As the sports betting industry continues to change and evolve, it’s important to keep up to date with the various aspects of society that affect gambling. In this article, we will breakdown the landscape of sports betting in Canada, it’s laws and how to navigate the growing list available of sportsbook providers.
Topics in our Complete Guide to Betting in Canada
Sports betting and taxes
How to bet legally in Canada
Dos and Don’t of the best sports betting sites
Is sports betting legal in Canada?
History of sports betting laws in Canada
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Gambling has been present in Canadian culture for a long time. Going back as far as the natives, in the late 1400s’ when playing cards were first introduced and games like Blackjack and Poker were developing. As well as card games, table games like dice and checkers. With the recent addition of single-game betting in Canada, we can expect these traditions to grow.
Having been an underground event for a long time, gambling was finally brought to the government’s attention in the late 1800s’. The government came in with the express intention of regulating gambling, but also to try to slow and eventually stop underground and illegal gambling rings.
Canadian Criminal Code
Just before the turn of the century, in 1892, the Canadian Criminal Code was enacted. This bill changed the course of gambling in the country and added many restrictions, which were not previously present. The introduction of the Criminal Code allowed pari-mutuel betting for horse racing. These laws were rather loose, which meant many Canadians were continuing to gamble much as they were before.
Provinces have power
But, by the 1970s’ the laws had been ironed out, as laws progressed well over the years. As of today, the government has allowed provinces to manage their own gambling laws, allowing them to control the land-based betting facilities in their respective provinces.
Online gambling is #1
While this is relevant, the bulk of the gambling done in Canada, and indeed anywhere else in the world, is done online. Provinces may review or even intervene in certain circumstances. But, for the most part, online gambling is left down to the individual to regulate
Often a grey area for many, Canadian taxing regarding gambling is quite simple. The simple answer is no - Canadians do not have to pay taxes on gambling winnings from any kind of gambling; horse racing (racebooks), sports betting, lotteries, online casinos and any other tables games.
The complication comes when bettors begin to earn interest on any winnings made. In this situation, you must legally declare any interest made on winnings via a governmental T5 form. While this is true, this all depends on the winnings, the amount varies which means the law applies differently in some cases to others.
Another factor worth considering is whether or not the bettor declares Canada as their primary residence. Players should check with their local tax attorney because each province has specific tax codes that must be applied to these types of funds. The final thing to consider is whether the bettor is a professional involved in the sports markets they’re betting on. For example, a professional poker player must declare this and not state that they play for leisure.
Best Sports to bet in Canada
NHL - The NHL is the biggest mainstream American sports league in Canada, featuring 7 Canadian teams now playing in the league it certainly has a huge following.
NBA - The Toronto Raptors won the 2019 NBA title and showed that Canadian basketball is serious. As such, the NBA has an army of fans and some top talent emerging in teams throughout the league.
NFL - As the biggest American sports league, the NFL commands a huge following in Canada. A long history of sporting excellence has created a large number of sports fans North of the border.
CFL - The league is growing and with that, the fanbase is growing. bookmakers haven't ignored this and are starting to improve the range of betting markets and odds available for weekly games.
UFC - Now when you think combat sports, it's the UFC. Boxing has taken a side seat to Dana White's empire. With stars like George-Saint Pierre becoming UFC icons, it makes it a popular market in Canada.
Formula 1 - The Canadian Grand Prix has really cemented the sport in Canadian culture, which is something the bookmakers have recognized and now offer a great range of betting markets.
Horse Racing - Horse racing is popular across the globe. Whether you're in Canada or Saudi Arabia, it's all the same. Some great markets are available in Canada.
Curling - A sport that is highly popular in Scandanavia, Scotland and Canada, with some of the major tournaments taking place here. Sportsbooks offer some great betting lines for Curling.
How often do the gambling laws in Canada change?
Gambling laws in Canada have recently had a major change. In August of 2021, the Canadian government began to allow single-game sports betting. previously, you had to make a parlay or go to an online offshore sportsbook. Different provinces can choose how and when to implement this change.
Check provincial laws
Well, It’s important to examine the particular province you intend on gambling in first, as reviewing the Canadian gambling laws will not provide the bettor with the full picture. There are laws that govern gambling in the country on the whole, but for the most part, provincial law is what dictates how citizens can bet.
Was it ever illegal?
