How to enjoy sports betting in Canada: All the legal possibilities

Sports betting has grown in popularity across the world of late, and Canada is no exception. Nothing’s better for getting involved in the game than pitting your expendable income on your favourite players. Of course, there are no guarantees that you’ll win, but when you’re using money you can afford to lose, that only increases the thrill a decent bet can bring!

In years gone by, it was this betting atmosphere that made live games so thrilling, and with the rise of online betting, it’s now possible to enjoy that same excitement when watching from home. The trouble is that Canadian online sports betting remains a gray area for many fans. This is in large part because many big-name online sportsbooks haven’t focused their efforts towards a Canadian audience. What’s more, it’s no secret that the laws around online sports betting in the US are complicated. As such, many North American players are nervous that the same limitations may apply to their Canadian efforts.

The reality is that Canadian sports betting is a much more open field, and it’s only growing in popularity. If you are planning a funny betting weekend in Toronto to help you get started, we’re going to answer some of the pressing questions that might be stopping you from getting stuck in right now.

Is sports betting legal in Canada?

This is, of course, the most pressing question. No one wants to end up on the wrong side of the law, after all, and you may be reluctant to place any bets before you can answer this. Admittedly, Canada’s sports betting laws can be tricky to navigate, but they aren’t as restrictive as you might imagine.

Confusion here comes mainly from an outdated law passed in 1982 that made all forms of betting illegal in Canadian borders. Luckily amendments to Canada’s criminal code in the 1990s means that law no longer stands, making slot machines, casinos, and sports betting legal.

As it stands, sports betting laws are governed by the federal government, though they do share governing power with ten provincial governments throughout Canada including Ontario. This is really where things get complicated.

Each province currently has its own sports betting laws, with regulations in place under sidelines of the ALC like Pro-Line. The main thing you need to know about legally betting under these regulations is that you can’t place single-game bets. Instead, you must place parlay bets, which mean betting on two or more games each time. But, hey; can you really complain about laws that stand to earn you more?

Canada vs online sports betting in the US

On the surface, it can seem like Canadian sports betting laws aren’t all that different from those regulating online sports betting in the US, but that isn’t the case. While Canada does have a federal sports betting law like the US, provincial governments in Canada also have control over sports betting rules within their jurisdiction. This allows for provinces like Ontario to offer ‘sports betting lotteries’ to their residents, though single-game betting is still strictly prohibited. That said, ripples in Ontario legislature suggest that even this outdated law could soon change for the better, making sports betting legality easier to understand and more accessible for everyone.

How to judge whether a sportsbook is available in Canada

The main legality issues with Canadian sports betting come from accidental off-shore play that doesn’t fall within legislation. To keep sports betting legal, then, it’s always best to look for on-shore regulated sportsbooks you can trust. Luckily, there are some simple ways to judge whether a sportsbook is available to Canadian players.

In some cases, restrictions will be made clear the moment you visit a site. If you are unsure, contacting customer services to check for a Canadian license is your best chance at legal play. To be on the safe side, the Canada-approved best online sportsbooks at the moment include –

Bodog: Offers welcome bonus up to $200
MyBookie: $25 free bet
Pinnacle Sports: 60% higher stake limit than competitors

Sport-specific betting in Canada

Even once you have a sportsbook in mind, you might also want to dive into individual rules for some sport-specific bets, as these can also impact legality. Basketball: Does not permit wagering on games within Ontario lottery, but parlay cards are offered within provinces that don’t host NBA games.

Hockey: No issues with activity in Canada, and some teams even participate with province lotteries.

Baseball: No problems with betting on games in Ontario etc. American football: remains largely opposed to sports betting

How to sign up and place bets

Once you know the best online sportsbooks and the sports you can trust, it’s time to think about how exactly you sign up and start placing bets. Signing up obviously varies depending on the sportsbook of your choice, but there are some standards that remain across the board.

You will, of course, need to fill a form that lets sportsbooks know precisely who you are. This should be simple enough to answer, though you will need to include details such as your email address, phone number, and actual address. Once you’ve completed that form, you’ll need to get your ID out, as well as confirming that email address to show you haven’t given a dud. At this stage, you’ll also be able to select $CAD as your standard currency, making sure that betting is an easy process for you moving forward.

Once you’re all official and accepted, it’s time to start placing those bets. This is the fun part, and it’s also a lot simpler than you probably expect. All you need to do is select your sport from a sportsbook's A-Z listing, then start to combine your parlay. Remember, you must make at least two or more bets, so be sure that you spread your funds wisely to account for this. Then, sit back and (hope) that your money comes back to you looking a lot heftier than it did when you placed those bets in the first place!