Legal sports betting in the Great White North? Encouraging signs have emerged that suggest that single-game wagering is on its way to Canada before too long. For decades, sports betting in Canada has been restricted to offerings from the provincial lottery system.
While that has at least been something for Canadian bettors, the offerings are limited to parlay wagers. Legal sports betting will offer many more choices and change the landscape dramatically.
So, what will sports betting look like in Canada? What will be different from how things have worked up to now? Which apps might be on the way? We have the answers to those questions and many more in this complete guide to sports betting in Canada.
Is sports betting legal in Canada?
Yes, a limited form of sports betting has been legal in Canada for several decades. The current options are limited to wagers from the provincial lotteries, all of which are based on parlays for which bettors have to make multiple selections among the contests offered on a game card.
“This enactment repeals paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code to make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the province that involves betting on a race or fight or on a single sport event or athletic contest.”
The rules and regulations would fall to individual provinces to sort out, with Ontario sports betting the biggest market. The most optimistic timeline calls for a launch and rollout prior to the start of the next NFL season or at least before 2021 comes to a close, but that naturally assumes that everything happens smoothly.
Legal online sportsbooks in Canada
Currently, Canadians looking to legally wager on sports have limited options. They can place some parlay-style bets via a provincial lottery or take a trek over the border to a US state that allows sports betting. Legal online sportsbooks will change things significantly.
Bettors will be able to wager on what they want to, have control over the types of bets they place, and be able to bet at levels they are most comfortable with. From big events like the Super Bowl and Stanley Cup down to regular season games, they’ll be in control.
They’ll also be able to do so in a safe environment. Regulated markets have protections in place for users, which is something that is not the case for offshore sites or other illegal means of gambling.
The potential for the Canadian market as a whole is massive, and many of the industry’s top names will want in. Which sportsbooks are the most likely to bring their offerings to Canada? Let’s take a look.
Sports betting apps expected to launch in Canada
There are still questions on exactly how many licenses and skins will be available in Canada, as well as if there will be any province-specific regulations. However, we do know that sportsbooks will be eager to launch in the market. Here are some of the top candidates for setting up shop in Canada.
- DraftKings Sportsbook: DraftKings already offers daily fantasy sports in Canada. Just like it has done in the US, the company can quickly pivot and leverage its reach over to sports betting. DraftKings Sportsbook will also have a built-in pool of potential users to draw from.
- FanDuel Sportsbook: FanDuel is in the same spot as DraftKings, its top rival in DFS and sports betting. Its existing user base provides a leg up, as does the name recognition. FanDuel Sportsbook is among the sports betting leaders in the US.
- BetMGM Sportsbook: BetMGM has been rapidly expanding in the US and has its sights set on additional growth, so a trek across the border seems natural. Operating under the MGM Resorts International umbrella, perhaps a signature destination isn’t so far-fetched.
- William Hill Sportsbook: The UK-based brand has grown tremendously across the US, where it was recently acquired by Caesars Entertainment. The casino giant already has a foothold in Canada via Caesars Windsor, so a sports betting expansion may follow.
- theScore: While theScore hasn’t made much of a dent in the US sports betting market, it could be a different story on its home turf. The Canadian-based company has a built-in media presence that it could leverage once sports betting goes live.
Who supports single-game wagering in Canada?
Support for the legalization of single-game wagering isn’t just limited to the members of Parliament who are working to push it past the goal line. Beyond the fans and sports betting companies that are clamoring for it, several leagues and entities have spoken in favor of passage:
- Rogers Communications
As for the NFL, it’s taken the time to advocate for the use of official game data if sports betting becomes fully legal in Canada. The consent of First Nations partners will be an area to watch, as both the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake and Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation have expressed concerns about their interests being protected.
How each province handles sports betting right now
The provincial lottery system administers the current legal sports betting options for Canadians. It’s broken down into five geographic segments. Here’s a look at the operators and their games, as well as any additional provinces and territories that fall under their authority.
- Atlantic Lottery Corp.: Pro-Line and Stadium Bet Sports (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island)
- British Columbia Lottery Corp.: PlayNow Sports
- Loto-Québec: Mise-o-jeu
- Ontario Lottery and Gaming: Pro-Line
- Western Canada Lottery Corp.: Sportselect (Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan plus Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon)
Users can bet on a variety of sports via the lotteries, including NHL, CFL, NFL, NBA and MLB, but there’s a catch. All of the offerings are based on parlays. In order to play, you have to make two or more choices from the available options and be correct on all of them to win.
