The sports betting industry in Canada has grown tremendously over the past few years, with provinces receiving total control over the betting activities in their jurisdictions.
Although betting on sports has been part of Canada for many centuries, its regulation is fairly recent. Punters can legally bet on various products, and the laws differ for each province. This guide covers how to bet on sports in Canada, including opening an account, claiming bonuses, and understanding the different markets, bet types, odds, and betting features.
In short - Yes. Sports betting is legal in Canada, but there are many things to note. Each province has unique regulations and bodies to oversee the licensing and betting standards. Before you start betting, you should know what the laws in your province say about betting on specific products. We recommend betting on legitimate platforms with necessary licenses from credible authorities. Here’s what you should know about the legality of sports betting in Canada:
The History of Sports Betting In Canada
For a long time, sports betting was underground until 1862, when it was brought to the government's attention. Single-game sports betting was not federally regulated, but parlay betting was legal and controlled by provincially run bodies like the lottery. Online sports betting was a legal gray area, meaning no clear laws existed. Punters could bet on offshore websites without worrying about legal punishment.
However, no legally licensed operators existed, so there was nobody to run to if scammed. Everything changed in 2021 when Bill C-218 was passed into law. The bill opened gambling legality to provincial discretion, meaning each province was left to structure their laws regarding legal sports betting.
Laws, Regulations & Licenses
So far, only Ontario has a regulated sports betting market. The province has a governing body (Ontario iGO) that oversees licensing, taxing and gambling standards. Many operators have entered the market and are licensed to offer legal sports betting through online platforms and apps. Other provinces like Alberta, Quebec, and British Columbia are in the process of creating a similar legal structure. Punters outside Ontario can still place bets on offshore sportsbooks. No law punishes any citizen for betting abroad. Punters can also place bets on sportsbooks licensed by the Ontario iGO. In 2022, 13 unique operators entered the market and received their Ontario iGaming license.
All legitimate sports betting sites have a license. For many years, punters in Canada have looked to betting sites licensed offshore (outside Canada). Most legitimate sportsbooks offering betting opportunities for Canada have licenses from the Kahnawake Gambling Commission. Other reputable bodies/entities include the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), and the Curacao Gaming Commission (CGC). Today’s punters can also bet on sportsbooks licensed by the Ontario iGO, the only regulator out of Canada.
How Betting Laws Affect Gambling Operators
Betting laws determine various standards operators must meet to provide their betting products to the market. For an operator to provide sports betting odds in Canada, they need a license from any of the bodies mentioned above. Operators with a license from Ontario can enjoy various privileges, including advertising their gambling products. Betting laws determine who is eligible for a license, how much they must pay for the license, what paperwork they must provide, the taxes, advertising privileges, customer protection requirements, and many more. Failing to meet all regulations required by the license.
Sports Betting & Tax Laws
Sports betting operators must pay a licensing fee of $100,000 in Ontario. The figure is different for other regulators. Operators must also pay a 20% tax rate on all gambling income. Punters are taxed separately using income tax laws. Failing to pay taxes can lead to license revocation and market exit. The taxes collected from sportsbook operators are used to improve local infrastructure and support other government projects.
The Future of Sports Betting In Canada
Sports betting is on the rise throughout North America. Ontario was the first Canadian province to establish a regulated market for online sports betting, and other provinces are expected to follow suit. Punters have been betting online for many years, and provinces are keen to tap into the tax income from such opportunities. We've seen leading operators make big moves to enter the North American territory, and states with legal betting already report record-breaking returns. We expect Canadian provinces like Alberta and British Columbia to have legal betting markets within the next few months or years. Land-based betting is already legal in various places, so it's a matter of time before sports betting becomes ordinary everywhere in Canada.
Things to Consider About Sports Betting in Canada
A licensed gambling platform is a good choice, but betting has many facets. Here are some of the things to consider before you start placing real money bets online:
Security: Choose a sportsbook with adequate security features, including the latest SSL Certificates.