A common question among betting purists in Canada, who wonder is gambling illegal in Canada? Well, if you’re a player these days you’ll be acutely aware of the legality of gambling. But, if we look back in time, have things ever been different?
Like many aspects of society in the first half of the 1990s’, there were some unsavoury characters running a lot of organized betting in the country. Anytime before the introduction of a Criminal Code for gambling in 1970, gambling was illegal in Canada.
How to bet on sports in Canada
There are two main avenues to go down as a bettor wondering how to bet on sports in Canada. The first is the national PRO-Line betting, which is a popular past-time for many Canadians who are yet to move onto online sportsbook betting.
While the latter is far more popular and generally a better option to bettors in the country, the fact that certain areas of the country are so cut off from society means they are late to adapt to new trends. As such, it’s allowed PRO-Line betting to maintain popularity among the population and still functions as one of the premier sports betting options, even though online sports betting providers are significantly better in almost all aspects of the service they provide.
The second option is to choose from one of the many recommended sportsbooks available to Canadians online. Online sportsbooks are rigorously regulated and ensure a safe and convenient betting experience for users.
Types of sports bets
Each sports betting market will have a variety of betting options, with some of the more exotic prop bets available throughout the year. The staple bets that a player will find for any sports market are as follows:
A Moneyline bet is the most common bet and easiest to wager with. A Moneyline bet simply means betting on a team or individual to win.
Over/Under bets are designed to allow players to wager on the outcome of the score or a figure in a particular game. For example, one might wager on the SuperBowl on Over 45.5 points, which means in order for the bet to payout the combined score of both teams must be 46 or more.
Spread betting is also very common and involves who wins and by how much. A bettor will wager on a value within the game, which could be a score, to see if the team or individual reaches that goal.
A futures bet is placed on the outcome of a series, season or championship rather than what happens in an individual match. E.g. you can make a futures bet on the Super Bowl champion anytime during the season, and each team's odds will reflect their performance and ranking.
NHL's version of MLB's runlines, which level the playing field by giving the underdog (typically) a 1.5 goal headstart
Prop bets, or proposition bets, are made regarding events which are not directly connected to the final outcome of the event.
Which are our top-rated sportsbooks in Canada?
Powerplay: Arguably the most popular sportsbook in Canada, offering a broad range of betting options, markets and features a great user-interface that really adds to the overall PowerPlay betting experience.
One of the major concerns for online sportsbook newcomers is to do with security. While we’ve recommended some of the top-tier sportsbook providers already, it seems only fair to make potential users aware of some of the sportsbooks to avoid. It’s always worth checking out the sportsbook you’re planning to deposit with to see if they are legitimate. An example of a sportsbook worth avoiding isTopBet, who has proven to be untrustworthy in the past.
Legal online sports betting
Online sports betting really took off around the turn of the century, when sportsbooks were part of the mad-rush to gain an online presence. Many of the major betting retailers, who previously did business via land-based betting, were trying to be the biggest in online sports betting.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of options to choose from and customers from all over the world are signing up to providers in the ever-growing network of online sports betting. The main alternative to online betting in Canada is to use PRO-Line, which although it is a convenient service for many, it’s outdated and doesn’t provide anywhere near the quality of service the aforementioned sportsbooks do.
As such, if any Canadian citizen has access to the internet and a mobile phone, they can access the best premium betting markets out there. Many of the top-tier providers have developed excellent user-friendly betting apps, allowing users to access the markets anytime anyplace.
Legal offline sports betting
Much like betting online, offline betting, or land-based betting, is highly popular in Canada. Almost every state has a casino or land-based betting facility of some kind available to residents. While the online betting industry is thriving and is projected to continue to grow in the coming years, there is a clear demand for casinos.
As long as there is a demand for casinos, they will remain popular as we’ve seen in the U.S., which has a thriving online sports betting industry. While there may be high demand for offline betting facilities, the convenience and simplicity of online betting will eventually infiltrate the wider audience in Canada. The use of mobile betting apps and the broad range of betting options available through online providers means that ultimately it’s better to play online.
One of the great things about legal betting sites in Canada is that they are swift and secure. Bettors can deposit money and wager without having to worry about the possibility of being scammed.
Another important point to make here is the fact online sportsbook providers allow users to deposit and play the markets with almost total anonymity. While this isn’t a necessity for some, many players prefer not to reveal sensitive information when depositing money - something that is commonplace nowadays.
