New Sports Betting Bill in Canada Changes Everything

By Ioana Nuțulescu updated:

It is common knowledge that Canadian gamblers use offshore casinos and foreign sites to make sports bets without hesitation. By the current law, casino play within the borders is accepted, as long as the provinces regulate the Houses. The same goes for sports betting. The new open parliamentary debates on Bill C-218 will open your opportunities even more. Here’s where we delve deeper into the issue.

Motivation behind the bill passing

The bottom line that toes all the pro-arguments of representatives together is the strong economic factor behind it. From the analysis done in the past 5 or 6 years, Canadians spend staggering amounts of money on unregulated sports betting, up to 14 billion USD.

Obviously, unregulated cash flows, unfortunately, sustain the black market and other criminal activity. The passing of the C-218 Bill will remove a ban on single-event sport betting slips and move a huge chunk of this money into taxes, which in turn are moved towards other essential sectors.

The small modification of the Criminal Code will also make it easier for official bookmakers and casinos to assemble and continue their activity in an environment with less pressure and with potentially a higher pool of clients.

Fun fact: The province with the most physical casinos is Ontario, and the areas that you can visit for gambling are Niagara Falls and Windsor.

It would also be an advantage for the local and federal governments because the passing of this bill will not bring extra costs to the authorities or operators. Actually, the results will be the opposite because high sums of money will circulate in time.

Motivation behind the bill passing

This is not the first try

A Conservative MP from Saskatchewan, called Kevin Waugh, tried in the past to allow single bets on sport and athletic events for the same economic reasoning mostly. Unfortunately, that try was cancelled, and the act did not pass through.

The opposing parliament members considered that being more liberal with sports bets will hinder the matches’ fairness. Even though casino corporations and professional sports associations favoured the act, the opposition won that time in fear of match-fixing.

The Canadian Gaming Association was also in favour of both the old proposal and the new one, as they have been gathering information on the black-market spending over the years and pointed out the risks of them early on through constant updates.

Bill C-218: statements and interpretation

The bill in question is open publicly to anyone online on Canada’s official parliament site. This section will explain its statements briefly, and we will expand on the consequences of them taking effect.

Sports betting on one single event (match, fight, race, etc.) will be fully legalized, as long as the organizing body of the bookmaking is any of the following:

  • Canada’s federal government;
  • An entity which has received a license from the Lieutenant Governor in Council;
  • A person who received a license from the Lieutenant Governor in Council.

As long as the bet will involve just one sports event, different schemes are accepted, from normal bookmaking to lotteries and such. This is a decision that will be taken by each bet conductor.

One notable supporter of this change is Doug Ford, the in-seat Premier of Ontario, a province with many brick-and-mortar casinos. His arguments note that only the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation managed such events in the past. This, by consequence, created a monopoly and a lot of strain on the Corporation’s employees.

With this liberalization, both of the issues he brought up will eventually fade away and allow other bodies to grow and keep the cash flow moving. Of course, the opposing voices claimed that these changes are too permissive, and they will affect the provinces 2021 budget.

The law is expected to change in the spring months of 2021.

Expected benefits

The idea is not new, and many notable sportspeople are in favour of it, like Adam Silver, the current National Basketball Association Commissioner and Gary Bettman, the in-seat Commissioner of the National Hockey League. Other worthy mentions include Rob Manfred from Major League Baseball and Don Garber, Major League Soccer Commissioner. Obviously, professional sports leagues will benefit from the attention and the money that they will receive.

Of course, betting enthusiasts will be thrilled to see that they now can make the same types of bets on Canadian sites, with a much safer environment and ease to transactions, particularly when it comes to cashing out.

Expected benefits

Current Canadian sports bets characteristics

This bill will affect a wide variety of domains, so it is better to be prepared and have all the facts with you. We will walk you through some topics, including the following:

  • The status of mobile gaming;
  • Popular sports trends in Canada;
  • Answering some crucial questions.

Mobile betting

The market is similar to the U.S., since all the provinces regulate the status of mobile betting independently, just like any American state has its own rules. In Canada, as of the moment when we wrote this article, only Alberta is behind on sports bets. The others have some sort of control over the issue.

Even so, the demand is not so high, which creates certain disadvantages. A prominent one relates to the odds that are not in favour. Another issue is that of mild competition, which makes a problem both for the bettors and the market itself. Of course, becoming laxer with what is allowed will solve both of these.

Popular Canadian sports

We predict that the trends that will follow from the bill’s passing will be based on the already existing fan groups. As we all know, hockey reigns supreme in Canada, with millions of citizens tuning in and watching the matches as they unfold. Some other favourites include:

  • Basketball through the inciting NBA games;
  • American football;
  • Cricket, under the influence of the British;
  • Baseball;
  • Boxing.

In fact, Canada has a lot of similar preferences with its Southern neighbour, the United States of America. This similarity and the closeness between the two will probably extend the effects of a more open market. In fact, predictions claim that the most extensive local market of Ontario could rival the existing ones in the U.S., like New Jersey, for instance, with ease in a few years.

Other predictions bring up the question of geographical proximity. The prospect of legal betting will attract residents of New York and Pennsylvania. This way, they will be able to take part in their favourite competitions with their beloved athletes.

Fun fact: In New Jersey, the gross sports betting yield exceeds 800 million dollars in just one month.

The Canadian Gaming Association supports the claim that more opportunities for sport-related wagers are in high demand, considering the amount of money is sent to offshore websites each year within Canada’s territories.

A short Q&A on sports bets

A short Q&A on sports bets

Let us give you some brief answers on the most discussed topics of Canadian sports wagers. If the trends keep expanding and new questions arise, we might make edits to our text and bring forth the essentials.

How many Canadian sports betting sites are there?

At the moment of us writing this article, there were 16 official Canadian websites dedicated to sporting events and the adjacent wagers put upon them. Each of them operates in different provinces and is regulated by the respective authority. In case you are unsure what institution is in charge of your bets, we prepared a comprehensive table on our informative page about legit Canadian online casinos.

Are Canadian sports bets legit?

Yes, if you choose any licensed site, you will be able to engage in regulated bets, with fair terms and conditions by your side. Of course, some are better in quality than others, but that is for you to decide the best option for you. Your choice should depend on the wagering requirement and cash out processing time.

What bets were accepted before C-218?

At the beginning of the 1990s, Canada made the decision to allow sports bets only the parlay format. This entails that there is one single bet allowed, but the outcome depends on all the other bets placed on the same event. Thus, the potential payoffs are much higher than different configurations.

There was another attempt to allow more bets between 2012 and 2015, with the debates on Bill C-290. Even though the House of Commons passed it with 100% approval, that act did not get by in the Senate, and the effort dropped then and there.

What sports can you place a bet on?

That depends on the bookmaker and their choices. Indeed, you are and will be able to make bets on any of the popular sports in Canada (please see the list in the previous section). Still, we hope that more and more opportunities will arise.

Fun fact: Currently, bets can be placed on beloved Canadian sports like curling and lacrosse, even if the international market does not integrate those in the top options.

Bottom line

Bill C-218 will bring a lot of positive change in the domain of sports betting for Canadian residents. For the bettors, that means more diversity in terms of what they can choose. For the bookmaking businesses, it means a much-needed extension and business flourishing. And finally, for the Canadian authorities, it means a break from monopoly and more money towards other sectors through taxes.

We will see you in our next article. Until then, gamble safely!

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