Legal sports betting in Canada has been around for decades with one major caveat. Since 1985, betting on a single game or sporting event was not allowed. The only legal form of sports betting was tied to multi-team parlays.
The Canadian government decided to revisit the situation through legislative measures in 2021. The end result was the repeal of the ban against single-game wagers. The new sports betting laws went into effect in August of last year.
The sports betting industry in Canada has basically been controlled by each individual province. Through the use of provincial government-owned lottery corporations, online betting platforms offered sports betting and other forms of iGaming.
A few provinces such as Ontario and Alberta are looking to expand the current industry with commercial sportsbook operators. However, the system as a whole, remains intact even with last year’s major change in the law.
Jumping ahead to early 2022, the results of a recent survey state that only 20% of Canadian sports bettors were aware of the change in law.
That study was completed by Deloitte and it was entitled, “Bettors Perspectives.” The Key Insights section of that report contends that most Canadians are do not realize that the ban on single-game wagers has been lifted.
Data from the survey shows that only 19.2% of the respondents knew that single-game sports bets were now legal throughout Canada.
Part of the issue can be attributed to the current system in place for legal sports betting in Canada. Many of the government-owned lottery corporations were slow to institute this change.
In the absence of commercial operators such as FanDuel or DraftKings, marketing efforts to promote single-game wagers have been rather limited.
Ontario’s plans to expand the province’s commercial sports betting industry should impact these results. Current plans remained tied to a launch date of April 4, 2022. However, a good deal of sports bettors in the rest of Canada’s provinces may remain in the dark.
The sports betting laws have changed. Yet, the average Canadian sports bettor’s experience has failed to adapt to these changes. This requires a stronger effort to educate Canadian bettors as to what is actually legal.
Lost revenue by provincial lottery corporations remains a major concern. It has been estimated that Canadian bettors have spent upwards of $14 billion betting on sports through offshore gambling sites.
This loss of revenue was the major reason for the change in the old laws in the first place. The education process can be addressed at the provincial level. Each Canadian province needs to create its own marketplace for sports betting on single-game wagers.
The demand already exists. Another key stat in Deloitte’s report found that 38% of Canadians made or were interested in making a wager on sports.
Written by Dave Schwab, our US Sports Betting Industry Expert.