Is Sports Betting Legal in Canada?
Thanks to significant changes to gambling laws in Canada in 2021, Sports betting is now completely legal in Canada.
Here’s everything you need to know about sports betting in Canada, including the history of sports betting’s legalization in Canada, the current sports betting laws in Canada, and the best legal betting sites in Canada.
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Legal Canadian Online Sports Betting Sites
If you’re new to sports betting in Canada, let us give you a quick rundown of what makes a great sports betting site. The best sports betting sites in Canada will be the ones where you can place lots of types of bets, get great bonuses, and get customer support when you need it. We also think betting sites need to have betting apps, a sleek user interface, diverse banking options, a trustworthy reputation, and be available in multiple languages and accept different currencies.
What to Look for In Legal Betting Sites?
In our opinion, these factors are by far the most important ones to consider when grading any betting site in Canada. Since these factors are so important, we are going to take a closer look at each of them. We’ll go in detail and tell you all the things you should consider when choosing a legal betting site in Canada.
Most betting sites will offer the traditional betting line of spread, totals (over/under), and moneyline bets for most major sports, but we think the best betting sites go above and beyond traditional offerings. You should be able to place prop bets, parlays, futures, and other kinds of bet types in addition to the normal betting line. Certain sites stand out even further by offering unique features, like boosted odds. In our opinion, the more types of bets available, the better.
When we say “bet types” we aren’t only referring to the actual types of bets you can place, but also to the sports you can bet on. The vast majority of Canadian betting sites will allow you to bet on hockey, football, basketball, soccer, NCAA sports, and many other sports.
Obviously, certain things matter more to other people. If you’re only interested in placing hockey bets, a site’s basketball online betting options won’t be important to you. You should review the betting markets of a site before creating your account to make sure you can bet on what you’re interested in once you have an account.
As Canadian bettors, the betting markets available to you are particularly interesting. The popularity of the CFL and NFL means there are lots of options for football betting in Canada. The Raptor’s popularity means there are a lot of promos geared specifically towards NBA betting in Canada.
Soccer betting is also very popular in Canada thanks to both soccer’s general popularity, but also Canada’s multicultural makeup. If you’re a soccer fan, you should have plenty of soccer betting sites to choose from, but they are not all created equally. Some sites are very limited in their futures and prop bets, and other sites might not have great odds for smaller leagues. These are all things you should consider when picking a betting site.
NCAA basketball betting is also very popular in Canada, but not as popular as in the US, so you might really need to do your research if you are a hardcore NCAA basketball fan. If you’re just interested in the March Madness tournament, almost every site should have you covered come March. You might need to look around some more though if you’re interested in low level, regular season NCAA basketball betting.
Bonuses and Promotions
If you’ve watched any sports since sports betting’s legalization in Canada, you’re probably at least somewhat aware of sports betting bonuses. Most of these ads are very over the top about their welcome bonuses, which range from free bet offers to rewards program points and everything in between.
While we have thoughts about the best online sports betting bonuses, what truly makes the best sports betting offers depends on the sports bettor. We’ll try and help you make up your own mind by telling you about some common types of sportsbook bonuses.
The first kind of bonus you should know about are welcome bonuses. Welcome bonuses, sometimes called sign-up bonuses, are pretty much what they sound like. They are bonuses you get for creating an account with betting site. Normally, these welcome bonus offers are tied to your first deposit or your first bet.
Welcome bonuses that don’t require a deposit or bet are called “no-deposit bonuses.” These are less common among betting sites with welcome bonuses, but they are still out there.
More commonly, betting sites will match your first deposit up to a certain amount. For example, a betting site will match 100% of your first deposit (up to $1,000) in free bets. Some of the best betting sites welcome bonuses will match 200% of your first deposit and give you other perks such as free spins in their online casino or loyalty/rewards points.
Another popular type of welcome bonuses is the “risk-free first bet.” Unlike matching deposit bonuses, risk-free first bets are only awarded if your first bet is a losing one. If you lose your first bet, the betting site will give you a free bet equal to the amount of your first bet. Depending on the terms and conditions of the betting site, you may actually be given multiple free bets equal to the amount of your first bet.
“Bet and Get” bonuses are also fairly common welcome bonuses. These bonuses are usually tied to promo codes and will give you a large free bet bonus for a relatively low first bet. For example, some sites will give you $200 in free bets if you create an account and place just a $5 bet.
Other kinds of welcome bonuses will give you free spins for slot games at the sportsbook’s online casino or rewards points to be used at the sportsbook, casino, or sometimes even the sportsbook’s physical locations.
