Canada Sports Betting
Sports betting in Canada is legal, with each province able to regulate the activity with its own set of rules. Most provinces have some form of sports betting available via provincial lotteries, but the growth of the Canadian sports betting industry is just beginning.
In 2022, Ontario became the first province to host a competitive sports betting market with the launch of commercial online sportsbooks such as DraftKings, BetMGM, and TheScore Bet. Alberta has indicated its intent to allow multiple betting providers, and Saskatchewan debuted online sports betting in 2022.
With so many moving pieces in Canadian sports betting, it’s important to keep up with the evolving situation. Read below for the latest information and news about sports betting in Canada.
Best Canadian sports betting apps 2023
WAYS TO BET
GET IN on THE ACTION
Is sports betting legal in Canada?
Yes, sports betting is legal in Canada. In August 2021, Canadian lawmakers amended the nation’s Criminal Code to allow for single-game sports betting via C-218.
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 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?
What’s next for Canadian sports betting depends largely on the individual provinces. While there have been minor developments in Alberta and Saskatchewan, most of the attention is on Ontario, the first province to open its borders to commercial sportsbooks.
Canada’s most populous province has been the test case for a competitive sports betting market that other provinces like British Columbia and Alberta could eventually emulate if they choose to expand their current systems.
What’s happening in Canada sports betting right now
- February 1, 2023 — Ontario sportsbook NorthStar Bets is giving Canadians the opportunity to bet on whether groundhog Wiarton Willie will see his shadow on Groundhog Day.
- January 11, 2023 — Canada’s first full-service retail sportsbook, the Caesars Sportsbook at Caesars Windsor, opened officially to the public. The Caesars Windsor is the largest casino resort in Canada.
- December 28, 2022 — Amidst integrity investigations, another UFC fighter, Jeff Molina, was suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Ontario regulators continue to monitor the situation in hopes of accepting bets on the MMA promoter again.
- December 20, 2022 — Bet99 announced a multiyear partnership with the NHL. As an official partner of the hockey league, Bet99 will also offer a new free-to-play game called NHL PrePlay.
- December 9, 2022 — Alberta regulators reinstated UFC betting within its lottery sports betting product. The decision came following several actions by the MMA promoter to solidify its integrity with sportsbooks and regulators.
- December 2, 2022 — Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis asked sportsbooks to remove UFC events from their betting menu. The decision comes just a day after Ontario regulators made a similar move.
- November 28, 2022 — The Mohawk Council of the Kahnewake announced it was challenging Ontario sports betting regulators in court. The First Nation wants an exemption for online gaming for all of the First Nations communities across Canada.
- November 27, 2022 — Saskatchewan continues its push toward in-person sports betting at casinos. Dakota Dunes Casino near Saskatoon announced it would open a sports betting lounge in early 2023.
- November 14, 2022 — Saskatchewan is creating a new corporation called Lotteries and Gaming Saskatchewan to consolidate the management and operation of gaming activities in the province. The entity will oversee casinos, video lottery terminals, lotteries and online gaming.
Top sportsbooks in Canada
A number of companies either have shown interest in offering sports betting in Canada or are already doing so with the intention of expanding as more provinces open up. Here are the top sportsbooks in Canada right now. All are available only in Ontario:
One of the top sportsbooks in North America, DraftKings Sportsbook combines a sleek interface with a great selection of sports and wagers to offer bettors one of the best betting experiences out there. DraftKings also makes it easy to withdraw winnings.
- App rating: 4.8 (iOS), 4.6 (Android)
- Key takeaway: A fast-moving app great for live betting.
This Gibraltar-based sports betting app is known for its user-friendly platform and generous odds. While the customer service can be lacking at times, the solid list of betting options and intuitive interface make up for it.
- App rating: 4.7 (iOS), 4.1 (Android)
- Key takeaway: User-friendly app.
A top-tier online sportsbook in the US, BetMGM Sportsbook has targeted hockey fans in Canada, striking deals with The Hockey News, Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid. The book also offers a fantastic selection of sports on which to bet.
- App rating: 4.7 (iOS), 4.5 (Android)
- Key takeaway: A customizable app with a long list of sports and bets.
The BetRivers Sportsbook app is easy to navigate, but the website can be busy and tough to use at times. BetRivers does have a good menu of betting options and makes the deposit process easy.
- App rating: 4.1 (iOS), 4.3 (Android)
- Key takeaway: Website can be busy and slow but there’s easy depositing.
After years in the gray market, Bet365 is one of several sportsbooks to make its way to the regulated market in Canada. This international app boasts a great menu of live betting options and more obscure sports. Bettors can also use the app’s “Edit Bet” option.
- App rating: 4.6 (iOS), 1.9 (Android)
- Key takeaway: Good menu of rare sports.
Recent Canadian sports betting news
After nearly two months, UFC events are back on the menu for Ontario sports betting. On Thursday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced ON sports betting operators could…
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 for Ontario sports betting 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. in June, the NFL expanded its partnership with FanDuel Sportsbook to include Canada.
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.