Canada Sports Betting Laws

Bill C-218 gave Canada’s provinces the chance to modernize their sports betting laws. As of August 27, 2021, single-event sports betting is legal across Canada. However, the rules and specifications for the revamped industry will be written by each provincial government. Government-run sportsbooks will be the first legal sports betting option. However, the largest provinces are writing regulations to govern private sportsbook operators.

Before Bill C-218’s passage, only parlay wagers were allowed. That limited bettors’ sports betting options and pushed bettors toward the gray and black markets. Here’s what Canada’s updated sports betting laws mean for sportsbooks and their bettors. 

What Sports Betting Activities Are Legal In Canada?

Now, all types of single-event wagers are legalized, including moneyline bets, totals bets, point spreads, and point totals are available to bet on in isolation. They can be made into parlays if bettors want, but they’ll no longer be forced to. Bettors will also be able to add futures to their bet slips and place others to balance the risk of a futures bet. Allowing the most popular types of wagers will create market conditions conducive to competitive sports betting industries. 

For example, BetMGM has announced its intentions to move into Canada when markets become available. theScore Bet, another online sportsbook operator, is planning to launch its own online app as provinces allow private online sportsbooks. They will likely face fewer restrictions on the events they can place wagers on in Canada. Ontario’s early draft of its sports betting regulations set criteria for eligible events instead of a hard list of eligible events. If other provinces model their regulations after Ontario’s, then sportsbooks will have wide latitude for sportsbooks to decide which events can be bet on. 

Unless some of the provinces are particularly conservative in their sports betting attitudes, Canadian sports betting industries are likely to be permissive and business-friendly without compromising consumer safety.    

Key Aspects Of Bill C-218

Bill C-218 amends another section of existing Canadian law, specifically 207(4)(b) of the Canadian criminal code. This previously prohibited single event or contest. Bill C-218 removes that limitation and allows single-event wagers like moneylines, point spreads, and over/unders. 

However, this bill doesn’t tell the provinces how to implement this law. Similar to PASPA’s repeal in the United States, Bill C-218’s passage allows the provinces to regulate single-event sports betting. The provinces have different minimum ages for participants, and they organize their lottery companies differently. So, any further details about Canadian sports betting will be dependent on individual provinces’ preferences.

For example, some provinces may decide to ban college sports betting or legalize all of them. However, taxes will be a universal deal. Canadian residents don’t need to worry about being taxed on their gambling winnings unless they qualify as professional gamblers. Sports betting will remain an amateur-friendly activity. 

Important Dates For Sports Betting Legalization In Canada

  • 1969 – The Canadian government authorizes the organization of government-run lotteries and various charitable lotteries. This also authorizes sports wagering.
  • 2015 – Two sports betting bills fail to pass the Canadian legislature, so sports betting remains limited to parlay bets until 2021
  • February 25, 2020 – Bill C-218 is introduced in the House of Commons. It’s the first step in the long process of a Canadian bill becoming a law. 
  • June 29, 2021 – Bill C-218 receives the royal assent, which is one of the final steps in Canada’s legislative process. All that’s left is for the bill to go into effect. 
  • August 27, 2021 – Bill C-218 goes into effect in Canada. Many of the provinces’ governments release updated versions of their sportsbooks that allow single-event sports wagering.  

Online Gambling In Canada

Minimum online gambling age18 or 19 depending on the province
What kinds of online gambling are legal in Canada?Online sports betting, online casino games, online poker, and online horse race betting.
When did online gambling become legal in Canada?Online casinos became available to Canadians in the mid to late 1990s and early 2000s. Their legality was questionable and has been evolving ever since.
Who regulates online gambling in Canada?Each province's lottery organization runs an online gaming product. Each province's online gaming product is regulated by a separate organization that regulates all or most of a province's gaming.

Canada Sports Betting Laws FAQs

Is online gambling in Canada safe?

Yes. However, bettors must use licensed online sportsbooks if they want to be safe while they’re betting Canada. Licensed sportsbooks have security standards and public accountability. These are two critical features that gray market operators don’t need to worry about. That makes them dangerous to use. Bettors should stick with the safe government-run options.  

How can I ensure the safety of my personal information at online casinos and sports betting sites in Canada?

Never share personal information, like home addresses or passwords. Bettors should also only use online gambling sites that have SSL certification, which bettors can check by looking for a padlock symbol in the address bar. Finally, bettors should take advantage of the two-factor authentication available on some websites. 

Who operates the online gambling sites in Canada?

Canada’s lottery organizations operate legal online gambling sites. However, a separate organization regulates online gambling. For example, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation operates the province’s online sportsbook, PROLINE+. But the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario regulates online gambling for the province.  

What happens if I have a dispute with online casinos in Canada?

You can contact the lottery organization in charge of gambling in your province and go through the proper customer complaint procedures. If that fails, then you can pursue legal action. However, it’s unlikely that a licensed online gaming operator will cause that many problems. But if they do, bettors have good customer support options through their provinces that they’d lack at an offshore site.  

Who’s in charge of regulating Canada’s online gambling sites?

While Canada’s lottery organizations operate their own online gambling sites, separate regulatory bodies govern the lottery organizations. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation operates PlayNow, but is regulated by the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. 

What is the difference between legal and illegal online gambling sites in Canada?

Legal online gambling sites in Canada are owned and operated by a province’s lottery corporations. They’re licensed and overseen by a regulatory body in that same province. There are no designated illegal online gambling sites based on Canada’s Criminal Code. However, these sites don’t have a license or regulation oversight.

Since government-run sites are still the only legal online gambling options in Canada, telling a legit site from a seedy site is easy. But even when the provinces begin regulating privately owned sportsbook companies, bettors will be able to check which sites are licensed on their province’s lottery or gaming enforcement website. 

About the Author

Christopher Gerlacher

Christopher Gerlacher is a senior author and contributor for many different sports betting websites, sharing his expertise on the subject for readers across the continent. He's a devout Broncos fan, for better or for worse, living in the foothills of Arvada, Colorado.