Single-Game Betting vs Parlays

Canada has had legalized sports betting since 1985 when provinces were given authority to operate certain forms of gambling. In sports betting, that legal form was parlay betting.

Single-game betting, however, has remained illegal. At least until 2021, that is, when bills C-218 and C-13 set out to change all that.

The bills are nearly identical, but both essentially allow for single-game sports betting to become legal. Needless to say, that’s a big deal for casual and avid sports bettors alike.

Why is single-game betting in Canada such a big deal when parlay bets are already available? We’ll explain below.

What is single game betting?

Just as the name implies, single game betting allows for:

  • Betting on the outcome of a single game or event
  • Betting on events within a single game or event

Among others, single game betting allows for:

If you’ve done any kind of sports betting at all, you’ll understand those are the “heart and soul” of sports betting, and without them, the average bettor is at a massive disadvantage when it comes to the true odds.

With single-game betting:

  • You increase your chances of winning versus being restricted to only parlays
  • You can manage your budget/bankroll much easier
  • Your game handicapping and team/player research is far more effective

The easiest way to participate in single-game betting is via an online sportsbook or sportsbook app downloaded to your phone. Just make sure you’re using one that is licensed and legal in Canada, which you can find listed on any of our pages.

What is parlay betting?

Sportsbooks available to Canadian sports bettors in the past only offered the option to bet via what are called “parlays.” If you’re new to the hobby, you’re probably wondering just what a parlay is. The easiest definition is that a parlay is a selection of two or more picks, up to 20 usually, that are all included on a single ticket or bet. If every pick ends up being right, then the ticket wins and your payout is likely going to be fairly big. One loss in any of the bets on the ticket, however, and the entire ticket is a loser.

In other words, if you pick 5 out of 6 games correctly but still miss one of the games, YOU WILL NOT BE PAID ANYTHING. All of your 5 correct picks are for naught.

The more picks you put on a parlay, the less likely you are to win. That’s just simple math. Your odds of getting a payout decrease with every new selection, all while your potential payout grows with each pick. It’s a Catch-22 that is tempting, but also almost always a longshot.

That doesn’t mean you can’t win with a parlay sports bet. Bettors do it all the time. The right amount of research and handicapping can lead to some really solid choices on your bet slip. It’s important to remember that each sportsbook posts its odds for parlays. If you’re interested in trying your hand at making a few bets, then we recommend you do some hunting to find the odds that give you the best return on your initial stake.

Parlays have grown beyond typical sports betting in various provinces. Most of the provincial sports betting lotteries require to parlay wagers and, depending on which lottery you’re playing, you will have a minimum number of selections for a valid bet — usually two or three. The maximum can vary as well.

The Ontario provincial lottery, for instance, has a 3-6 selection requirement for sports bets. In the Atlantic provinces, the requirement is 2-8 picks.

Why single-game betting changes everything

With the introduction of legal single-game betting to Canada, the entire sports betting hobby took a step into a whole new world. Immediately the massive risk/reward of parlays became simply an option in the much larger menu of available wagers.

Bettors ranging from amateur hobbyists to professional sharps are now able to more effectively create sports betting strategies, use a wider variety of sportsbooks and develop more sustainable bankroll management plans.  But how else does the legalization of single-game betting change the face of the industry in Canada?

First and foremost, those who bet on sports can create a much more precise and practical experience out of it. Instead of only being allowed to bet on parlays, Canadian bettors now have similar betting options at home to those in the United States, where legal and regulated sportsbooks have operated for the past few years. That divide has led many Canadian sports bettors to head across the border to make their bets, shrinking a critical revenue stream for provincial governments.

Single-game betting opens up every bet type to Canadians, ranging from moneylines to prop bets to totals wagers and point spreads. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Those bet types, among the many others, allow bettors to be more invested in events and games, and the provinces will benefit, too. It is expected that the Canadian market could bring in $28 billion in wagers within five years for sportsbooks that will create revenue for Canada. The multitude of markets that are available for single-game betting is expected to open up Canada to a massive surge in growth for the hobby. With private sportsbooks clamouring to offer their services to Canadians, provincial sportsbooks have no choice but to come in and offer up full markets to stay competitive.

That’s great for bettors. The more variety available, the better odds to be found not to mention the additional bonuses and promotions that will be proffered as sportsbooks compete for new customers.

How will single-game betting be implemented across Canada?

As more and more states in the US legalize sports betting, and start raking in tax revenue from the industry, the more and more likely it has become that Canada would go the same route. Revenue, without taxing citizens, is hard to come by. Sports betting offers an alternative to that which is proving extremely successful in the United States.

New single-game betting laws allow each province to form and regulate gambling within its borders. With each province and territory able to decide how they want to move forward, the rollout of the new laws will likely be staggered as it has been following the United States Supreme Court’s decision to allow each state the same right.

Ontario will lead the charge, according to most experts, with a full and robust offering of private sportsbooks expected alongside any ON provincially run sportsbooks.

As for the other provinces, none have been as vocal as Ontario in terms of what their plans are at this point but rest assured, when the tax dollars start flowing in, they’ll all be very quick to jump on board.

Can I still make parlay bets?

Parlay bets are a popular part of the sports betting landscape, and they will continue to remain available in pretty much every legal and regulated sportsbook you come across. The question you have to ask yourself is if you want to continue making parlay bets.

As we mentioned before, parlay bets do indeed have a nice payout when they hit, and the more selections you add to a single slip, the more money you’ll get paid if they all hit. But, you need to remember that every selection also increases the chances that you’re going to lose. Parlays offer amazing payouts for a reason — they are notoriously difficult to hit. While they can be fun, and exciting, they can also be costly.

So to answer the question: Yes, you can still wager on parlays. But with so many new betting options, you’re likely to find much better spots to bet without them.

Which sports are most affected by single-game betting?

Every sport will be impacted by the change from parlay-only to single-game betting in Canada. Those that will see the biggest increases in action are the sports that are inherently difficult to research for daily outcomes, such as MLB betting, NHL betting, or NBA betting. Betting parlays is much harder than single-game wagers for any sport, though. Single-game betting also makes it a lot easier to keep your betting budget under control and to recover from smaller losses. Sure, the payouts aren’t as grand when you win, but the risks with each bet are much smaller as well.

There’s going to be an upsurge in betting for all markets. That’s just going to be natural when a new bet type becomes available and especially when there are so many thanks to an entirely new way of sports betting being introduced.

Where can I make single-game bets in Canada?

The easiest and most convenient way to start sports betting is to use a legal and regulated online sportsbook. These are easy to find, easy to use, and have great customer service to back up the apps and websites. We keep a list of the most current sportsbooks that are available to Canadian bettors, and it is updated regularly so you know you’ll always be getting the most up-to-date content when you are visiting our pages.

Most sportsbooks offer a signup bonus or free bets for new users. Just click on the name of the sportsbook you’d like to access and you will be taken directly to their page. In some cases, the sportsbooks ask for promo codes to activate bonuses such as deposit matching, deposit bonuses, and sometimes even free bets. You’ll find those codes available on this site as well.

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