Until recently, online gambling was illegal at a federal level in Canada with the exception of specific geographies where jurisdiction over gambling has been handed to the native peoples of those areas.
Despite this, Canadians still frequently used online casinos and online sports betting sites. They get around restrictions by signing up to illegal underground operators on the black market or by turning to the grey market. The grey market is a term given to casinos and sports bookmakers that operate legally in their own regulated jurisdiction abroad and are accessed from Canada. Thus, they don’t own a license to provide gambling services in Canada, but residents still use these sites from afar.
Single-event sports bets are now legal
However, the Canadian Federal Government has updated its gambling laws and now allows residents to place bets on individual sporting events, essentially making an elementary form of sports betting legal. This is when the gambler places a bet on a single event, such as the outcome of the Super Bowl or the winner of a Stanley Cup match.
Canada is viewed as an exciting territory for online casino gambling and sports betting, with many established brands jostling to penetrate a market that is slowly opening up. This is why Bwin, one of Europe’s most trusted online betting platforms, is entering the Canadian market and will look to solidify the brand in 2022.
Motivation to legalise sports betting
The Canadian Government estimates that around $10 billion is already being wagered on the black market, with a further $4 billion spent on the grey market. And they are now suggesting it makes sense to start making some degree of sports gambling legal to make the activity safer and recover money lost on taxes from overseas providers not having to pay tax. Another motivation to legalise some sports betting is to redivert money going to organised criminals and gangs who often operate illegal casinos in Canada.
The new law is officially called Bill C-218. It was brought into contention by Kevin Waugh of the Conservative Party. And despite Bill C-218 proposed by a member of the opposition in parliament, it was waved through by all four main political groups. As of August 27, Bill C-218 has been finalised and implemented, making sports betting in Canada finally legal – to some extent.
What happens next?
As of now, Canadian residents and citizens can place sports bets through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. However, it is assumed that those using the grey market will continue to do so, especially if they have built up trust and a relationship with an overseas bookmaker. Others may now feel it is safer to start betting with legal vendors in Canada and make the switch.
Many experts suggest opening the market wider and allowing overseas bookmakers into the Canadian gambling industry will always be the best way of recovering lost taxes and preventing criminal activities.