On the 27th of August, 2021, the safe and regulated sports betting act, which at the time was known as bill C-218, received royal assent, thereby completely overhauling the current murky legislation concerning sports betting. The bill focussed mainly on empowering each of Canada’s provinces and territories, giving them the means to regulate themselves when it came to sports betting.
The initial response from Ontario, Alberta, and Vancouver to name but a few, was to legalize single game sports betting, which was done through each of the province’s online sports lottery products. Ontario was the first to implement this, having launched their Proline + product on the very same day as the passing of the bill.
While much of the hype revolved around single game betting, the key thinking behind the legal overhaul of betting in Canada was to attempt to keep gambling money in Canada. The vast majority of betting in Canada has either been done through unlicensed illegal Canadian sportsbooks, or gray market offshore bookmakers.
According to CBC, money from legal sports lotteries was responsible for bringing in the least amount of income compared to unlicensed Canadian bookies, and gray market offshore betting sites. The revenue that stands to be generated from taxes could hold further importance for problem gamblers in the country.
Ontario was the first of Canada’s provinces to take action,and began creating somewhat of a legal sports betting infrastructure that would lead to what was described as a thriving betting market with many choices (or operators). They initially estimated that their new market would be ready before the end of 2021, but in reality, sports betting in Ontario is set to launch in April 2022.
The highly anticipated launch date is set to open up a new world of officially legal options, with operators from the US, UK and Sweden all having received the license. Some of these operators had already been operating in Canada’s gray market, and their decision to opt for the Ontario license means that they will be shutting off their operations in the rest of the country.
This is a fairly interesting decision from these bookmakers, as they are essentially closing off their operations to the majority of the country’s population, which could have implications on their businesses. The truth however, is that a lot of these operators get the majority of their traffic from Ontario.
The launch of legal sports betting is bound to change much about iGaming (online betting and casino) in Canada. Some operators who have received the KGC (Kahnawake Gaming Commission) license have been unimpressed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s decision to not yet clearly mention whether or not their licenses will hold any weight in the province, but one thing remains clear, Ontario residents are going to have plenty more options come April.