For decades, the only legal sports betting option in Ontario has been the parlay-style games offered by the provincial lottery system. That’s about to change. Single-game wagering is just about officially legalized in Canada, so the massive potential of the Ontario sports betting market is about to be realized.
What will sports betting look like in ON?
The Canadian Parliament passed a bill that ended the federal ban on single-game sports betting in June 2021. The ball is now in the court of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to announce an effective date when things can move forward. In terms of market size, Ontario is the fifth-largest in all of North America, so anticipation has continued to build. Provincial governments will be able to set their own rules, and some may simply expand their existing offerings to include single-game wagering.
Ontario is expected to work toward having an open market, but it may not be ready to do so right out of the gate. Operators such as DraftKings Sportsbook, PointsBet Sportsbook, BetMGM Sportsbook, and theScore already have their sights set on entering the fray.
Some estimates have pegged the potential for a fully functioning legal Canadian sports betting market at over $5 billion in annual gross gaming revenue. It’s estimated that Ontario would account for a sizable chunk of that to the tune of nearly 40%.
Assuming there are no additional hang-ups, legal single-game wagering will be available in Ontario soon. There should be retail sportsbooks coming to existing casino properties, as well as online and mobile options for customers to explore.
How soon will sports betting be legalized in Ontario?
There has been plenty of chatter about actually legalizing single-game wagering in Canada for several years, but the effort really began to pick up steam in 2020. Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, was first introduced that February.
In April 2021, the bill was passed out of the House of Commons following its third reading. The Senate overwhelmingly voted in favor in June by a margin of 57-20. Just a few days later, the bill received what’s known as royal assent, which is the last step prior to it becoming an official act.
From this point, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is tasked with setting an effective date. Exactly when that will happen is unclear, but the expectation is that things will move quickly. Opinions on exactly when legal single-game wagering will be officially unveiled have varied.
On the most optimistic timelines, there has been support for a rollout in time for the start of the 2021-22 NFL season. Others have tapped the brakes and suggested that we may not see an official unveiling until late 2021 or early 2022.
Assuming Trudeau acts quickly, there has been plenty of support across the provinces, and from the major North American sports leagues and sportsbook operators, for the launch of legal single-game wafering to be accelerated.
Projected launch date for sports betting in Ontario
The provincial lottery operators in some Canadian provinces could move quickly and unveil options for consumers soon after the effective date is announced. For Ontario, the goal is to have an open market, so it could take some time for a full-scale launch. The actual unveiling could take place as soon as the upcoming NFL season, but it could also be delayed until closer to the new year.