Sports & Casino: Luke Garrison
Luke Garrison is a professional writer who grew up just outside of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He currently works at the Canadian Press and enjoys the outdoors in his free time.
More specifically, each province now has the power to legalize single-game sports betting. Commercial sportsbooks have been preparing to enter the Canadian market for quite some time, but many provinces haven’t opened that door yet.
Read on to learn more about the ramp up of online sports betting within each province in Canada.
Ontario is a natural place to start as it’s the farthest along. The province officially launched online commercial sports betting on April 4th, 2022, with several virtual books available to Ontarians from that day onwards including DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, and others.
This is significant as commercial sportsbooks have not yet been regulated in any other province. Ontario took things a step further as well, creating iGaming Ontario to officially oversee and govern online gambling on behalf of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
Online sports betting is also available to Ontarians via ‘PROLINE+’ on the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corporation (OLG) website, for those who prefer to wager on sports through the Ontario government’s official sports betting platform.
Alberta has looked to be on the verge of establishing commercial sportsbook partnerships for quite some time now, but nothing has been announced yet. Sports betting became available via PlayNow Alberta in August of 2021, and the government-run sportsbook is still the sole legal provider.
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has expressed interest in allowing commercial sportsbooks to hold provincial gambling licenses in the past. Operators were even invited to submit proposals in early 2022, but the deadline passed and there’s been no further mention of it.
Like Alberta, British Columbia’s only online sports betting option is PlayNow.com – owned and operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Unlike Alberta, current B.C. lawmakers haven’t expressed much of a desire to allow commercial sportsbooks. This may only change if political power shifts.
Manitoba, like B.C. and Alberta, launched PlayNow Manitoba in August of 2021. It is spearheaded by the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corporation (MBLL), and the organization has expressed an interest in eventually expanding to allow commercial sportsbooks.
The Québecois have been known to stand by their own, and that’s exactly what has happened following the August 2021 legalization. Québec official gaming corporation, Loto-Québec, has been accepting parlay bets for close to 20 years via the platform ‘Mise-o-jeu’. That’s unlikely to change any time soon.
Saskatchewan actually did not launch single-game online sports betting in any capacity until November of 2022. What remained the same, however, was the province’s choice to use the PlayNow.com platform.
With a population just north of 1 million residents, there may not be much incentive for some commercial sportsbooks to apply for permits – if given the opportunity. That said, industry giants with lucrative financial backing like DraftKings and FanDuel would undoubtedly enter the Saskatchewan market.
After all, it was a Saskatchewan MP, Kevin Waugh, who first introduced Bill C-218 back in February of 2020.
The Atlantic Provinces – New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island
Most of Canada’s east coast provinces allowed single-game sports betting via government-run books from the start – three-out-of-four to be exact. The one province that lagged behind was Nova Scotia, which became the last Canadian province to legalize this type of betting.
The desire to ramp up online sports betting wasn’t there for Nova Scotia the way it had been for the other Atlantic provinces, but the presence of illegal offshore books put pressure on the situation due to loss of revenue. On February 11th 2022, just two days before the Super Bowl, Nova Scotia joined the rest of the country.
The Northern Territories – Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon
Online sports betting activities in the north are actually managed by the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC) in partnership with lottery corporations based in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories.
Naturally, this area of Canada feels some degree of disconnect from both the rest of the country and the world, but online sports betting via government-run gaming corporations seems to be a solid solution for its residents at this point in time.