Will Sports Betting Ever Become Legal in Canada?

In 2015, three major sporting events were hosted in Canada. The first was the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which was followed by the CONCACAF Gold Cup and the Pan American Games. These events brought about plenty of discussion on the topic of revenue, which was certainly welcomed by federal and provincial officials. Meanwhile, however, lawmakers pondered on what to do with Bill C-290, which would finally legalize single-sports betting in Canada.

betting in Canada

The Current Status of Sports Betting in Canada

As of early August 2015, Bill C-290 had passed the House of Commons but was languishing in the Senate. Even by Canadian legislative standards, this bill has moved at a glacial pace since March 2012. At one point, the National Basketball Association (NBA) opposed the bill, but later changed its position when sports betting in the United States seemed to be moving towards limited legalization in some states.

In Canada, placing bets on sports is only allowed through the parlay system on a limited number of games. Aside from parlays and private bets between two individuals, sports betting in Canada is mentioned in the Criminal Code as a punishable offense. Unlike the United States, however, Canadian enforcement of this provision is lax.

Many Canadian fans of sports wagering simply take their funds and action offshore. They may place their bets through sportsbooks based in Costa Rica, and they don’t have to worry too much about a tactical team raiding their homes in the midst of placing bets on a hockey game, a situation which is not uncommon in the U.S.

What Bill C-290 is trying to do is find some common ground to allow the provincial gaming regulators such as Loto Quebec and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp to legally get into the business of bookmaking.