Payment Safety: Stick to operators with secure payment options, including cards, eWallets, prepaid vouchers, bank transfers, and cryptocurrencies.
Customer Support: Choose operators offering 24/7 customer service, including live chat, email, phone, and extensive on-page resources.
How to Bet on Sports in Canada?
If you’ve placed a real money bet on sports before, you shouldn’t have trouble betting in Canada. The process is straightforward and involves signing up for an account with a legitimate sportsbook. Once you have an account, you can deposit funds, find your favourite sports, view markets and odds and place a bet. Here’s a more detailed outlook on how to place a sports bet in Canada:
Choosing A Trustworthy Sportsbook
Although this is a simple step, it requires much consideration. You should stick to reputable sports betting platforms with a valid gambling license, top-notch security, massive betting markets, lucrative bonuses, and exceptional customer service. You can also look into mobile betting apps and other highlight features
How to Open an Account?
Once you find a reputable sportsbook, the next step is to open your free gambling account. Most sportsbooks make the sign-up process effortless, so you can complete it within a few minutes. Here are the basic steps:
Launch The Registration Page: In most sportsbooks, the registration page is launched by clicking a button next to the LOG IN button. It can be SIGN UP, JOIN NOW, REGISTER, or other similar names.
Enter Your Details: Once at the registration page, you can find three or more steps but all involve entering specific information. Enter your username (a unique name chosen by you) and password. You must also enter a valid email address and personal details such as your name, date of birth, address, phone number, and other details.
Verify Your Details: The sportsbook will send a verification link to the email address provided. Go to your email and click on the link to verify account ownership. You can also continue with KYC verification by uploading the necessary ID documents. This will help when it comes time to withdraw winnings.
Explore The Sportsbook: Once your account is verified, you can explore the sportsbook for bonuses, sports, markets, odds, and more. Some sportsbooks feature an app you can download for your Android or iOS device. You can open your account from the app or browser website.
You'll encounter various betting features when learning how to bet on sports. The feature set and make or break your betting experience. Here are some popular betting features you should know:
Live Betting: This feature allows you to bet on ongoing games (being played currently). The odds are fluid and allow you to take advantage of different moments in the game.
Live Streaming: With this feature, you can get real-time updates of a live match, including the scores, current attacks, and other statistics.
Cash Out: You can use the cashout feature when you've bet on multiple events. The feature allows you to cash out part of your winnings before the last event is played out.
Parlay Builder: Some sportsbooks let you build same-game parlays conveniently and also provide predetermined parlays and multi-bets.
Sports Betting Markets & Odds
Sports betting is all about markets and odds. Markets are events/outcomes you can bet on, while the odds determine how much you'll win. In this section, we explore the popular markets, bet types, and odds:
You'll encounter many betting markets, including moneyline, spread, over/under (totals), parlays, props, and futures. Sports have different markets, but some outcomes are standard, like who's the favourite to win a game or a championship. Here are the popular markets:
Moneyline: The moneyline market involves betting on the outcome of the game. In football and soccer, you can bet on whether Team A will win, Team B will win, or the result will be a draw. Some sports don't have draws. You're basically betting for the favourite, underdog, or draw.
Spread: The spread bet is all about betting on the difference between the scores of the two teams. In football betting and many other sports, you'll find a spread bet in the form of +/- X. An example is Team A (-5.5), Team B (+5.5). In this example, Team A must beat Team B by at least six goals, like a 7-1, for you to win if you bet on Team A to cover the spread. If you bet on Team B, it must not lose by more than five goals.
Totals (over/under): This market involves betting on whether the total score or outcome will be above or below a given threshold. For instance, if the odds from Team A and B are Over/Under (5.5), the combined number of goals must be at least six, like in a 4-2 score, for you to win the Over bet. If the goals are five or fewer, you can only win by betting on Under.
Prop & Future Bets: A prop bet involves betting on the outcomes of different events on a particular player or in-game outcome rather than the match. For example, you can bet on a specific player to score three goals or more in a match or the game to result in 18 corners. Props are unique and diverse and vary from game to game. Futures are simply bets on future outcomes, like a team winning the Championship at the end of a tournament or a player becoming the MVP of the season.
