The online sports betting landscape in the Great White North was forever changed on June 23, 2021, when the Senate of Canada went ahead and approved legal, single-game wagering for the first time in the nation’s history. Prior to the passage of The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (C-218), the bill that made this all a reality, Canadian bettors were restricted to betting parlays, or wagers with at least two or more legs involved, if they were to bet legally. If players chose to take their business elsewhere, grey-market European bookmakers and other offshore operators would glom a good majority of the country’s online action.
Best Canadian Sports Betting Apps
Ever since August 27, 2021 when bill C-218 was officially put into play, Canada has been slowly but surely carving out a legitimate online sports betting industry, starting with Ontario’s booming legal market that went live on April 4, 2022. Canada’s largest and most populous province got the ball rolling early with a bang and is expected to be followed by the rest of the country’s provinces and territories, which are now permitted to allow single-game online sports betting under their own discretion.
Read on for more information on the single-game legalization efforts passed by Parliament in June 2021, a detailed look at the unfolding Canadian sports betting scene, and what we can expect the online market to look like in Canada once it is fully operational.
The path to passing C-218
Efforts to legalize single-game betting in Canada were ongoing for several years. The idea was debated around in Parliament since 2015 and prior. One could make the argument that sports betting getting legalized in the United States is what finally created enough momentum for Canada to follow suit. Similar to the U.S., the major sports leagues and other stakeholders who were once opposed to legalization changed their minds and publicly expressed their support for the bipartisan legislative efforts in Parliament.
The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, or C-218, was Canada’s most recent legislative effort to legalize single-game betting. It was a simple bill that would change the criminal code to make it explicitly lawful for provinces to administer and regulate single-game sports betting. It included an exemption for the horse racing industry and enjoyed a great deal of support from almost every major stakeholder group. The bill passed the House of Commons, Canada’s equivalent to the House of Representatives, in February 2021, but its fate in the Senate, Canada’s equivalent of the Senate (pun intended), remained unclear until June 23, 2021, a day that will forever be celebrated by Canadian sports bettors.
After weeks of debate and consideration, time was running out for the Senate to vote on C-218 prior to its planned summer recess. There was also the possibility of an election in the fall that would derail the bill and leave its supporters back at square one. All that, and more, led to some tense moments for Canadian sports betting proponents. But on June 23rd, the stars aligned and a vote was held on the bill. After a few hours of debate, it ultimately passed with the final vote tally coming in at 57-20 with 5 abstentions.
Canada sports betting by province
After C-218 was passed in June, the Canadian federal government waited several weeks to announce that the law would take effect on August 27, 2021, meaning that provinces were able to legalize single-game sports betting as of that date. As mentioned above, the federal government will not be regulating sports betting in Canada – each province can legalize, or not legalize, single-game wagering and regulate it as they see fit.
Seven provinces jumped at the opportunity right off the bat, with British Columbia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec immediately accepting single-game action through provincial lottery retailers. Alberta hopped on board shortly after, while Saskatchewan and Canada’s three territories (Yukon Territory, Northwest Territory, and Nunavut) opted to roll with single-game wagering strictly at retail locations rather than online, for now. In February 2022, Nova Scotia became the final province/territory to add the newly-legalized single-game wagering to its menu of options.
Here is an update on each province’s current status regarding single-game wagering:
Among Canada’s eleven provinces and territories, Ontario has made by far the most progress with its online sports betting market since first receiving the green light in August 2021. All iGaming operations taking place within the province are overseen by The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), a regulatory group created by iGaming Ontario ahead of the launch. The AGCO covers any and all online gaming in Ontario, from sports betting to online casino gambling.
iGaming Ontario is also responsible for crafting agreements with outside sportsbook operators who wish to enter the province, of which there have been many. When Ontario’s online market first went live on April 4, 2022, the province was already home to a handful of popular U.S. commercial operators, including FanDuel, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook, among many others. This is in addition to ProLine Plus, the platform previously offered by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation when Canada was restricted to only betting parlay wagers.
