With the continuing boom of sports betting in the United States, many people are wondering where Canada stands. The US Supreme Court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018, and since then, multiple states have legalized sports betting. Essentially, the individual states can legislate how they would like to see sports betting operate inside their borders. Canada has the luxury of seeing how sports betting is legislated in the US to make its decisions on legalization.
Sports betting is legal in some capacity in Canada, but recent moves have suggested single-game wagering could be legalized at some point in the near future, which could benefit bettors in the country in several ways.
Currently, folks looking to bet in Canada might open betting accounts with offshore sportsbooks or go through a local bookie. Neither option is all that ideal for bettors, given that there is no legal consequence if an offshore sportsbook or bookie does not pay out a winning bet. With sports betting legalized and regulated, there would be a close eye on how legal sportsbooks are operating.
This page will take a look at the current status of legal sports betting in Canada, some of the most popular sports to wager on and the future of the industry moving forward.
Is sports betting legal in Canada?
There are indeed ways to legally bet on sports in Canada right now. However, the current law does limit the options of what you can bet on. At the moment, only parlay betting is allowed through provincial lotteries. A parlay is when you bet on multiple outcomes, and each one of the wagers must be correct for the overall parlay to win.
With this being the only option, many Canadian sports fans are going elsewhere to place bets, such as offshore sites, even though that’s not the safest route to go with their money. However, single-game wagering could be on the way in Canada.
Possible changes coming to sports betting in Canada
In early 2020, Canadian politician Kevin Waugh introduced a bill to allow single-game wagering in Canada. The bill was picked up as government legislation later that year.
In early 2021, Bill C-218 passed the Canadian House of Commons by a 303-15 vote. The bill will likely receive a final round of hearings through the Justice Committee. Because this is a private member’s bill, it remains possible that it won’t go through, but there is a second bill called C-13, which is a government bill. Both are similar in that if passed, single-game wagers will be legal in Canada.
With two bills in play, it appears more and more likely that sports betting will increase its traction in Canada. When that may happen remains unclear, but it could happen fairly quickly.
Online sports betting in Canada
Not all provinces in Canada offer legal online sports betting, but six of them do: British Columbia, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Quebec. The only legal form of sports betting in these provinces is parlay betting, and online betting will be crucial to the success of the industry if Canada legalizes single-game wagering.
Online sportsbook apps in Canada would allow for people to bet on the go, depending on legality, and would help legal sportsbooks compete with offshore betting sites, which already offer mobile betting. The goal would be to persuade new and existing sports bettors to use the legal forms of betting, and offering online sports wagering would help to do that.
Sports betting in Ontario
If you’re looking for the likely leader in sports betting in Canada, look no further than Ontario to be the province that will have the biggest influence in sports betting. Ontario has the largest population of any other province, and its proximity to professional sports teams will help, as well.
Ontario has a population of more than 14 million people, which would make it the fifth most populous state in the US, behind New York and ahead of Pennsylvania. Its capital of Toronto is home to the Toronto Blue Jays of MLB, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL. In addition, Canada’s capital city of Ottawa is located in Ontario and is home to the Ottawa Senators NHL team.
You may have noticed Ontario was not listed among the six provinces that currently allow online sports betting. The province legalizing online betting would go a long way toward it being successful in Canada.
Another thing to remember is that Ontario borders Michigan in the United States. Sports wagering is legal in Michigan, so allowing sports betting in Canada and especially Ontario would give bettors less of a reason to cross the border to place bets in Michigan.
Canadian sports betting market size
According to the Canadian Gaming Association, of the $14.5 billion bet on sports in the country, only $500 million of that is coming from legal sports wagering. That is a ton of money that is leaving Canada and likely never coming back.
It’s increasingly a topic of conversation in Canadian media, driven at least in part by the success sports betting is seeing in several US states that have legalized the activity.
Popular sports to bet on in Canada
Another reason Canadians may want to get into sports betting is because there are so many professional and amateur sports leagues they care about. Whether it’s more of a money-making investment or simply a way to entertain themselves, many Canadians want to place wagers on their favorite teams. Here is a look at some of the most popular sports in the country.