How to Read the Odds? 🔢
One of the important skills to master when learning how to bet on sports is how to read the odds. The odds are different for each game and market. They carry different formats and interpretations. Here are examples of moneyline and spread bets:
Team A (+330)
Team B (-420)
Team A -115 (+10)
Team B -105 (-10)
In the moneyline bet, if you bet on Team A and win, you'll make $330 from a $100 bet. If you bet on Team B and win, you need to spend $420 to make $100.
In the spread bet, you'll win $100 if you bet $115 on Team A and it defeats Team B by more than ten goals/points. You can also win $100 when you bet $105 on Team B as long as they don't lose by more than ten goals.
Popular Sports & Leagues to Bet on
Many new punters don’t look for the best sports to bet on because they start with their favourite game. However, some sports are known to have more lucrative markets and odds than others. Football, in the form of NFL and CFL betting, is a popular sports discipline in Canada. You can also bet on basketball, hockey, tennis, soccer, baseball, handball, volleyball, golf, MMA, F1, NASCAR, lacrosse, eSports, and several other games. Each sport has unique tournaments, championships and leagues. Here’s an overview of the top sports, leagues, and tournaments:
Football is a popular sport in North America and has millions of fans. The NFL season is electric, and many amateur players and students hope to participate. Events like the Super Bowl draw millions of global fans through streams.
Canadian football teams participate in the CFL (Canadian Football League), which is more like the NFL. Toronto Argonauts hold the record for the most Grey Cup championships at 18. NFL betting is more popular than the CFL, but you can find exciting matches, markets, and odds across both leagues.
Basketball is one of the popular sports to bet on, especially in North America, where the NBA is a phenomenon of its own. The National Basketball Association organizes NBA events across teams from Eastern and Western Conferences. The Toronto Raptors are the only Canadian team to participate in the NBA. They're also recent Championship holders after they won the 2019 NBA Finals. You can bet on various other events in the playoffs, play-in tournaments, and the six divisions within the NBA format. Basketball markets are available in all sportsbooks in Canada.
Major League Baseball (MLB) is the oldest major professional league in the world and features 30 teams divided between the National and American leagues. Only the Toronto Blue Jays come from Canada. The other 29 are from America. The Blue Jays boast two AL pennants and two World Series titles and carry the pride of many baseball lovers from Canada. You can find various baseball betting markets across Canadian sportsbooks. Teams battle each year for different cups, including the Commissioner’s Trophy, which is MLB’s championship trophy.
Hockey betting is another popular phenomenon in North America. The NHL is the ultimate league, comprising 32 teams, 7 of which come from Canada. Teams can win the prestigious Stanley Cup after the playoff or the President's Trophy for the most points in the season. NHL betting is perfect for fans of hockey all over the world. You can follow your top Canadian teams, including the Montreal Canadiens, the Vancouver Canucks, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Ice hockey is a popular event in North America, but you can find other hockey betting opportunities, including field hockey and bandy.
If you fancy betting on mixed martial arts fights, it doesn't get better than the UFC. Ultimate Fighting Championship is an elite pro league featuring top fighters worldwide. UFC betting offers an opportunity to back your favourite fighter in various events. There are nine unique UFC formats, including numbered events, fight nights, ultimate fighter finale, and events aired on ABC, ESPN, Fox, etc. The UFC organizes many events in Canada, and bookies feature fights from all over the world. You can bet on various preliminary cards and main events as fighters compete for the top prizes in the sport.
Other Sports & Tournaments
There are various other top sports to bet on in Canada. Most bookies offer tennis betting, featuring bets on famous tournaments like the Wimbledon Trophy, ATP, WTA, and other events. You can also enjoy F1 betting if you fancy racing events. Other popular sports include golf, boxing, volleyball, and rugby. Leading bookies offer dozens of sports disciplines to bet on.
