A Guide to Sports Betting and Vegas Odds in Canada

Canada has sort of an umbilical-cord relationship with the USA in many matters. Betting is one of them. What happens in the USA will most certainly have an impact in Canada too.

So the big question in front of the world’s gambling community is this. Will the recent changes in the US gambling scene with respect to the legislation affect Canada’s gambling industry as well? Or, to be more precise, how is it going to affect the online gambling and sports betting scene in Canada?

For starters, the recent developments in the US gambling industry have their origins in this order by the US Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court struck down the more-than-two-decades-old Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, which in effect allows the individual US states to formulate legislation on sports betting on its own.

Some US states – namely, Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Mississippi, West Virginia Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island – have already taken the lead and legalized sports betting in their states. Many other US states are planning to enact bills to legalize sports betting. It is expected that most of the US states will make sports betting legal within the next couple of years.

The new trend will have its effect on Canadian provinces as well. To understand it in detail, you need to understand the basics of legislation regarding online sports betting in Canada and the actual scenario over there.

Different Provinces, Different Rules

The sport betting phenomenon in the USA so far has fetched only positive results. The states’ revenues have improved. New jobs have been generated. The world’s gambling industry and its assortment of service providers – such as betting software makers, gaming companies, and content platform developers – are looking at the USA with renewed enthusiasm. Naturally, Canadian provincial governments must be watching the developments with interest.

Canada’s 10 provinces – namely, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Newfoundland, and Labrador – have 10 different kinds of legislation regarding gambling and sports betting.

For example, the legal age for betting begins at 18 years for Alberta, Manitoba, and Quebec, while for the rest of the provinces, persons above the 19 years are only eligible for betting. Or, take another example. Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador do not allow casinos in their territory. The other seven provinces do allow casinos.

The bulk of the legislation in these states deal with land-based casinos and different forms of gambling, such as lottery, slots, casinos and other forms of gaming. There is no clear-cut legislation regarding online betting or offshore betting in any of these states.

None of these states can boast of a comprehensive piece of legislation regarding online betting, especially about offshore sports betting. The law, even in states that deal with online sports betting in Canada, cares more about persons who conduct online sports betting business within Canada than about persons who access the online sports betting websites operated from other countries.

A Grey Area Called Offshore Betting

The end result of the rather limited legislation is that it is okay to make online sports betting wagers in Canada, provided you are either dealing with a licensed operator within Canada or an unlicensed operator from outside the country. Dealing with an unlicensed operator from within the province or within the country could land you in trouble.

So far, there has not been a single case registered in Canada for placing sports bets on an unauthorized offshore gambling or betting website.

The concerns regarding this rather colloidal situation are two-prong.

First, there are calls from concerned citizen groups, especially those that tackle problem gambling among youngsters, to rein in the mushrooming acceptance of offshore gambling websites among youngsters.

Second, a number of responsible citizens, including legislators, are worried about the loss of revenue caused to the state because of the business operation of unlicensed offshore betting operators.

What to Do and What Not to Do

Well, as a lay bettor, what are the things one must keep in mind when involving with online sports betting in Canada?

The usual caveats regarding betting apply – be it in Canada or anywhere in the world for that matter. For instance, do not go by emotion and your likes or dislikes towards a particular team. Place your bet after a thorough analysis – both about the particular game and about the various odds, including Vegas odds, offered by the bookmakers. The odds can give you an excellent idea about what bookmakers think about the game as well as about how other bettors are placing the bets.

In addition to those must-do practices, here is a fairly simple checklist:

  1. Always check the domicile where the website is licensed.

  2. Ensure that the country of origin of the website has legalized sports betting.

  3. Check whether or not there is any issue for transferring money to and from Canada to that particular domicile. What is the use if you win your bets but cannot withdraw the money from that account to your own bank account?

Impact of Recent Legislation Changes in US States

One thing is certain. As more and more US states legalize sports betting, it will have a definite impact in Canadian provinces as well. It is not easy, or possible, to quantify the impact at this juncture. Betting on the betting industry’s developments is perhaps the riskiest of all bets!

One likely result is that more Canadian provinces will embrace online sports betting and formulate clear-cut legislation regarding offshore betting, inspired by the various similar Bills in the US states. It is also likely that the new rules will incline towards curtailing the activities of offshore gambling websites.

Even if they will continue to be allowed, such websites will be asked to get licensed. That is the worldwide trend. The governments usually have their eyes on the licensing fee and tax revenues from gambling and betting. If they do not take such measures, the revenue loss for the government will be significant.

As happened in the USA, more and more top betting companies in the world are likely to land in the Canadian provinces. Canadians will have an array of sports to bet on, such as tennis, cricket, motor racing, apart from the most preferred sports like basketball and football.


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