Legal Sports Betting May Be Coming to Canada

Quinn Allen
By , Updated on: Dec 19, 2023 07:00 PM
Legal Sports Betting May Be Coming to Canada

Sports betting has not been totally illegal in Canada for quite some time. As of right now, they allow multi-wager bets—otherwise known as "parlays." Only horse racing is currently allowed to take single wagers. Other sports, such as—NHL, MLB, NFL, NBA, etc.—all fall under the aforementioned umbrella. But as we already stated, that's all about to change, because legal sports betting may be coming to Canada—and soon.

Just so we're clear, and like we've already mentioned, the passing of Bill C-218 doesn't technically guarantee anything. It still has to go through the Senate. But that's considered a formality. 

Despite its relatively low priority status, experts and many government officials expect it to get the green light without any issues.

Impact of Legal Sports Betting in Canada

The legalization of sports betting is long overdue in Canada. They had already flirted with it under the current parlay-only rule. Keeping it that way is just leaving money on the table.

At present, much of Canada's gambling business isn't taking place domestically. Consider what Yahoo Finance's Jeff Lagerquist wrote: 

"The result has been an estimated $14 billion per year in wagers from Canadians going to offshore firms like and homegrown illegal bookmakers, according to the Canadian Gaming Association. A recent report by Deloitte Canada suggests that within five years of legalization, Canadian sports betting could grow from $500 million to nearly $28 billion in legal-market wagering."

A large chunk of this impact will be felt by online gaming companies specifically. Initial estimates use the original returns in the United States as a baseline, and they predict that Canada could see between "$3.8 and $5.4 billion U.S." in annual revenue from online gaming alone.

This makes sense when you dig deeper. The world at large has shifted to more of an online presence in general, and many of Canada's sports bettors are already using offshore online sportsbooks. By making it legal to place single wagers online domestically, Canada should immediately be able to poach some of those profits and keep more of its own money countryside.

Legal Sports Betting In Canada Will Help Casinos

Digital bookies—who are already lining up for Canadian gaming licenses, by the way—aren't the only ones who stand to benefit from this move. It will also have a massively positive effect on casinos.

The global pandemic has hit the on-site gaming industry hard in every region. But Canada's casinos were at a disadvantage prior to COVID-19 shutdowns—which, for the record, are still taking place in the country.

Many of Canada's casinos are located directly by the U.S. border, so they have lost a lot of their sports-betting business to the states before now. People could easily leave the country to get their gambling fix in one of the more northern states—New Hampshire, New York, New Jersey, etc.—and then return home.  

By making sports betting available domestically at all licensed casinos, Canada will not only limit the amount of business that heads to the U.S., but it will give people more of a reason to head back to casinos post-pandemic at all.

canada legal sports betting

Sports Betting Impact On Job Market

Legal sports betting in Canada won't just affect the country's bottom line. It will help augment the job market.

As many other international locales have found, the legalization of sports betting paves the way for a greater demand of workers in the tech, cybersecurity, and customer service sectors. Even the United States has seen an uptick in these industries as the legalization of sports betting has continued to grow.

This makes bill C-218 infinitely huge. Canada's domestic gaming market is rather sparse because so much of the action is directed offshore. The aforementioned job markets aren't starting from scratch, but they should enjoy more accelerated growth than was experienced by other countries. 

So not only would Canada's economy be getting a bump from sports betting revenue itself, but the influx of jobs should prove integral to jump-starting the overarching, more general economy once it finally emerges from the pandemic.

Timeline For Legal Sports Betting In Canada

There is no exact timeline for bill C-218 to become a law. Its status is complicated by the fact that it's a privately proposed addendum rather than a government-backed one. Some are worried the conservative party will look to delay its review, if not figure out a way to dismiss it entirely.

Most people aren't concerned with this taking place, though. Conservatives may find a way to prolong the legalization of sports betting, but the odds of it being stopped outright are incredibly slim. Too many people, of all partisanships, are already in favor of giving it the green light.

The charted growth in the job market is expected to sway whatever detractors remain. Injecting new, sustainable life into the economy should be priority No. 1, and no government officials can deny the potential opportunities that await in the tech, cybersecurity, and customer service sectors. 

Heck, with the legalization of sports betting, Canada might even draw interest from professional sports leagues looking to expand. The NBA already has a team-up north (Toronto Raptors) and used to have another (Vancouver Grizzlies). With the expansion in the Association deemed inevitable, and given the NBA's ties to legal sportsbooks, this would open the door for Canada to have a second team again. Even the NFL might consider putting a team in Canada if it ever looks to build upon its 32-franchise portfolio.

Loosely translated: Look for legalized sports betting to reach Canada soon—probably before the end of 2021.

In case you still need a place at which to submit your wagers, check out this list of the top online sportsbooks:

Meet the author

Quinn Allen

Quinn Allen leverages his broadcast journalism degree and passion for sports in his betting previews and analysis. Based in Kelowna, Canada, he has emerged as an expert voice with picks featured on OSB, MTS, SBD, and as a ClutchPoints editor. With a lifelong fandom of...

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