Single Sports Betting Opens in Canada, but Questions Remain


Single-game sports betting is now available in Canada after a decade-long fight to legalize this type of betting. The first wagers were placed on Friday in a handful of provinces and other parts of Canada will join the rush later in the year. 

Bill C-218 was officially passed back in June and that changed the criminal code to allow for single-game wagering to be offered. Canada bettors previously were able to bet on sports, but they had to do so by filling out parlay cards.

The sports betting scene in Canada has officially changed, but it still will resemble the structure that was previously in place. Bettors aren’t going to see sites such as DraftKings or FanDuel offering sports betting, and that could still create some major restrictions. 

The United States sports betting industry has taken off because there is so much competition between sportsbooks. Bettors are able to shop around for the best betting odds and lines, btu that is not going to be the case when it comes to Canada.

Professional sports in the United States helped push the legislation that changed the criminal code, but they were also hoping for a market similar to the US. That is not the case as of now, and it’s unclear when Canada will make those changes. 

Not Available in All Areas

Similar to the United States, sports betting in Canada is limited to only certain parts of the country. Every province will have the ability to offer sports betting, but that doesn’t mean that they all plan to do so right away.

British Columbia and Quebec are two provinces that were ready to offer sports betting on Friday, and they have been making adjustments to the current system of offering parlay cards. This is going to be a work in progress, and improving the technology will be a major challenge for most lottery corporations. 

Government Acting as a Bookie

Since all of the betting is currently being offered by provincial lotteries, the Canadian government will continue to act as a bookie. This presents some major challenges and issues for both sides, and could lead to some big problems.

The lottery corporations do not have a sports betting background, and they are not familiar with setting betting odds and lines. Most leagues in the United States also restrict information when it comes to live betting options, and that is something that these lotteries won’t have access to. 

Illegal Sportsbooks Will Remain

Since Canada is not yet willing to offer licenses to sports betting operators, there is still going to be a major issue when it comes to illegal gambling. Bettors in Canada are already utilizing offshore betting sites to place bets on sporting events, and that is going to continue to be the case. 

When legalizing single-game sports betting in Canada, the government did not that offshore sportsbooks would eventually be able to apply for a license. That is not the case in the United States, but it could still be a long time before this becomes an option for those sites.