What Will Legalized Single Sports Betting Be Worth To Canada?

sports betting ticket
"Single Betting" by SportsIllustrated is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Canadians are one small, simple step away from being able to place wagers in single sporting events across the country. Bill C-218, also known as the Safe And Regulated Sports Betting Act, has passed through all the channels necessary to become law.

In order for legal sports betting to be part of the Canadian gaming landscape, the final measure required to make it possible for Canadians to begin wagering on individual sporting events is for the ruling Liberal government to put the law into force. In plain English, that means to set a date for the law to be enacted and enable Canadians to place single sports bets.

Bill C-218 passed through third reading in the Senate of Canada on June 22. Seven days later, the Governor-General of Canada’s office granted the bill Royal Assent, making it a law. Currently, Bill C-218 is in the possession of Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti, awaiting for a date to be set for it to be enacted and single sports betting to be made available to all Canadians.

The Previous System

Canada has been able to legally bet on sports for over three decades. Through Pro Line Sport Select, operated across the country by provincial lottery associations, bettors in Canada can place legal wagers only by betting on the outcome of multiple sporting events at once. This is called parlay betting. Some provinces permit online betting on sports, while others do not. There are five lottery corporations across Canada that operate these sports betting sites – the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), Loto-Québec, the Atlantic Lottery, and the Western Canada Lottery Corporation, which covers Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, along with Yukon, Nunavut, and Northwest Territory.

In February of 2020, Conservative Member of Parliament Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon-Grasswood) introduced private member’s Bill C-218, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting). ​​The enactment of this bill amends paragraph 207(4)‍(b) of the Canadian Criminal Code to make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the province that involves betting on a race – other than a horse-race – or fight, or on a single sport event or athletic contest.

How Single Sports Betting Will Work In Canada

On the surface, the Canadian sports betting system will operate in similar fashion to how regulated sports betting is taking place across the USA since it was legalized in 2018. Each state operates its own sports betting empire and every province will be put in charge of how its sports betting system will be implemented.

It will be left up to each province to determine whether to operate sports betting themselves, or to open up the market to private entities. It’s known that several of the top American betting sites such as DraftKings, FanDuel, PointsBet, BetMGM and William Hill are enviously eyeing the Canadian sports betting market.

“Single Betting” by Wayne Parry/AP is licensed under CC BY 3.0

How Much Might It Be Worth?

Estimates are that offshore betting sites and other forms of black market wagering are siphoning approximately $14 billion annually out of the Canadian sports betting market.

A well-run, legal and regulated sports betting industry should be able to bring much, if not all of that revenue back into the government coffers. Currently, the legally-run Pro Line generates $500 million annually.

The Canadian Gaming Association is estimating that a retail sportsbook located in Caesars Windsor Casino in Windsor, Ontario directly across the Canada-US border from Detroit, alone could generate $70 million in betting handle each year. That total doesn’t include potential revenue generated by online and mobile sports betting, which in today’s market, are the most lucrative forms of sports betting.

A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study is projecting that in a legal, regulated environment, Canadian single sports betting over the first two years of legalization could generate between $1.5 billion to $2.4 billion.

The same report suggested that the legal, regulated sports betting market would create as much as an additional $425 million for the Canadian GDP and create upwards of 2,500 jobs across the country.

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