After a long wait, Canadians can legally bet on a single sporting event.
Bill C-218, which passed the Senate on June 22, allows provinces to allow wagering on single games. Today, a little more than 2-months later, the legislation takes effect. Provinces can now conduct and manage expanded sports betting offerings within their borders.
“I am pleased to announce that single-event sport betting will be legal in Canada on August 27th,” said Lametti.
“Canadians will have the opportunity to participate in single-event sport betting in a regulated and safe environment, at the discretion of the provinces and territories. The Government of Canada will continue discussions on the future of gaming, collaboratively with provincial and Indigenous partners.”
End of the road
It’s been a long time with multiple false starts to get to this point.
The move to legalize single-event sports betting in Canada started nearly a decade ago in 2012. At that time, Bill C-290 died on the Senate order papers when the government called an election in 2015.
Another attempt in 2016—Bill C-221—met with opposition from the governing Liberals. At second reading, it was handily defeated.
This time around, Bill C-218 made out better.
Introduced by Conservative Member of Parliament Kevin Waugh in February 2020, 218’s passing was less than sure. Credit goes to Waugh and Senator David Wells, the bill’s Senate sponsor, for guiding it through before the Liberals called the election.
With the change now in effect, we will start to see the impact on Canada’s sports betting market. PlayCanada projects sports betting could net between 1.5 and CA$2 billion in revenue annually in only a few short years. And the corresponding tax windfall could bring in as much as CA$400 million for the provinces.
What to expect when you’re betting
The way single-event wagering will roll out in your neck of the woods depends on where you live.
Much like it’s rolled out in the US since being legalized in 2018, sports betting in Canada is a patchwork.
With each province able to run lotteries and betting as they see fit, we’re going to see sports betting in action in various ways. One thing is for sure, though. Canada’s lotteries have an advantage out of the gate.
Single-event sports picks are available as of today on many provincial gambling platforms. Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) is launching Proline+, its new and improved sports betting app. British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) and Loto-Québec also have single-event wagers available on their PlayNow and Mise-o-jeu websites. Manitoba, piggybacking off BCLC’s tech, is another province getting in on the action early.
While the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission has stated Albertans are ready for single-event sports betting, so far no date has been set for the provincial launch.
In Saskatchewan, the provincial government passed control of sports betting to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA). SIGA, which also operates seven casinos, represents 74 tribal nations within the province. But, so far, no date has been given by SIGA for when single-event bets will be available for play.
Likewise, in Atlantic Canada, there’s no date for single wagers to make their appearance. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation’s (ALC) previous CEO had said they’d be ready when the time came before he stepped down in early 2021. But, since ALC’s interim chief executive took over, not much more has been said.
The bread and butter
When it comes to sports betting in Canada, Ontario is the province to watch.
The only province (so far) to decide to open its sports betting market to outside competition, Ontario, is attracting the attention of major players.
Well-known sportsbooks like DraftKings, BetMGM, and PointsBet are just a few with Ontario in their sights. And then there’s theScore Bet, the Canadian-born betting platform from Score Media and Gaming (theScore). Basically, theScore is Canadian sports media royalty, and their brand recognition surely won’t do any harm.
While the launch of Ontario’s open market is still a few months away, there’s still lots to keep our attention. In the meantime, we get to see how things unfold for the provincial lotteries jumping in with both feet.