Another aspect of online gaming which is noteworthy is the responsible gaming measures used by the major sportsbook providers. As well as providing a number of customer service options to customers struggling with gaming addiction, they also provide an array of information to help bettors combat overspending.
Sportsbooks need to be transparent, providing the odds and markets that bettors want. But at the same time, giving them the information they need to maximize their betting experience. Access to promotions and offers, understanding the dangers posed by online sports betting and providing useful information and a help service are all part of what connects legal betting sites in Canada.
At this point, it’s also worth noting that there are many sportsbooks out there, some of which are illegitimate. In any case, always go with recommended providers, ensuring your money is safe and your experience is as good as can be!
How to play Casino games
Similar to the popularity garnered by physical casinos in Canada, online casinos are also a very popular option. There is a growth in the number of online casino providers, so we compiled a list of the top-tier online casinos available in Canada.
Why Go to Vegas?
Play casino at home!
Other Sports betting resources in Canada
The experts here at Canada Sports Betting are committed to providing all the assets necessary to get the very most out of a wager. We have created a number of tools and guides to make the first few steps that bit easier.
Best Sportsbooks in Canada
For a list of the top-tier sportsbooks available to Canadian bettors, take a look at our complete guide. The list includes some of the smaller, newer sportsbooks as well as the well-established more reputable providers.
As we mentioned before, it’s important to recognize that each Canadian province has the ability to create their own betting laws. While, for the most part, the laws are generally the same, they’re worth checking out on our dedicated section.
For new bettors, looking at the range of odds, markets and betting options can be very confusing. For those that aren’t yet accustomed to odds and gambling, take a look at our odds guide for all the information you need.
It’s worth noting that there are three types of odds available; American, Decimal and Fractional. Often sportsbooks will display their odds in one format, so it’s worth learning more about them. We’ve created an odds calculator to make life easier!
Where to find a complete guide for betting in Canada?
So you’ve decided to try online betting in Canada! Well, the next part is easy. There are hundreds of sportsbooks providers to choose from - follow our sports betting guide for the very best sportsbooks available in Canada.
Has sports betting always been legal in Canada?
Not always. A law was first passed in 1970 which allowed for sports betting in Canada. As well as this, there each province has the right to govern betting on a province-by-province basis.
What’s the difference between online and offline betting?
Online betting refers to the use of a computer or mobile device to places bets through an online sportsbook,casino, racebook or by other means. While offline betting refers to placing bets in a betting establishment, such as a casino or bookies.
What connects good sportsbooks?
A good quality sportsbook is easy to spot; one which is registered with a regulatory body, one which provides a range of betting services, one which ensures safety and security when betting and a sportsbook that provides a good quality of customer service. Any sportsbook adds to the overall betting experience, providing a quality site with first-rate service throughout.
What connects bad sportsbooks?
There are some bad sportsbooks out there and it’s important to be vigilant when selecting one to play with. Unregistered websites, that are poorly put together giving you a feeling of unease as you navigate the site. Always go with a recommended sportsbook.
Is PRO-Line betting still available in Canada?
PRO-Line betting is a pastime in Canada and still commands a broad customer base. Many provinces in the country are yet to adapt to online sports betting, as such PRO-Line remains a popular choice.
What are the most common types of odds available for Canadians?
There are three main types of odds that a bettor will find at any sportsbook. These are American (-500), Fractional (1/5) and Decimal (1.20), which may look very different but they mean the same thing. Often sportsbook will give the option to select which type of odds you want to be displayed.
Where can Canadians find the best sportsbooks available for them?
As the number of online sportsbooks continues to grow, it can leave bettors wondering where’s best to go for odds. Well, there is no right answer. We’d advise following one of the recommended sportsbook guides and choose from one of the established top-tier providers.
What are the best sportsbooks for Canadian provinces?
It’s difficult to say which is the “best” sportsbook. But, we can certainly recommend some of the very best out there today. The likes of PowerPlay and Sports Interaction (SIA) arepremium providers and have a huge gambling community dedicated to their services.
Can I play casino games at my favorite sportsbooks?
The vast majority of sportsbooks offer a casino as a feature of their website. However, this isn’t always the case. So to make life easier, the experts here at Canada Sports Betting put together a list of the best casinos available at sportsbooks today.