Gambling in Canada is regulated by the Canadian Criminal Code which sets forth heavy restrictions on both online gambling and sports betting. According to the current laws, online casinos cannot operate legally without a licence but the Canadian government doesn’t issue any licences for online casinos based in Canada. Sports betting is also subject to many restrictions but that’s all about to change because single-event sports betting is set to become legal in Canada as Bill C-218 passes in the Senate.
Bill C-218 was proposed and later approved in a measure to update Canada’s gambling laws which were considered to be very outdated and to decriminalise gambling. In a nutshell, the approval of Bill C-218 will allow Canadians to bet on single-event sports which was previously illegal according to the Criminal Code. Horse race betting was the only form of sports betting allowed in Canada, which meant that Canada was losing a large chunk of sports bettors to US bookmakers who accept players from Canada.
Before the bill received approval by the House of Commons and the royal assent, Canadians were only allowed to place parlay bets, meaning multiple events in one ticket. Canadians could bet on sports via a lottery company but had to bet on at least two different games. In order to win with a parlay bet, bettors have to pick the outcome of every game correctly, meaning the odds of winning are lower than when betting on the outcome of a single game or match.
The passing of the Private Members Bill C-218 will expand the sports betting market in Canada by allowing single-game wagers on football, hockey, and other sports. The Private Members bill was passed as a measure to regain customers from offshore casinos and betting sites, illegal bookies, and casinos in the US. The new bill was initially proposed in the beginning of 2024 by sports betting advocate Brian Masse, but initial hearings failed to get the bill approved. The Canadian Gaming Authority then gained the support of major US sports leagues like the NBA and the NFL to support the proposed bill and it was finally approved in 2024.
What Does This Mean For Canadian Sports Bettors?
The approval of Bill C-218 is a major milestone for the Canadian gambling industry and great news for both sports bettors and bookmakers. With the passing of Bill C-218, gambling will also no longer be controlled by Canada’s Criminal Code because gambling laws and any relevant penalties will now be up to each province to decide and handle.
Before Bill C-218 was approved by the Senate, The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) had been working for over a decade to legalise single-event sports betting in the country. The bill was supported due to the need for better regulation and protective measures to protect players from illegal or unfair gambling.
The new bill will undoubtedly bring positive and much-needed changes to the sports betting market in Canada, with operators being able to offer competitive sports betting that will strengthen the gambling industry in Canada. The approval of the bill is also considered to be vital to Ontario’s upcoming online gambling regime which is being proposed by the Ministry of Finance.
Provinces Will Now be Able to Regulate Sports Betting like the USA
With the latest amendments to the Criminal Code, it will be up to different Canadian provinces and territories to regulate betting on single-sports events. These changes were also introduced as a measure to combat illegal sports betting and redirect funds going to organised crime to the community. Canada will be able to regulate single-sport event wagering in the same way as the United States, with each of Canada’s 10 provinces having the freedom to choose how to regulate the market.
Bill C-218 was introduced after a decade-long battle to remove the single-game wagering ban in Canada’s Criminal Code in early 2024. After a long process which involved the House of Commons, the Standing Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce, and the Senate of Canada, the bill received royal assent in June and was made official. The future of sports betting in Canada is looking bright as bettors are likely to return from offshore sportsbooks to Canadian bookmakers now that the ban on single-event sports has been removed.