Ontario’s eagerness to allow commercial operators to enter its iGaming market has separated itself from the rest of Canada’s provinces and territories, as it remains the only one to do so at this point in time. Here is a full list of operators currently available in Ontario:
|Ontario Sportsbook||Launch Date|
|PointsBet||April 4, 2022|
|FanDuel||April 4, 2022|
|theScore Bet||April 4, 2022|
|Caesars||April 4, 2022|
|BetMGM||April 4, 2022|
|BetRivers||April 4, 2022|
|888sport||April 4, 2022|
|Coolbet||April 4, 2022|
|LeoVegas||April 4, 2022|
|Rivalry||April 4, 2022|
|Royal Panda||April 4, 2022|
|DraftKings Sportsbook||May 18, 2022|
Loto-Quebec, the first public lottery corporation in Canada’s history, had previously only offered parlay betting to residents of the province. On August 12, 2021, shortly after word got out that Canada was on the verge of a legalization, Loto-Quebec announced that it would begin offering single-game wagering on the first day it would be legally permitted to do so. As a result, single-event betting in Quebec officially ensued both online and at Loto-Quebec’s various retail locations on August 27, 2021. Locals can now place their single bets online with Loto-Quebec’s Mise-o-jeu+ platform or head over to any brick-and-mortar casino featuring Mise-o-jeu or Prédictions.
British Columbia, the nation’s western-most province, was one of the seven locations to jump at the opportunity to offer single-game wagering right out of the gate. All of the province’s legal sports betting operations are overseen by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, which added single-game wagers to its PlayNow.com platform on the first day it was legally permitted to do so on August 27, 2021. Residents of the province can now access all of the BCLC’s online lottery, casino, poker, bingo, and sports betting options over at PlayNow.com, which remains the province’s only legal sportsbook.
New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island were three of Canada’s four Atlantic Provinces to introduce single-game wagers on Day 1, adding the option to their respective services on August 27, 2021. The fourth and final Atlantic province to do so was Nova Scotia, which finally added single-game sports betting to its menu on February 11, 2022, just ahead of Super Bowl 56. All iGaming operations taking place within the four Atlantic provinces are overseen by the Atlantic Lottery Corporation and due to this, bettors residing in any of the four must place any and all legal action with PRO•LINE Stadium, the ALC’s only available sports betting platform at the moment.
Prairie Provinces & Territories
The three prairie provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, & Alberta) and three territories (Northwest Territories, Nunavut, & Yukon) located in the middle of Canada combined to form the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC), which oversees lottery games and sports betting in each of the six areas.
Canada’s fifth-most populous province added single-game wagering to its online offerings on August 27, 2021. Much like players located in British Columbia, residents of Manitoba are restricted to using the PlayNow.com platform. The Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation, the crown agency in charge of providing legalized gambling to the province, partnered with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation in order to bring the BCLC’s sports betting product to Manitoba. If future changes are made, many believe that both Manitoba and British Columbia will expand their respective markets in unison.
Joining Manitoba with single-game online wagering is none other than Alberta, which also launched single-game wagering on its Play Alberta platform on September 1, 2021. Home to both the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, Alberta is sure to ring in its fair share of online action. Previously restricted to using Sport Select, bettors in both Manitoba and Alberta now have access to an industry-standard, legal sportsbook with a full range of menu options.
Similar to Manitoba’s collaboration with the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) announced on June 6, 2022 that it had secured a vendor agreement with the BCLC to begin the development of an online gaming platform for its province. BCLC’s PlayNow.com is now set to arrive in Saskatchewan at some point in 2022, fully equipped with single-game online sports wagering.
Nunavut, Yukon, & the Northwest Territories
Unfortunately for those living in Nunavut, Yukon, or the Northwest Territories, there are no online sports betting options currently available in any of those areas – everything is strictly retail for now.
Which sportsbooks are coming to Canada?