Pro-Line vs. online sports betting apps
Pro-Line sports betting has been available in Canada since the early 1990s, initially as a retail-only option before eventually launching online and via app. There are four variations of the games for various sports.
- Pro-Line: Pick three to six outcomes from the listed events with wager amounts ranging from $2 to $100.
- Pools: Pick the winner of all of the events listed on a card, which are available for multiple sports. All wagers are set at $5.
- Point spread: Pick the against-the-spread winner of two to 12 events with wager amounts ranging from $2 to $100.
- Props: Pick three to six props from the available cards, which are available for multiple sports. Wagering amounts range from $2 to $100.
Parlays can be fun, but they’re also tough to win consistently. They’re available at legal sportsbooks such as DraftKings, as well, but bettors will find many other options to choose from. You can wager on single games, choose from the props you’re most interested in, place futures bets and more.
|Legal Online Sportsbooks||What to wager on is in the control of users with clear-cut odds listed for all available options.||Tons of games and events to consider. Odds and lines will constantly move on most popular contests.|
|Pro-Line/other lottery options||Legal form of betting that’s currently available across Canada.||All wagers are parlay-based, so you have to be right on multiple selections to win.|
|Offshore sportsbooks||They’ll take business from virtually anyone without any concern for local laws.||No guarantees that your funds will be safe, and you’re taking unnecessary risks by playing there.|
How to start betting online in Canada
Once legal online sportsbooks go live in Canada, users will be able to get started quickly and easily. You should be able to complete the process right on your computer or mobile device, and it takes just a couple of minutes. Here’s what you need to do.
- Click one of the sportsbook links on this site. This will take you to the main registration page and help you claim any welcome bonuses.
- Follow the prompts and enter the necessary information. It’s all basic stuff like name, address, date of birth, etc.
- Once all your info is in, you’ll check off some boxes, verify that everything is correct, and click submit to create your account.
- The creation process takes a few seconds. Afterward, you’ll have access to the sportsbook.
- If you’ve taken care of the above on your computer, download the app for your device directly from the sportsbook website and log in on mobile.
- Make your first deposit or get ready to use any free bets you’ve received.
- Take a look around and get ready to bet.
It’s a painless process that lets you register quickly, assuming provinces do not require in-person registration. To place bets with online sportsbooks, you need to be within the borders of the legal area. Sportsbooks will verify that with geolocation tracking software. If you’re not within a legal area, you won’t be able to bet.
As for the legal sports betting age, we’ll have to wait for the final word. Across the provinces, it’s currently either 18 or 19 depending on the activity. In the US, some states are at 18, with the majority setting the bar at 21. During the sign-up process, the sportsbook will verify your age. If there’s any trouble in doing so, you’ll need to provide additional documentation.
Futures and prop betting in Canada
Legal sportsbooks aren’t live in Canada just yet, but we can make a reasonable guess on what will be available. The main pregame bets of moneylines, point spreads and totals bets are huge drivers of action, so it’s safe to assume they’ll be on the menu. In addition, several of the other popular ways to wager appear to be a given.
Futures bets are based on outcomes that won’t be decided until a much later date. Odds will become available in the offseason and stay active from there. Top wagering options include the winner of the championships for the major team-based sports:
- Super Bowl
- NBA Finals
- World Series
- Stanley Cup
- College Football Playoff
- March Madness
Other than overall championships, you can bet on things like the winners of individual awards and place over/under bets on regular season win totals for specific teams. Futures extend to individual sports, as well.
Top markets in that area include the winners of golf’s majors (Masters, etc.), tennis Grand Slams (Wimbledon, etc.) and NASCAR’s Daytona 500. There will be odds for all possible choices, and the board will move in response to betting action or news that develops. Futures bets require a long-term view, so be sure to budget wagering amounts accordingly.
For bets with more instant gratification, props are among those that fit the bill. A prop bet is an additional way to wager on games and events. You can find available wagers by clicking on the contest listing. There will be props based on game situations or team performance, as well as a whole slew revolving around the accomplishments of individual players.
- How many total TDs for Aaron Rodgers — over/under 2.5?
- Will Connor McDavid score a goal — yes/no?
- Who will have more total bases in the game — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or J.D. Martinez?
If you’ve ever played season-long or daily fantasy sports, then player props may be a little familiar. For the above examples, these are props with just two choices to make, and you’ll find odds on both sides. There are also props with multiple selections that will have odds for all possible choices, such as the player to score the first goal in an NHL game.
