The moment that many sports bettors have been waiting for is arriving a few days. On Friday, August 27, Canada’s single-event sports betting law is going into effect. That’s when Canada’s provinces will be able to launch single-event sports betting. Each province will shape what single-event sports betting looks like in its own areas of governance. The lottery-run sportsbooks in each province will be able to offer single-event sports betting on August 27. Ontario and British Columbia will be the biggest sports betting markets to do so.
However, Canada’s new sports betting law doesn’t mean that commercial sportsbooks can flood the Canadian provinces. Each province will write its own regulations to govern commercial sports betting. Ontario is the first and will launch commercial sports betting at the beginning of 2022. That means sportsbooks like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM won’t come to Ontario until after the New Year.
Other provinces, like British Columbia, are planning on updating their lottery-run sportsbooks on August 27. But they aren’t going to rewrite their igaming regulations yet. Ontario is the only province that has released a draft of sports betting regulations. It’ll be the model for the other provinces. So, British Columbia likely won’t have commercial sportsbooks until well into 2022.
Small Changes And Smaller Bonuses
For all the hype built around Bill C-218 over the last year and a half, little will change the day it goes into effect. The largest lottery-run sportsbooks in Canada will offer single-event wagers. That will improve their competitiveness and recapture revenue from the gray and black markets. However, two lottery-run sportsbooks are also offering small welcome bonuses for new bettors.
Ontario’s lottery-run sportsbook, PROLINE+, will offer bettors a $50 no-deposit bonus. British Columbia’s lottery-run sportsbook, PlayNow, is offering new bettors a $20 deposit match for bettors who deposit at least $20 on their first deposits. These are small bonuses, which is characteristic of government-run sportsbooks. (Oregon’s lottery-run sportsbook offers a $50 deposit bonus, which is high by government standards but adorable by commercial standards.) These two Canadian sportsbooks are the most modernized and the most prepared to attract new bettors when the most popular types of wagers finally become legal.
Large Long-Term Changes
Once commercial sportsbooks can compete in Canada the way they do in the United States, Canada will become one of the largest sports betting markets in the world. However, those exciting developments are months and years away. Those changes will arrive slowly in each province, beginning with Ontario.
Ontario is the first province to unveil a draft of sports betting regulations. So, it’ll be the first to license commercial sportsbooks. Lottery-run PROLINE+ will maintain its monopoly for a few months before commercial sportsbooks are ready to be licensed. But after that, Canadian bettors will flock to the commercial sportsbooks. Government sportsbooks tend to have lower odds for bettors since the profitability goal is so important. However, the tax revenue from commercial sportsbooks will make up for any cannibalization of Ontario’s lottery-run sportsbook.
After Ontario launches sports betting, all eyes will likely fall on British Columbia. It’s the next major sports betting market that’s expected to be targeted by commercial sportsbooks. Since it’s aware of the attention, British Columbia will likely be one of the first provinces after Ontario to rewrite its igaming regulations to accommodate commercial sports betting.
The other provinces are more of a mystery. They may update their lottery-run sportsbooks quickly after Bill C-218 goes into effect. But despite announcing interest in single-event wagering, the other provinces haven’t provided concrete plans with the level of detail that Ontario has. Some provinces may not be economically viable for sportsbooks. Sparse populations and rural settings don’t lend themselves to thriving sports betting markets. But at the very least, all the provinces will update their lottery-run sportsbooks and bring them into the 21st century.
It All Begins With Ontario
Avid sports bettors will have an exciting Friday. When single-event sports betting goes live in Ontario, British Columbia, and the other provinces, bettors will have a safe, licensed, and regulated sports betting option. The Canadian government will begin to recapture the revenue lost to the gray market of sportsbooks operating just outside the law. However, the transition will be slow. Bettors will have their favorite sportsbooks, and they won’t leave overnight. Especially when there’s only one option on the market.
But after commercial sportsbooks launch in Ontario, new bettors will likely try sports betting. The mainstream appeal of sports betting will make it feel safer and more approachable to newbies. The customer base will grow, pumping money into the provinces that they’d been missing out on for decades.
It’ll be a long, slow march toward this goal. Ontario won’t license commercial sportsbooks until 2022. From there, it’ll take months for the commercial sportsbooks to build their customer bases in Ontario and for the revenue amounts to become significant. And that’s all before trying to forecast the regulatory timeline for British Columbia, Alberta, and other provinces that might harbor attractive sports betting markets.
When Bill C-218 goes into effect, the foundation for globally competitive sports betting in Canada will be laid.