Single-game sports betting has officially arrived in Canada, and we’ve already seen various big names flock into Ontario, the only province to allow commercial operators to set up shop thus far. Most of the previously-discussed provincial lottery commissions have already went ahead and added single-game wagering to their platforms, however until they expand their markets and involve third-party operators like Ontario, the Canadian sports betting landscape cannot reach its full potential. That said, we can use Ontario’s current market to pinpoint which brands are showing the most interest in migrating to the Great White North:
- theScore Bet – The Penn National Gaming-owned Canadian company had previously launched in Colorado, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey until it was announced in June 2022 that theScore Bet will only operate in Canada starting on July 1, 2022. PNG will continue pushing its Barstool Sportsbook brand over in the U.S., while going all-in on theScore Bet in Canada. theScore Bet was one of the first brands to launch in Ontario when its online market first went live on April 4, 2022, and should be a mainstay throughout the nation moving forward.
- PointsBet – Similar to theScore Bet, PointsBet opened its virtual doors in Ontario on April 4, 2022, the first day to do so. The launch followed PointsBet appointing a Chief Commercial Officer for Canadian operations as well, a move that foreshadows plenty more activity up North. Back in January 2022, the brand inked an exclusive partnership with the Trailer Park Boys, a popular television series which takes place in Nova Scotia.
- FanDuel – As one of the largest, most notable sportsbook providers in North America, there was little doubt that FanDuel Sportsbook would arrive in Canada along with a legal sports betting market. The DFS operator-turned bookmaker did just that, going live in Ontario on April 4, 2022. Much like the brand’s ever-growing presence in the United States, we do not anticipate Ontario being FanDuel’s last stop up North.
- Caesars – Already a member of the Canadian Gaming Association as well as the owner and operator of Caesars Windsor in Ontario, this hospitality titan was a sure thing to surface in Canada once permitted to do so. Caesars joined the rest of the aforementioned commercial brands in Ontario on April 4, and will likely work towards getting its product in other provinces over time.
- BetMGM – BetMGM brought on hockey legend Wayne Gretzky as a brand ambassador back in June 2021, a move used to butter-up residents of Ontario ahead of BetMGM’s launch on April 4. The brand has had little trouble expanding throughout the United States and should have no problem doing so across Canada as well.
- BetRivers – After a busy start to 2022 saw the Rush Street Interactive product launch in New York, BetRivers added Ontario to its portfolio of active states on April 4, 2022. As one of the earliest brands to express interest, it’s safe to assume that BetRivers will seek out other opportunities north of the border moving forward.
- 888sport – After a short run over in New Jersey, 888sport seized all sports betting operations in the United States in favor of SI Sportsbook, a new brand expected to take its place. As a result, the 888 brand will continue to operate over in Canada and has already launched in Ontario. As one of the better online sportsbooks over in Europe, Canadians bettors are in for a real treat, should 888sport expand to other provinces or territories.
- Unibet – Despite struggling to find its footing over in the United States, Unibet went live in Ontario on April 4, 2022. The brand is extremely popular overseas, however, and should be able to carve its niche in the Canadian market.
- DraftKings – A bit late to the party, DraftKings finally joined the other big brands in Ontario on May 18, 2022. Much like FanDuel, DraftKings has succeeded in nearly every market it has entered and we expect Ontario to be no different. Look for DraftKings to also move into other parts of Canada as time progresses and other markets develop.
- Hard Rock – Hard Rock is an active member of the Canadian Gaming Association and owns casinos in Vancouver and Ottawa (opening TBA). It has yet to go live up North, but the brand has clear ties in Canada – making Hard Rock Sportsbook a definite possibility to launch in the future.
Legal gambling in Canada
Now that we’ve gone over what the addition of single-game wagering means to Canada, let’s examine which other gaming options are currently available to bettors in the country.