Live betting in Canada
Betting no longer stops when the game starts. Live betting, or in game betting, refers to wagers you can place in real time as the action is playing out. Here are some examples of what you can bet on:
- What will be the result of this Maple Leafs power play — goal/kill?
- Which side will score three runs first — Blue Jays or Yankees?
- Raptors player to have more points in second half — Pascal Siakam or Kyle Lowry?
In addition to various prop-style options, you’ll see updated lines on the outcome based on what’s currently happening, such as via the moneyline, spread or total. Live betting can be a great way to hedge your initial positions if a game breaks differently than you were originally thinking, but you can also wager on a standalone basis.
While live betting isn’t available in Canada just yet, we expect the available wagers to mirror what you’ll find at US-based sportsbooks. Live betting is one of the signature features of sportsbook apps from the industry’s top names. The odds and offerings are constantly updating, but the platforms are up to the task, allowing you to bet while you watch the game.
Popular sports teams to bet on in Canada
Sports are a big deal in Canada, and there are plenty of teams to root for. Home squads play in several of the major North American sports leagues.
- Calgary Flames
- Edmonton Oilers
- Montreal Canadiens
- Ottawa Senators
- Toronto Maple Leafs
- Vancouver Canucks
- Winnipeg Jets
- Toronto Blue Jays
- Toronto Raptors
- CF Montreal
- Toronto FC
- Vancouver Whitecaps
- BC Lions
- Calgary Stampeders
- Edmonton Football Team
- Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Montreal Alouettes
- Ottawa Redblacks
- Saskatchewan Roughriders
- Toronto Argonauts
- Winnipeg Blue Bombers
Canada may not have an NFL team to call its own, but that doesn’t mean that the league isn’t popular there. The lack of a home team means that loyalties are pretty fractured, but a handful of teams top the charts with huge followings in Canada, courtesy of their proximity to the border.
- Buffalo Bills
- Seattle Seahawks
- Green Bay Packers
- Minnesota Vikings
- Detroit Lions
For each of the aforementioned leagues, you’ll have plenty of ways to wager all season long. There will be odds and lines for all games on the docket, and the choice will be yours for which ones you want to bet on.
What’s illegal to bet on in Canada?
If we use the Pro-Line offerings as a baseline, then there will be a range of markets available at online sportsbooks in Canada. Currently, players on Pro-Line have their choice of the following when the sports are in season.
- College football
- College basketball
- North American and European soccer
- Auto racing
All of the above are available at US books, as are top sports such as golf, tennis, and UFC, and a range of niche offerings such as cricket and table tennis. While there are no specifics on exactly what will be available in Canada, a mirroring of the most popular options is expected.
In the US, certain states have restrictions in place for wagering on in-state college teams or on college games and events that take place in that state. If wagering on Canadian colleges and universities is permitted, it’s possible there could be some restrictions in the individual provinces.
Additionally, wagering on high school sports or events involving athletes younger than 18 is a no-no in the US. Since junior league hockey is a popular attraction in Canada, it’ll be interesting to see if the same holds true here.
Where to bet on sports in Canada
If single-game sports betting officially becomes legal in Canada, then it’s safe to assume that retail sportsbooks won’t be too far behind. There are dozens of casinos across the nation, many of which are owned and operated by the government. You’ll also find casinos that are owned by the government and operated by private enterprises, while others fall under the purview of First Nations operators. Here are 10 likely spots for retail sportsbooks in Canada, listed in order by province.
- River Cree Resort Casino — Enoch, AB
- Hard Rock Casino Vancouver — Coquitlam, BC
- Eugene Golf Resort — Cranbrook, BC
- River Rock Casino Resort — Richmond, BC
- Caesars Windsor Hotel & Casino — Windsor, ON
- Casino Niagara — Niagara Falls, ON
- Casino Rama Resort — Orillia, ON
- Elements Casino — Brantford, ON
- Fallsview Casino Resort — Niagara Falls, ON
- Casino de Montreal — Montreal, QC
Beyond the casinos, Canada is also home to several horse racing and harness tracks. Here’s a trio of the larger ones that could make sense for retail sportsbooks.
- Century Downs Racetrack and Casino — Calgary, AB
- Assiniboia Downs — Winnipeg, MB
- Woodbine Racetrack — Toronto, ON
In the US, plans are in the works for sportsbooks at several stadiums and arenas. Could that trend carry over? While there are no guarantees, there are several intriguing possibilities in major metro areas in several provinces. For now, we’ll have to wait and see what develops as we move down the path toward the legalization of single-game betting in Canada.