- NHL: Seven teams that compete in the NHL are based in Canada: the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets.
- NFL: Professional football is the most popular sport in the US, but many Canadians also follow the league.
- CFL: The Canadian Football League gets quite a bit of interest from local sports fans, as well. It’s a much smaller league than the NFL, but there are many passionate fans across the sport who may want to bet on their favorite teams.
- MLB: Major League Baseball has just one team in Canada — Toronto Blue Jays — and the fact that the entire country has one team it can rally around could make for plenty of interest in the MLB betting market.
- NBA: Similar to MLB, the National Basketball Association has one Canadian team for NBA betting, the Toronto Raptors.
- Soccer: As a massively global sport, soccer betting is big business with a variety of leagues available for wagering. There are soccer betting options from the smallest of leagues to the World Cup.
- College football: College football betting doesn’t receive the number of bets that the NFL does each week, but football remains a popular sport, no matter who is playing.
- College basketball: One of the most popular events to bet on in the entire sporting calendar is the NCAA Basketball Tournament, also known as March Madness.
Retail sportsbooks in Canada
Canada has more than 100 physical casinos across the country, and some will have sportsbooks. As mentioned earlier with the importance of including Ontario in Canadian sports betting, that province has the most casinos in the entire country. In addition, some of them feature horse racing.
TheScore Bet is headquartered in Toronto, and it would see a significant boost in business if and when Canada legalizes single-game wagering in the country. In addition, Canada could include other major sportsbooks like DraftKings and FanDuel, which are popular in the United States. Both would likely be major players in Canadian sports betting as they look to attract more and more customers to their platforms.
Sportsbook bonuses in Canada
There are a number of perks for US bettors now that sports betting is fully legal in parts of the country. Many legal sportsbooks will offer promotions to either attract new bettors or keep their existing users happy.
These promotions come in many forms, and it’s a rare win-win for the sportsbook and for the sports bettor. The idea for the sportsbook is it is taking a short-term loss in hopes that you will become a long-time customer. Meanwhile, it’s essentially free money for you to use at the book.
In the United States, competition is fierce for new users, with the industry growing at a rapid rate, so sportsbooks are putting out better and better offers to attract a new audience to use their apps. With so much competition to satisfy the customer, there has never been a better time to be in sports betting in the United States.
If Canada legalizes, here are a few of the bonuses that you might see sports betting sites in Canada offering new and existing users. Before accepting any of these, it’s very important to read the rules and regulations and take any questions you may have to customer support.
- Deposit bonus: You deposit money into the account, and the sportsbook will match that deposit by a set percentage up to a certain amount. You will often have to wager a certain amount to be able to withdraw the bonus money.
- Risk-bonus bet: The sportsbook will provide a refund if your bet loses. Again, this is usually capped at a certain amount, and there may be restrictions on the type of wager that qualifies.
- Reloads: A reload bonus is very similar to the deposit bonus, but it’s for existing customers. You can add some money up to a certain dollar amount, and the sportsbook will match it up to whatever the percentage it is offering.
Canadian sports betting FAQ
What is the most popular betting site?
The most popular betting sites are DraftKings and FanDuel, with perhaps a slight edge to DraftKings. Both figure to be involved in Canadian sports betting when and if the country allows single-game wagering.
Is sports betting legal in Ontario?
Yes. Sports betting is legal in every province or territory in Canada, though single-game wagering is not allowed, so if you want to bet, you must place parlays. What is not legal in Ontario at this point, however, is online sports betting. Bringing online sports betting to the country’s most populous province would be key for sports betting’s success in Canada, if and when it allows single-game wagers.
Can I use FanDuel Sportsbook in Canada?
No. FanDuel Sportsbook is not available in Canada. Daily fantasy sports sites like FanDuel and DraftKings are allowed, but people inside the country are not yet legally allowed to place sports bets on either of those sportsbook platforms.