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Go Canada! Legal Single Event Betting Coming to the Great White North

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Canada's Kelsey Mitchell celebrates with a flag after taking gold. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

Legal Single-Event Sports betting is coming to a Canadian venue near you. Canada’s Senate officially passed and gave royal assent to Bill C-218 on June 29 and on Thursday, Canadian Attorney General David Lametti took the final step for the legal sports betting industry, bringing The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act of Canada to light with the aim of launching single-event wagering in Canada within the next few weeks.

It has been a rather swift ascension for Canada’s single-event wagering platform. Previously the home of a parlay system of legal betting, Bill C-218, which is simply the rewriting of one line in Canada’s Criminal Code, will bring with it licensed sportsbooks and a broad menu of wagering options for Canadian bettors, whether it be on one game at a time or Canada’s traditional parlay betting platform.

Provinces Get the Chance to Regulate

The new rules in Canada will be similar to that of the US in that individual provinces, like states, will get a chance to draw up and regulate their own rules for sports betting. Single-event wagering will give Canadians a chance to bet on such events as the Super Bowl, the Grey Cup and individual games during the NHL and NBA playoffs instead of having to tether such opportunities to other events.

The provinces of British Columbia and Ontario will likely be the first, with the aim of August 27 to take their first single-event bets.

“Provinces and territories will be able to offer single-event sports betting products on The Grey Cup, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, and the Super Bowl,” Lametti said at the press conference. “The revenues generated from this type of gambling could be used by provinces and territories to fund programs and services in areas such as health care and education, as they currently do with other lottery revenues. The amendments clearly respond to calls from labor leaders, particularly in communities along the Canada-U.S. border, following similar changes made in a number of border states.”

The Lotteries

Canada’s provinces are set to adopt a lottery model for their legal sports betting scene, similar to ones in Washington, DC and Oregon. Those platforms have underperformed so far in the US but lotteries in Canada have had experience running and being successful in their respective jurisdictions.

The province of British Columbia has long run a lottery sports betting model with a parlay focus for years. They will likely regulate the Saskatchewan scene as well. Their PlayNow is said to be a cutting-edge platform and has been a model used in other jurisdictions around the world, including the US market.

Manitoba and Alberta will likely fall under the Western Canada Lotteries Corp. and Canada’s Atlantic provinces will be regulated by the Atlantic Lottery Corp.

Ontario, Canada’s largest province will have the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario run their legal single-event lottery platform going forward.

The biggest question surrounds the presence of competition in the market. It is expected that other, more recognized American-based sportsbooks will be welcome and that the lotteries will relinquish a virtual monopoly in their respective province’s platforms.

About That Competition

Sportsbooks successfully operating in the US have been busy lining up to gain a chance at the Canadian market. Breaking through against the province-run lotteries will likely be afforded sportsbooks that have been operating globally and have most recently been factors in the exploding US market.

Penn National, just last week was able to acquire the Canadian-based theScore Media brand. It is currently Canada’s most downloaded sports media app and has been operating in some Heavyweight jurisdictions in the US scene. With the acquisition, Penn National gets an immediate foot in the door on the Canadian scene.

PointsBet has also made recent moves with an eye on the Canadian market. They hired an executive from Canada’s largest Canadian communications and media brand, Rogers, hoping that he will help PointsBet make quick inroads into the Canadian market.

BetMGM has recently signed Canadian icon Wayne Gretzky as the brand ambassador and has a deal in place with The Hockey News which has been and continues to be a huge name in the Canadian sporting realm.

What It All Means

With Canada’s legal sports betting industry going live in the next couple of weeks, it gives 37.5 million more people in North America the ability to wager on their favorite team and contributes to the overall mainstreaming of sportsbooks across the continent.

The expansion of Canada’s scene comes with some major financial ramifications as well. Single-event wagering is apparently taking place already across the country with the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) estimating $10 billion per year of unregulated betting. It is thought that another $4 billion per year flows to offshore sportsbooks for single-event wagering purposes.

Keeping that money in Canada is a major motivation for Canadian lawmakers and regulators as is the impending job creation. The legalization, regulation and ultimate taxation of the platform will help keep gambling dollars in the country, will put people to work and be of assistance to needy provincial tax programs.

“From an economic standpoint, having the ability to offer single-event sports betting will be a tremendous benefit to Canadian gaming operators and the communities where they operate, as, most importantly, it will allow them to create new jobs,” the CGA said in a statement issued Thursday.