Sports Betting Tips & Strategies
Strategies are crucial when learning how to bet on sports. Betting costs money, even if just for entertainment. You need the best experience, and mastering a few strategies can help you make the most of your time or win a lucrative prize. Here are top sports betting tips and strategies:
Find A Reputable Sportsbook
Stick to trusted sportsbooks with a legitimate license from Kahnawake, Ontario, the UK, Malta, Alderney, Curacao, or other credible regulators. You should bet real money on any sportsbook or casino with no verifiable license. Leading operators are licensed and follow all gambling standards/laws set by Canadian regulators.
Create A Betting Budget
Betting on sports may be entertaining but offers a higher potential for profitability than casino betting. Favourites will win many games throughout the season, so you can create a strategy to leverage those wins to cover all losses and produce a profit. Think of the long-term and decide on a betting budget to avoid spending more than necessary.
Stick To Games You Know
If you’re new to betting, you should start with games you understand. Take time to learn the games you don’t know and follow the events before betting. Games you know are much easier to analyze and predict. You also know more about the markets and odds, so you can easily find the best offers.
Do Your Homework Before Betting
Always do your homework before betting on sports. Find out if the sportsbook is legitimate, payment limits and fees, bonus wagering requirements, and payout duration. You should also research the teams, performances, key players, stats, and other relevant topics that affect match results.
Deploy Legal/Accepted Strategies
You can use various betting strategies like Arbitrage, but not all operators permit them. You should review the sportsbook's terms and conditions before you start betting. Make sure the bookie supports your betting strategy to avoid issues when it comes time to withdraw your winning.
Sportsbooks to Avoid ❌
Not all sportsbooks are created equal. Some are illegitimate ops designed for money laundering, while others are simply unreliable or have the worst odds. Avoid the following sportsbooks:
Sites without a valid gambling license
No SSL Certificates, malware scanners or other vital security features
Sites with scarce betting markets and options
Low betting odds
Many customer complaints
Slow or missing payments
Other Popular Types of Gambling
Sports betting is one of many forms of online gambling. You'll encounter a wide range of real money casino games, like slots, table games, video poker, live dealer shows, and more. You also have closer sports betting relatives like eSports and virtual sports. Here's an overview of the top sports betting alternatives:
Esports are competitive sports which involve playing virtual/video games. Popular eSports include League of Legends, Dota 2, CS: GO, and more. Esports events are organized throughout the year and feature millions of online viewers. You can wager on a player to win a match or the tournament and various other outcomes.
Casino betting features slot machines and treasure hints, table games like blackjack, roulette, baccarat, poker, keno, Sic Bo, and more. You can also explore bingo, scratchcards, lottery, and other instant-win games. Leading sportsbooks feature thousands of casino game titles from different software providers like NetEnt, Microgaming, Evolution, Pragmatic Play, Quickspin, RTG, BTG, iSoftBet, etc.
Live dealer games are a special type of casino games featuring a real human croupier in a real-life casino or special studio. Cameras capture the studio and players join in via webcams and can bet against the casino or each other. You can play live table games and other popular games like Monopoly, Deal or No Deal, etc.
Provincial Sports Betting Guide
Sports betting is legal in Canada, meaning punters from all parts of the country can make real money bets on professional sports outcomes. You can join an online sportsbook licensed in your province, another province, or another state/country. You break no law by signing up for an account with offshore bookmakers in Malta, the UK, the US, Curacao, and other places. However, some provinces have legal sports betting, featuring regulators who license operators and oversee the highest gambling standards are followed. Here's what you should know about provincial sports betting in Canada:
Ontario – The First Province with Regulated Market
Ontario is the first province that legalized single-game betting in Canada. The Ontario iGO works with AGCO (Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario) and the Government of Ontario to maintain specific gambling standards. Only eligible operators who meet provincial gambling requirements receive a license. The operators have many privileges, including advertising and offering sports betting markets and odds specifically for Ontario punters.