Lottery-run parlay betting
As we have previously discussed, Canada sports betting has been legal since 1985… just not single-game wagering. Bettors in each of Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories have been able to make parlay bets through the provincial lotteries ever since. The online sportsbooks run by the lotteries have always looked very similar to the ones in America, with all major sports and markets available – other than single wagers. The only difference with the lottery-ran books was the requirement to take two or more wagers per bet rather than a single bet, which was originally required in order to reduce the chances of match-fixing. Ever since the passage of C-218, most of the provincial lotteries have added single-game sports betting to their preexisting platforms.
Casinos and horse racing
Canada is no stranger to casino gambling. Casinos dot the country and each province has its own lottery program. Prior to legalized casino gambling coming to New York and Michigan, residents of those two states flocked across the border to Niagara Falls and Windsor, respectively, to place bets at the cities’ large casinos.
Horse racing is also popular in Canada, with several tracks doubling as racinos. The horse racing industry strongly opposed legalizing single-game wagering because of its potential impact on revenues. If people are betting on sports, they may not be as interested in betting on horses. Horse racing was exempted from C-218, meaning that state lottery commissions will not offer horse racing as a wagering option. This was great news for the industry, as it allowed the private horse racetracks to continue to host races and offer wagering at tracks across Canada. After being exempted from the bill, the industry quickly dropped its opposition and supported its final passage.
The five provincial lottery commissions administer various lottery games along with online casinos and other gaming options throughout Canada. Canadians can play lottery games either online or in-person at retail locations such as convenience stores.
Offshore and gray market sportsbooks
While Canadians were previously able to place wagers on offshore and gray market sites, the legality of doing so was rather murky. Betting on sports was never legal outside of the provincial lotteries, but it technically wasn’t explicitly illegal either. As such, Canadians have never been prosecuted for using offshore sportsbooks and the sportsbooks themselves have never been subject to investigation or prosecution of any kind. This led to various European, Caribbean, and Central American sites welcoming Canadian bettors over the years, glomming all sorts of business from potential legal operators. Following the changes from C-218, Canada can now keep this revenue in the country while overseeing all operations, ensuring its players get the most enjoyable and fair experience possible.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission
The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) is a wild-card in Canada’s sports betting regulatory structure. The KGC is a tribal entity that issues licenses to gaming operators wanting be licensed by an independent regulatory body. The regulated operators are not necessarily based in Canada. This mostly relates to online casinos, but the KGC does license several sportsbooks, including Sports Interaction. Entities that are licensed by the KGC are required to locate their servers on Kahnawake tribal land and must process all transactions using those servers.
Canada’s federal government does not have jurisdiction over the KGC, so the tribe is free to license entities as it wishes. However, the federal government also doesn’t recognize the KGC as a legitimate regulatory authority. The KGC exists in a legal grey area. The government has pretty much left them alone, but they still lack any true regulatory powers in Canada outside of their own tribal land. The sportsbooks that it authorizes continue to operate in Canada under their KGC licenses, but they aren’t officially licensed by provincial governments or the federal government.
In an effort to create additional regulatory legitimacy for itself, in 2016 the KGC came to an agreement with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement spelling out that the KGC would not provide licenses to gaming entities who accept customers from the USA. This would prohibit offshore sportsbooks from seeking licenses from KGC as a back-door entry to the American market. As a result, books that use the Kahnawake Gaming Commission are not legal in the United States.
By licensing various casinos and sportsbooks, the KGC generates a great deal of revenue for the Mohawk community of Kahnawake. The KGC was heavily opposed to any attempts to legalize single-game betting due to their fear of being cut out of the picture if provinces decided to regulate and license sportsbooks. This proved to be a legitimate concern for the tribes, because C-218 did not legalize Canada sports betting at the federal level; rather, it amended the criminal code to authorize provinces or an entity licensed by a province to manage a lottery scheme “on a single sport event or athletic contest.” Thus far, no provinces that have legalized single-game wagering have recognized the KGC as a dual regulatory authority and we do not expect this to change anytime soon.