Free bet offers, free spins, and royalty points are also pretty common rewards for existing customer promos. Existing customer promos are very different depending on the site. Some betting sites have constant promos for existing customers, but others only have promotions for big sporting events, like the Super Bowl.
All welcome bonuses and existing customer promotions come with terms and conditions. For welcome bonuses, these terms and conditions usually relate to minimum deposit amount or rollover requirements. Be sure to review the terms and conditions closely before signing up with a sportsbook just for their welcome bonus.
Like every kind of website on the internet, online betting sites vary greatly when it comes to their user interfaces. Some sportsbooks’ sites look like they belong in 2010 and not 2023. Some people like this because adds simplicity compared to some of the new betting sites with complicated websites.
In our opinion, the best betting sites are somewhere between the two extremes. They should be simple and easy-to-use, but also relatively up-to-date and easy on the eyes. Betting sites should be easy-to-use in the sense that it’s easy to place bets, but also easy to make deposits and withdrawals.
Another thing to consider when thinking about a betting site’s user interface is how the site looks on a mobile browser. Not all betting sites have betting apps, so the way a site looks and operates on a mobile device could be crucial.
Mobile betting apps
One of the major consequences of sports betting being legal in Canada now is the proliferation of sports betting apps. Many of the features that make up the best sports betting apps in Canada are the ones that make up the best betting sites.
Betting apps should be easy to use, have a sleek user interface, and most importantly offer the same features as their sportsbook’s desktop site. What makes some apps the best betting apps though are additional features you can’t get on the desktop site. These can be in the form of special promotions for mobile users, live streaming of games, or something else entirely that’s exclusive to mobile users.
For betting sites that don’t have apps, their website should be fully optimized for mobile devices. If they aren’t betting on your phone could be a huge hassle.
The last thing to pay attention to with betting apps is whether the betting site is legal in every Canadian province. While sports betting in Canada is legal, not every site is legal in every province. This is because of how Canadian parliament legalized sports betting in Canada. We’ll get into it in more detail later, but basically Canada’s sports betting legalization left rulemaking up to the provinces so they have different rules.
Deposit and withdrawal options
Because the most important things about sports betting are actually being able to place bets and then withdraw your winnings, deposit and withdrawal options are incredibly important. Some people prefer traditional banking options, like debit cards and bank transfers, while others like more modern approaches, such as cryptocurrency. The best Canadian betting sites will have diverse banking options that satisfy everyone.
Payout speed and transaction fees are other things you really should consider. Payout speeds are straightforward and uniform at most sites, but transaction fees can be more complicated.
A betting site may have the perfect deposit and withdrawal options for you, but the fees could make it not worth it. Most betting sites will have standard low fees, but some are more extreme. Normally, fees vary depending on the deposit and withdrawal methods, as well as the amount you are depositing/withdrawing.
High deposit fees are a bummer and often can be a dealbreaker for some sports bettors, so we recommend you review betting sites’ terms and conditions and read sportsbook reviews online to learn about the site’s transaction fees before creating an account.
While banking options are one of the most important things about a betting site, being trustworthy is the most important thing a sportsbook can be. When you give a betting site your personal information and money, you want to know that they will be responsible with it.
There are many betting sites in Canada that have built good reputations over decades. There are also many new betting sites in Canada with less established reputations. This complex ecosystem can make it hard to know who to trust. Because of this, before you gamble with any site, be sure to do your research and read some sportsbooks reviews online to learn about who you’re giving your money and information to.
We hope you never have issues with any sportsbook, but we can’t promise that you won’t have any problems. Because of this, you’re going to do your sports betting with a site that has good customer service options.
The best sport betting sites in Canada will have a 24/7 chat and phone line, as well as a dedicated email address that responds quickly to emails. From our experiences with many betting sites, most betting sites won’t have all three of a chat, phone number, and email. Usually, just a chat and email are available. Thankfully, in most cases, these are enough to resolve any issues. However, for us, response time can be a real problem.
Some betting sites’ customer service can be really frustrating to deal with considering how long they take to work with. Most betting sites will boast about their customer support options, so their websites aren’t reliable. We suggest looking into customer reviews of the betting site’s customer service before signing up for a sportsbook.
Good sites should also have a dedicated help centre full of FAQs and articles to help you solve quick issues by yourself without having to interact with customer service.
Currencies and languages
Canada is a multicultural and multilingual nation. Canadian sports betting sites should reflect this and be available in multiple languages and accept multiple currencies.
Having multiple currencies could mean accepting CAD, USD, cryptocurrency, or whichever preferred currency you choose to gamble with.
Is Sports Betting Legal in Canada?
