some key features of legal gambling in Canada:
|Casinos||Casinos are located in almost every province. Some are operated by First Nations while others are operated by large Canadian gambling companies like Great Canadian Gaming and Gateway Casinos and Entertainment. The largest casino in Canada is located in Quebec: Casino de Montreal.|
|Fantasy sports||Daily fantasy sports sites are legal in Canada with the biggest operators accepting players in the provinces.|
|Horse racing||Horse racing, and betting on horse racing, are both legal in Canada. The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency oversees the industry.|
|Lottery||Five provincial lottery commissions oversee various lottery games, both online and in person. Lottery games include online casino play in some provinces as well as traditional lottery games like Lotto Max and keno.|
|Sports betting||Provincial lotteries operated parlay online betting sites before 2021. Now, each province can expand their betting options if they choose. Most have done so.|
It should be noted that a massive gray market for sports betting allows Canadians to wager at offshore sportsbooks. These offshore books don’t pay taxes and aren’t regulated at the provincial or federal level. Additionally, regulators have expressed the potential to crack down on these operators after launching legal options.
Sports bettors make an additional gamble whenever they bet on these offshore sites, as there’s no guarantee of payment for winning bets. Some offshore sportsbooks have closed their operations without warning and without returning customer funds.
Canada vs. US sports betting
The sports betting markets in Canada and the United States are quickly becoming mirror images.
To date, more than 80% of all states have pursued some form of legislation for legal sports betting. Legal US sports betting could become enormous in a short time as the adoption of mobile wagering increases.
For example, the state of New Jersey alone saw more than $6 billion wagered in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of sports. New York saw betting approach nearly $2 billion in its first month of service in January 2022.
Canada is still in the process of expanding its sports betting profile. Like the US, the Canadian government has placed the decision about sports betting with its regional governments in the provinces. With one exception, no province in Canada has allowed commercial sportsbooks to launch legally and has preferred to keep sports betting with their respective provincial lotteries.
The lone exception is Ontario. In April 2022, Ontarians gained the ability to play on a variety of sportsbook apps, such as theScore Bet, BetMGM, Caesars, and PointsBet. For all intents and purposes, Ontario now more closely resembles many states in terms of its treatment of sports betting.
A recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers outlined the economic outlook for Canadian sports betting. Within two years of legalization, PwC estimates the market could reach up to $2.4 billion. Similarly, a Deloitte Canada report recently estimated Canadians could grow their legal sports betting market to $28 billion within just five years.
Most popular sports to wager on in Canada
There would be no point in talking about popular sports in Canada without 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 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 MLB and the NBA.
Canadian sports betting timeline
2013: MP Brian Masse launches the first attempt to end the ban on single-game sports betting in Canada, but it fails.
2016: Masse’s second attempt to end the single-game ban fails.
2020: MP Kevin Waugh launches 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.
2021: Parliament passes C-218 to potentially create a robust Canadian sports betting market. Single-event sports betting is legal as of Aug. 27. Seven provincial lotteries launch sports betting products almost immediately, and the rest follow by the end of the year.
2022: Ontario becomes the first Canadian province to allow external sportsbook apps to do business inside Canada. Big names like theScore Bet, PointsBet, Caesars, and BetMGM are now available to Ontarians and visitors to the province. DraftKings followed with its sportsbook and casino app in May.
Canada sports betting FAQ
Where can I bet on sports in Canada?
For the most part, you can legally bet on sports anywhere in Canada. Each provincial lottery has unveiled a retail sports betting product, and almost all of them have launched an online companion as well. You can also try one of the many lottery retailers in each province if you prefer to bet in person.
The only holdout on the online side is Saskatchewan, and its officials have already indicated they are planning to allow online betting sometime in mid-2022.
Can I bet on my phone in Canada?
Yes, unless you live in Saskatchewan. Each provincial lottery offers an online sports betting option, and Saskatchewan will have one itself in mid-2022. Ontarians now have the biggest selection of online books at their disposal, since commercial sportsbooks debuted there in April.
What is the legal age for betting online in Canada?
The legal age for sports betting in Canada varies on a provincial level. For the most part, players must be 19 or older in order to play. However, Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec do allow betting from 18-year-olds.
Can I play daily fantasy sports in Canada?
Yes, daily fantasy sports contests are legal in Canada. The industry’s biggest names, DraftKings and FanDuel, both operate in the country.
Is DraftKings legal in Canada?
As a fantasy sports operator, yes. As a sportsbook, not yet, but probably soon. DFS is legal in Canada right now, so DraftKings is not an unknown brand to citizens of the Great White North. DraftKings Sportsbook might be coming to Ontario in the near future. However, DraftKings DFS stopped accepting players in Ontario in April 2022.