Sports in Canada
There are more than 37 million people in Canada, a remarkable 90 percent of whom live within 100 miles of the US border. American broadcast channels are available in most Canadian cities on cable and all major American sporting events are broadcast in Canada, including college football and basketball. Yes, Canadians fill out March Madness brackets just like Americans. The equivalent of ESPN in the country is TSN, and SportsCenter is called SportsCentre. Let’s go over which teams are most popular in Canada, as they will all be popular betting targets now that single-game wagering is legal and live:
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Montreal Canadiens
- Ottawa Senators
- Winnipeg Jets
- Edmonton Oilers
- Calgary Flames
- Vancouver Canucks
There are 7 NHL teams in Canada, and they are clearly the most popular professional teams in the country. The Toronto Maple Leafs are the Yankees of Canada, but without the recent championships. They are far and away the most popular team in the country but haven’t won a playoff series since 2004. The other Canadian teams have had more recent playoff success, but no Canadian team has won the Stanley Cup since the Montreal Canadiens hoisted the trophy in 1993.
- Toronto Raptors
The NBA has been in Canada since 1995, when the Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies joined the league as expansion teams. The Grizzlies ended up relocating to Memphis, but the Raptors have been a hugely successful franchise, even winning the NBA Championship in 2019. The Raptors are very popular throughout Canada, with every game broadcast nationwide.
- Toronto Blue Jays
Major League Baseball has had a team in Canada since 1969. You probably remember the Montreal Expos, the beleaguered franchise once owned by MLB before eventually moving to Washington in 2005 to become the Nationals. What you may not remember is that the Expos began playing in Montreal in 1969 as a National League team, 8 years before the Blue Jays joined the American League in 1977. Of course, the Expos are gone, but the Blue Jays are still going strong.
- BC Lions
- Calgary Stampeders
- Edmonton Elks (nee Eskimos)
- Saskatchewan Roughriders
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Toronto Argonauts
- Montreal Alouettes
- Ottawa RedBlacks
The CFL has been around since 1958, which actually pre-dates the NFL. With its wider fields, bigger end zones, and 3 downs instead of 4, the CFL is a uniquely Canadian institution. The NFL may be king, but Canadians are generally fans of both types of football. This benefits them greatly, because the CFL traditionally starts in June, thereby adding three extra months to their football calendar.
The Canadian Open has been played since 1904, making it one of the oldest golf tournaments in the world. Its current iteration, the RBC Canadian Open, is a popular yearly stop on the PGA Tour, attracting top golfers from around the world. Additionally, the PGA Tour owns and manages a mini-tour in Canada known as the Mackenzie Tour. Top finishers on the Mackenzie Tour can earn entry into the Korn Ferry Tour, which is one step below the PGA Tour.
Is single-game wagering available in Canada?
Yes, single-game wagering went live across Canada on August 27, 2021. Bettors residing in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, and Nova Scotia can now legally place single-event sports bets online!
Will I be able to bet with one of the big American operators like DraftKings or BetMGM?
If you’re located in Ontario, absolutely! Both DraftKings and BetMGM, among many other popular American operators, are currently live and accepting action in Ontario. It remains to be seen if the rest of Canada’s provinces and territories will adapt a similar system.
Will I be able to bet on sports in person at a casino in Canada?
Yes, most provinces will offer both online and in-person sports betting options to their players. Quebec, for example, offers Mise-o-jeu+ for online wagers, while locals can also place their action at any casinos featuring a Mise-o-jeu window.
What is the legal age for online sports betting in Canada?
Each province has its own rules related to online betting. In Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, the minimum age to gamble is 18. In the other seven provinces (British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan) the legal age to gamble is 19.
What banking options will likely be available?
We don’t know exactly which banking options will be available just yet, but here are the most common deposit and withdrawal options available to bettors in the United States, along with some uniquely Canadian options:
- American Express
- Interac Online
- Online bill payment
- ACH eCheck
- Play+ branded prepaid card