As of today (27 August 2021) single-event sports betting is officially legal in Canada.
This comes after Bill C-218, which decriminalised single-event sports wagering passed into law last month.
Single-event sports wagering is now legal in Canada
Bill C-218, also known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, legalised single-event sports betting in Canada by repealing paragraph 207(4)(b) of Canada’s Criminal Code to permit single-event sports betting.
Up until now, sports betting in Canada was only legal via parlay wagering, this meant that it was illegal to place a wager on an individual event.
The bill was passed into law after it received Royal Assent in June.
Earlier this month, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti confirmed that sports betting would go live on 27 August 2021.
The delay between the passage of the bill and the date it came into effect created an opportunity for more sports betting options to prepare for launch.
It is important to note that the bill makes it possible for each Canadian province to regulate sports betting instead of legalising the activity nationwide.
Provincial lotteries to launch sports betting
Now that the bill has come into effect, several provincial lotteries will begin to expand their sports betting product offering, paving the way for the first legal single-event sports wagers in Canada.
Yesterday, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) confirmed it would launch sports betting on its PlayNow.com platform.
Through the BCLC, bettors will now be able to palace single-event bets on professional sports. The BCLC has promised to prioritise player health through its responsible gambling safeguards present on PlayNow.com.
Lynda Cavanaugh, BCLC’s Interim President, and CEO: “This is a landmark moment for BCLC and our players. We’re excited to enhance our offerings on PlayNow.com, the only gambling website operating in B.C. where revenue goes back to British Columbians by supporting provincial initiatives like healthcare, education, and community programs.”
Several other provincial lotteries are expected to launch sports betting today or within the coming days.
The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC) previously announced it would begin offering single-event betting from today. The OLGC will launch its ProLine+ product today.
The provinces of Quebec and Manitoba are also expected to launch single-event betting products in the coming days.
The road to single-event betting in Canada
The journey towards legalising single-event sports wagering in Canada began more than a decade ago, however, the most recent effort only started last year.
In February 2020, House of Commons MP Kevin Waugh introduced bill C-218 to the legislature. Then in November, the bill was picked up by the Canadian government.
After several readings and debates, the bill cleared the Senate and received Royal Assent in June 2022.
All eyes on Ontario
Ontario’s regulator is hoping to launch an open sports betting market towards the end of 2021. Provincial regulators hope to have an open online gambling market ready for December.
Last month, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released a set of draft sports betting regulations. The public comment period on these closed last week.
The guidelines for sports betting applications are not yet available, but the guidelines for online gambling applications are available
Ontario is one of the most anticipated markets for sports betting in Canada due to its population size and its desire to offer a consumer market. Compared to the US, Ontario would be the fifth-largest state by population size and as a result, several commercial operators already have their sights set on the market.
Other provinces including Alberta and Saskatchewan are in the process of setting up open sports betting markets.