Sports betting was formally legalized in Canada in 2021 after the Parliament passed C-218, which amended Canada’s Criminal Code and revolutionized gambling laws in Canada. Sports betting is now 100% legal in Canada.
The Laws for Online Sports Betting in Canada
What C-218 did specifically was amend the Canadian Criminal Code to allow provinces to regulate sportsbooks in their own provinces. This is virtually identical to the process of sports betting’s legalization in the US. The US’s national anti-sports betting law was struck down by the US Supreme Court, which allowed for states to make their own rules.
Now, it’s only illegal to run an unlicensed sportsbook based in Canada, offer sports betting services to underage persons, and to participate in illegal betting by placing bets at an illegal sportsbook.
Outside of those illegal operations, and some grey market options that continue to survive, sports betting is now completely regulated by individual Canadian provinces. We’ll describe the specific licensing regimes in greater detail later, but for now, you should know that the laws in each province are similar, with some exceptions.
One exception is legal betting age since there is not one uniform legal betting age in Canada. Legal betting age depends on your province. In Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, you need to be 18 years old or older. In British Columbia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan, you need to be 19 years old or older.
Single game sports betting Canada
The sports betting bill in Canada opened the door for single game sports betting, which was previously illegal. Before, Canada gambling laws only allowed for betting on horseracing and gambling with provincial lotteries. Lotteries were allowed to run multi-game parlays, but betting on individual results was illegal.
This is great news for sports bettors and sportsbooks alike. We like to think of legalizing single game sports betting as kind of like taking the training wheels off. While horseracing, lotteries, and multi-game parlays are good for some people, they are merely a drop in the ocean when it comes to the world of gambling made possible thanks to Canada’s single game sports betting bill.
Single game sports betting being legal now means Canadian bettors can place bets on individual games, player performances, and many other things that were previously illegal.
How We Select the Best Canadian Betting Sites?
The best Canadian betting sites are first and foremost trustworthy and reliable. We will never recommend a site that is illegal or one that has a poor reputation with customers. Once that is established, we grade sportsbooks on their bonuses and promotions, mobile app, key features, betting markets, odds, banking options, and customer support performance.
Outside of trustworthiness, it’s hard to prioritize one thing over the other when it comes to features we like to consider are whether the site has live betting on sports, if the site also has an casino, and the site’s sports betting bonuses. Additionally, a betting site’s app, user interface, and banking options are very important to us.
Illegal Gambling in Canada
While Canada’s gambling laws have become significantly more relaxed around sports betting, there will always be illegal betting operations in Canada. We obviously recommend you avoid these betting sites, but sometimes they can be hard to notice, so here are some tips to help you make sure the site you’re gambling with is legit.
First, read sportsbook reviews online. This is a straightforward step that is incredibly valuable as well as simple. See what other people are saying about a site to get a feel for whether they are legit or not.
Second, look at the betting site’s license. We recommend you only gamble with completely legal betting sites in Canada (i.e., sites that have Canadian licenses). However, if you don’t like any of those sites, there are also “grey market” sites that are registered offshore but still a legal option for sports bettors in Canada. These sites are riskier so be sure to do your research.
The Sports Betting Industry in Canada
Like in the US, the sports betting industry has exploded in Canada since sports betting’s legalization in Canada. Established “grey market” betting sites with big player bases in Canada have sought out licenses in Canada, US sportsbooks have opened Canadian sports betting sites, and new betting sites have emerged to take advantage of the new market frenzy.
Right now, many provinces’ online sports betting markets contain just state-owned licensed betting sites, but Canada’s most populous province, Ontario, has fully opened to private sportsbooks.
Big brands, like BetMGM, are establishing themselves in Ontario to take advantage of the province’s nearly 15 million people. Big teams in Ontario, like the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators, the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, the MLB’s Toronto Blue Jays, and MLS’s Toronto FC as well as the NFL’s Buffalo Bills who are just across the border, makes Ontario a fertile environment for sports betting.
Sports betting has lots of room to grow outside of Ontario as well. Besides the Leafs and Senators, Canada has five other NHL teams with millions of fans among them. The Raptors and Blue Jays are Canada’s sole representatives in their respective leagues, so they have fans all throughout Canada. Meanwhile, MLS has two other soccer teams in Canada and there are millions of other soccer fans who support non-MLS teams.
All this is without mentioning the CFL and NFL’s popularity in Canada. The recent growth of sports betting in the US is largely tied to how the NFL has embraced sports betting companies with open arms. We should expect legal sports betting in Canada to see a similar explosion once the NFL and CFL are able to embrace legal, licensed betting sites in provinces outside of Ontario.