Some states, like British Columbia, have legalized single-game sports betting but only through the local PlayNow platform. You can also bet at Sports Action in New Westminster. It's the only retail sports betting outlet in the country. Sports betting isn't open to international regulators, but punters can bet wherever they want, including sites licensed offshore. Alberta has a similar model, where players are limited to the in-house PlayAlberta platform offered by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission. The province plans to unroll a “Limited Operator” model, so offshore operators may soon be coming to Alberta. We see the same model in Quebec, where punters can make single-game bets in-person or online via local platforms.
The Difference Between Licensed and Unlicensed Sites
Punters can bet wherever they like, including on offshore licensed bookies or unlicensed websites. So why is it important to find a licensed site? Sports betting is a form of real money gambling and can be addictive. Some operators can rig the random number generators or provide false games, markets, and odds. Governments with legal sports betting are keen to protect their citizens from scammers. A licensed sportsbook follows standards established by credible regulators and entities. Here are some of the key distinctions between licensed and unlicensed sites:
Licensed Sites Characteristics
Follow strict gambling standards to protect players
Offer legitimate sports events and markets
Feature competitive odds and bonuses
Are secure, user-friendly and fully optimized for smooth sports betting
Have transparent terms/conditions
Process payments on time
A licensed sportsbook has passed the vetting process established by the licenser. If you bet on sites licensed by the Ontario iGO, you'll enjoy an experience customized for local punters. Expect convenient payment methods, fast payouts, familiar sports, tournaments, betting markets, and exceptional customer service.
Unlicensed Sites Characteristics
You shouldn't join a site without a verifiable license. However, some unlicensed sites feature lucrative odds and extensive markets. You may also leverage huge bonuses and free bets. The tricky part is giving up your payment details and risking real money bets without the surety of receiving your winnings. There's no one to run to if the operator refuses to pay your winnings. Here are some characteristics associated with unlicensed sportsbooks:
Poor user experience design
Many unwanted ads and features
Lack of transparency in the terms
Huge bonuses with steep playthrough requirements
Slow payout processing
Poor customer service
Where can I bet on sports in Canada?
Where to bet on sports in Canada depends on what you’re looking for. You can find several bookmakers, including some licensed by the Ontario iGO, Kahnawake Gambling Commission, Malta Gaming Authority, UKGC, Curacao, etc. We recommend trusted sportsbooks with a legitimate license, top-notch security, and extensive sports coverage and betting markets.
What is a prop bet in sports betting?
If you're new to betting, a prop bet is one of the most exciting markets you'll encounter. Prop bets allow you to bet on little events and outcomes within the match. For instance, you can bet on a player to score a certain number of goals or points in a soccer or basketball match.
Which sports events can I bet on?
You can bet on various sports and markets, depending on your preferences. Whether you fancy betting on boxing, football, basketball, baseball, hockey, or UFC, bookies have you covered. You'll find dozens of disciplines and thousands of markets to bet on every week.
Which is the best sports betting site?
No single sports betting site is the best for every player. You need a site that suits your needs. Some punters want the best new betting sites, while others seek free bets and top bonuses. Make sure the site is licensed, secure, and user-friendly. You can also look for convenient payments, fast payouts, and 24/7 customer support.
What is a parlay bet in sports betting?
A parlay bet refers to a combination of different bets on different outcomes. You can build same-game parlays, which involve betting on two markets from the same game, like Team A winning and Player X to score X amount of goals/points. You can also build parlays across multiple games and events.
Which sports betting features are the best?
You need a sportsbook with many useful features. Looking for betting apps, live betting, live streaming, early cashout, parlay builders, bet builders, and odds boosts. The feature set varies from site to site. Leading bookies have the core features and make betting effortless.
How to withdraw my winnings?
Withdrawing funds won from betting on sports is no harder than cashing out casino winnings. If you won with a bonus, make sure you’ve met the playthrough requirements. If you won with a deposit, proceed to request a withdrawal through the cashier. You should also read the banking information for limits and other requirements like KYC verification.