Five things to know about Canadian sports betting

The Canadian sports betting market is about to create its first openings for privately-owned sportsbook companies. Ontario is finalizing industry rules that would allow sportsbooks like DraftKings, BetMGM, and Caesars Sportsbook to apply for sports betting licenses. Other major Canadian igaming markets are expected to make similar changes. But until then, lottery-run sportsbooks are the only legal sportsbooks in Canada.

Big changes are coming to Canadian sports betting. Here are five things that bettors need to know about Canada’s sports betting industry overhauls and what this means for Ontario sports betting.

Single-Event Sports Betting Is Canada’s Big Change

Sports betting has been legal in Canada since 1985. However, bettors have only been able to make parlay bets. Moneylines, point spreads, and over/unders were illegal until 2021. Parlay bets also had a minimum number of legs that bettors were required to build their parlays with. So, bettors who made legal wagers through the Canadian Lottery Corporations were usually throwing away money.

Canadian bettors turned to black and gray market operators in droves. Bettors spent an estimated $10 billion annually at black market operators and $4 billion annually at gray market operators. So, single-event sports betting was a big deal for Canadians.

Canada’s $11 Billion Legal Sports Betting Industry

The black and gray markets have siphoned most of Canada’s sports betting revenue away. However, Canada’s legal sports betting industry is an estimated $11 billion. So, allowing single-event sports betting will attract bettors to legal sportsbooks and generate new revenue for Canada’s provinces. Now that the most popular wagers are available to Canadian bettors, Canadian sportsbooks have a chance to chip away at black and gray market business.

Canada’s Lottery Corporations Run Canadian Sports Betting

The only legal sportsbooks in Canada are the lottery-run sportsbooks. Each Canadian province has its own lottery corporation. In some of the smaller gaming markets, one lottery corporation operates in multiple provinces. However, there’s still only one lottery corporation in each of those provinces. (The Atlantic Lottery Corporation is the lottery corporation for four provinces, but it’s the only lottery corporation in each of those four provinces.) Despite speculation about changing igaming regulations, it’s critical to remember that the lottery-run sportsbooks are the only legal sportsbooks in Canada.

Canada’s Lottery-Run Sportsbooks Got A Massive Update

After Bill C-218 passed, Canada’s lottery-run sportsbooks revamped themselves. They used to look like late-90s sites where bettors had to print tickets off to submit parlay bets at retail locations. However, single-event sports betting forced the lottery-run sportsbooks to change. Bettors who log into PROLINE+ will log into what looks like a modern online sportsbook. It offers game lines, futures, and prop bets like any other private-run sportsbook. (Although, its sport selection is smaller than DraftKings or FanDuel.) So, Canadians who remember the old sportsbooks should revisit the lottery-run sportsbooks. They’re finally built to compete in a modern igaming market.

Provinces Can Choose Whether To Legalize Commercial Sports Betting

Sports betting is available in every Canadian province through lottery-run sportsbooks. However, Ontario is drafting rules that could allow private companies to apply for sports betting licenses. Ontario’s regulations were likely influenced by competitive igaming industries at their borders, like Michigan, Pennsylvania, and soon, New York. But Ontario is currently the only Canadian province or territory with that rulemaking process in the works.

Since Ontario is opening the door to private-run sportsbook companies, sportsbooks, analysts, and bettors are expecting British Columbia and Quebec to follow suit. However, neither province has begun such a process yet. They can still choose not to if they don’t want to foster competition among igaming companies like Ontario does. There’s a lot of speculation and excitement about what other provinces might do. But Ontario is the only province currently considering opening up its sports betting industry to private companies.

Canada’s Sports Betting Transformations

Canadian sportsbooks have already gone through major transformations. They’ve gone from poor-quality sites to modern sportsbooks. They offer popular game lines, futures, and prop bets. However, there’s still exciting change to come. Ontario could open its sports betting industry to popular private-run companies like DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM. Other provinces are expected to follow suit but have not made any moves to do so yet.

Lottery-run sportsbooks are finally built to compete with black and gray market operators. There are billions of dollars in betting handle to be processed and millions of dollars in tax revenue to be collected. Canada is entering a new age of sports betting and igaming, and Ontario is at the forefront of that metamorphosis.