Betting Legislation in the US vs North of The Border: A Comparison of America and Canada’s Legalisation Journey

By: MRT Desk

Published on:

Betting Legislation in the US vs North of The Border

Sports betting legislation has rapidly evolved in North America over the past decade. While Canada and the United States have both made strides towards legalisation, their journeys differ considerably. This article examines and compares the betting landscape in these neighbouring nations.

United States: Overturning a Federal Ban

Up until 2018, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) banned sports betting nationwide except in Nevada. This federal law prevented states from legalising wagering. That changed in May 2018 when the Supreme Court overturned PASPA, ruling it unconstitutional. This monumental decision gave individual states the authority to legalise sports betting.

Many states quickly jumped at the opportunity. As of 2024, over 30 states now offer legal sports betting in some form, with more on the way. However, the state-by-state approach results in a complex patchwork of policies across the country.

New Jersey led the legalisation charge, challenging PASPA all the way to the Supreme Court. The state wanted to revitalise struggling casino and racetrack industries by adding sportsbooks. Their victory opened the floodgates. Many states legalised online betting, which greatly expanded market access. Mobile wagering accounts for over 80% of U.S. betting activity. This surged adoption.

Various state models exist. Some states like Oregon only offer lottery-based sports betting. Others allow commercial operators to compete for licences. Different tax rates and product regulations apply. State compacts are emerging to pool player liquidity between markets. However, complex rules around registration and geolocation create a fragmented experience for bettors crossing state lines.

Canada: Gradually Expanding Provincial Programs

Unlike America’s outright federal ban, Canada has maintained provincial government control of gambling since the 1900s. This decentralised model allows each province to regulate gaming including lottery, casinos, and sports betting.

Most provinces offered some form of sports lotteries dating back decades. However, traditional parlay tickets through lottery corporations provided limited betting options compared to full-scale sportsbooks.

Recently, several provinces have expanded sports betting products and access. Private operators are now entering markets alongside provincial lottery providers. Canada is gradually enhancing its sports betting capabilities coast-to-coast through provincial governance.

Provincial lottery corporations like Loto-Quebec and BCLC have offered parlay-style sports betting for years. This funding goes to public programs. However, product innovation lagged illegal offshore books.

Many provinces now allow single-game wagers, props, and live betting through lotteries or private operators under provincial licensing. Mobile sportsbook apps provide 24/7 convenience.

Federal criminal code changes now officially allow single-game betting. Provinces control implementation but cooperation makes seamless nation-wide betting a future possibility.

Ontario, Alberta, and Manitoba are leading expansion efforts. However, some provinces remain limited to lottery parlay products. Canada advances at an uneven pace despite provincial alignment.

Key Contrast: State vs Provincial Jurisdiction

The core divergence between the U.S. and Canada involves jurisdiction. Overturning PASPA in America paved the way for states to independently legalise and regulate sports betting. This results in disjointed policies between neighbouring states.

Meanwhile, Canada’s existing provincial control model integrates new betting opportunities into existing governing frameworks. Nationwide oversight aims to ensure consistency cross-province as they allow legal access to citizens to play on PowerPlay in Canada.

While America races towards widespread betting, state variations cause fragmentation. Canada takes a more unified approach through inter-provincial cooperation.

The U.S. market features fierce competition between commercial operators. States themselves compete to maximise tax revenue. This accelerated growth but with mismatched state-level policies.

Canada allows each province to control betting, but national alignment through regular meetings and information sharing unifies the landscape. Consistent guardrails guide expansion.

Pan-Canadian committees and working groups enable collaboration between provinces. Best practices spread, benefiting programs nationwide.  Central IT infrastructure is shared.

Provincial control in Canada also ensures responsible gambling standards are upheld as markets open. Consumer protections remain consistent across jurisdictions.

In the U.S., an operator’s app might work seamlessly in one state but geo-fence the next. State compacts aim to ease this fragmentation going forward.

Post-PASPA: Sports Betting Explodes in the U.S.

America’s appetite for sports betting became evident as soon as the federal ban was lifted. States saw potential tax revenue and responded quickly. Many states allow online betting, which greatly expands market access versus just brick-and-mortar sportsbooks. Competing private operators drive innovation and marketing.

However, states like Texas and California still prohibit betting despite public demand. And some states only allow in-person wagering. The state-based patchwork creates an uneven playing field. New Jersey now generates over $1 billion in monthly sports betting handle, rivalling Nevada. Mobile betting makes wagering seamless there.

Yet in Washington State, sports betting remains limited to in-person tribal casinos with no online option. Adoption lags as a result. Progressive states like Colorado allow betting kiosks in convenience stores. But others require in-person registration before mobile access. State rules vastly differ. Tax rates fluctuate between states depending on public revenue needs. Rates above 10% deter operators. This balance remains a work in progress.

While America charges ahead, some major population centres lack access. Disjointed state policies mean uneven offerings and consumer experiences.

Canada Focuses on Responsible Growth

While America rapidly expanded betting options after PASPA, Canada is taking a more measured approach within existing frameworks.

Provincial control allows coordinating policies on responsible gambling, age limits, security, and licensing across regions. Canada also limits promotion and advertising to avoid over-commercialization.

Critics argue this controlled approach limits market competitiveness and innovation. But Canada emphasises regulated growth aligned with public and consumer protection objectives.

Emerging Provincial Partnerships

Some Canadian provinces are now modernising their models through public-private partnerships. Private sportsbook operators provide platforms, products and marketing under provincial oversight.

Ontario recently launched a regulated sports betting market with private firms like DraftKings. Alberta also partners with major operators. This approach merges provincial control with private-sector energy.

As Canada bolsters sports betting, the dual public and private path aims to enhance consumer choice while ensuring responsible practices under provincial policy leadership.

Finally

America and Canada both continue expanding sports betting access, but their frameworks differ significantly. Canada’s provincial control approach features more nationwide cohesion but less rapid growth. The U.S. offers a thriving competitive marketplace, although state variations cause fragmentation. Both models carry advantages as sports betting evolves in these neighbouring nations.

Leave a Comment