Kahnawake Gaming Commission, iGaming Ontario, PlayNow BC and others
After sports betting’s legalization in Canada, many provinces set up their own sports betting and online gambling platforms. These platforms also served a role as licensing agencies for private sportsbooks looking to operate inside certain provinces.
The most well-known of these agencies is probably the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. As a regulatory body, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission goes back to 1996 and offers licenses for betting sites operating in the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory in Quebec. However, grey area in Canadian law means that sportsbooks licensed under the Kahnawake Gaming Commission are legal all throughout Canada, except for Ontario, who has chosen to implement their own strict licensing regime.
Ontario’s licensing regimes requires betting sites to be licensed by iGaming Ontario. iGaming Ontario is the sports betting arm of the Government of Ontario and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). The AGCO also works with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG). OLG first created their own online gambling platform, called ProLine+, before private sportsbooks were given licences.
British Columbia is in the process of replicating how Ontario became the thriving private legal sports betting market it is today. As of now, British Columbia’s sole licensed sportsbook is the state-owned PlayNow BC.
Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan join British Columbia as provinces with just one legally licensed online sportsbook.
Gambling in the Provinces
Gambling Laws in Ontario
|Online sports betting is legal in Ontario. Betting sites must be licensed by iGaming Ontario. You must be 19 years or older to gamble in Ontario.|
Gambling Laws in Alberta
|Online sports betting is legal in Alberta. Alberta’s gaming agency’s Play Alberta betting site is the only licensed betting site in Alberta. You must be 18 years or older to gamble in Alberta.|
Gambling Laws in Quebec
|Online sports betting is legal in Quebec. Quebec’s Loto-Québec’s Mise-o-jeu is the only licensed betting site in Quebec. You must be 18 years or older to gamble in Quebec.|
Gambling Laws in Nova Scotia
|Online sports betting is legal in Nova Scotia. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation’s PRO•LINE betting site is the only licensed betting site in Nova Scotia. You must be 19 years or older to gamble in Nova Scotia.|
Gambling Laws in New Brunswick
|Online sports betting is legal in New Brunswick. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation’s PRO•LINE betting site is the only licensed betting site in New Brunswick. You must be 19 years or older to gamble in New Brunswick.|
Gambling Laws in Manitoba
|Online sports betting is legal in Manitoba. PlayNow is the only licensed betting site in Manitoba. You must be 18 years or older to gamble in Manitoba.|
Gambling Laws in British Colombia
|Online sports betting is legal in British Colombia. PlayNow BC is the only licensed betting site in British Colombia. You must be 19 years or older to gamble in British Colombia.|
Gambling Laws in Prince Edward Island
|Online sports betting is legal in Prince Edward Island. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation’s PRO•LINE betting site is the only licensed betting site in Prince Edward Island. You must be 19 years or older to gamble in Prince Edward Island.|
Gambling Laws in Newfoundland and Labrador
|Online sports betting is legal in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Atlantic Lottery Corporation’s PRO•LINE betting site is the only licensed betting site in Newfoundland and Labrador. You must be 19 years or older to gamble in Newfoundland and Labrador.|
Gambling Laws in Saskatchewan
|Online sports betting is legal in Saskatchewan. PlayNow is the only licensed betting site in Saskatchewan. You must be 19 years or older to gamble in Saskatchewan.|
Responsible Gambling in Canada
Before you start sports betting, there are some general things you should keep in mind. First, and most importantly, sports betting is not a form of investment. Sports betting should be treated as entertainment and nothing more.
Don’t bet anything you aren’t willing to lose. Know your limits and be aware of when you are spending too much. Always do your research before placing your bets. Don’t chase long odds when you are down.
If you feel you or someone close to you needs help, ConnexOntario is available 24/7 at 1-866-531-2600.
Bill C-218 made sports betting legal in Canada. You can now bet on hockey, football, basketball, soccer and so many more sports using any number of the huge number of legal betting sites in Canada. Because there are so many legal sports betting sites, it can be hard to figure out which ones are the best. We suggest you always do your research before betting with any sportsbook.
Some factors we think you should especially consider are the sportsbooks trustworthiness, bonuses, key features, betting markets, betting odds, the sportsbook mobile app, customer support options, and banking options.
FAQ About Legal Betting Offers in Canada
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Noah Strang is an experienced sports writer having covered many professional sports leagues across North America. He was worked extensively covering the NHL and been accredited media for the Vegas Golden Knights in the past. He’s also known as one of the best iGaming writers across Canada with extensive experience covering the development of legal sports betting across the country. He was born and raised in Vancouver, BC, and enjoys taking advantage of the coastline. When not writing, you can find him watching whatever sport is on TV or playing pickup basketball.