Mark Your Calendars: Canada Single-Event Sports Betting to Go Live on August 27

  • C-218 received Royal Assent on June 30, legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada
  • Each province can decide whether or not they want to allow the activity
  • British Columbia will go live on August 27, while Ontario and Alberta will be ready later in 2021
  • Canadians currently wager billions per year with offshore bookmakers
  • Betting operators have already been positioning themselves for when the date arrives
Woman wearing a red maple leaf headband and holding small Canadian flag
Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti announced that single-event sports betting can begin on August 27. [Image:]

Everyone was waiting for the word

About a month and a half after a bill ending the federal ban on single-event sports betting received Royal Assent, we finally have a date when sportsbooks can start taking bets: August 27. On Thursday, Justice Minister David Lametti announced the date, two weeks from tomorrow, as the time when Bill C-218 can go into effect.

the ability to offer single-event sports betting will be a tremendous benefit to Canadian gaming operators”

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) had previously criticized the government for dragging its feet on the formality of setting a date. But on Thursday, the trade organization cheered the moment, saying: “From an economic standpoint, having the ability to offer single-event sports betting will be a tremendous benefit to Canadian gaming operators and the communities where they operate, as most importantly it will allow them to create new jobs.”

It is now up to the provinces if they want to legalize sports betting within their borders, and in all likelihood, all or most will. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) had already been carrying the flag for single-event sports betting and has said that its site, PlayNow, will be ready to go on the effective date. Similarly, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) will launch single event options on Play Alberta, but that will likely be in the fall.

Ontario, the most coveted province in the market because of its population, plans to launch single-event sports betting later in the year. Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) released a draft of regulations in July and is currently accepting operator applications.

Billions to be made

At first blush, the legalization of “single-event” sports betting might not seem like that big of a deal, but it most certainly is. Sports betting was already technically legal in Canada, but in a very restricted form. People could only place parlay bets, combining three or more events into one wager. Parlay bets are more complicated and more difficult to win than single-event bets, and therefore not as popular.

Now, people will be free to engage in more traditional betting, picking a game on which they want to bet and actually doing it without having to tie that game to others. As mentioned, though, it is still up to each province as to whether or not they want to allow the activity.

experts also estimate that Canadians bet CA$14.5bn (US$11.6bn) overall

It is estimated that Canadians place CA$500m (US$399.5) worth of parlay bets each year, but experts also estimate that Canadians bet CA$14.5bn (US$11.6bn) overall. Thus, billions upon billions in wagers are going to sportsbooks outside the country. Single-event legalization will keep most of that money home.

Operators are standing by

In anticipation of Canada’s floodgates opening, sports betting operators have been jockeying for position. In February, DraftKings and the NFL extended their existing daily fantasy sports partnership into Canada, a move clearly designed to establish DraftKings for sports betting.

Penn National Gaming just last week announced that it has agreed to acquire Toronto-based Score Media and Gaming for $2bn as it looks to expand northward. Also expanding is PointsBet, which set up a new leadership team in Canada.

And in June, BetMGM announced that it signed arguably the most famous Canadian of all time, NHL legend Wayne Gretzky, as a brand ambassador.

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