Last November, CBC Canada published a report showing Canucks bet an average of $14 billion through illegal sportsbooks every year. Not long afterward, Federal Justice Minister David Lametti table a motion to legalize single-game sports betting in the country.
If successful, sports betting will become fully legal in Canada. And as a result, punters all over the country will have a chance to bet on their favorite sports and games at land-based and online sportsbooks. In the meanwhile, here are six things to know about the state of online sports betting in Canada.
Sports Betting is Legal but Restricted
Sports betting in Canada is legal but heavily restricted. In 2012, the Canadian government had a chance to expand betting markets from parlays only and also include single-event sports betting. Unfortunately, a series of lobbying from major sports leagues in the US and Canada forced legislators to prohibit single-match sports betting.
For the uninitiated, a parlay is a sports bet in which you combine four or more picks into one betting slip. Crucially, you must get all predictions correctly to win your wager. This makes it pretty difficult to win parlays for many people. But when successful, a parlay can increase your windfall much better than most wagers.
To expound more on sports betting in Canada, provinces make the decisions on whether to legalize or ban the industry. However, they must follow the laws created by the federal government. In this case, their option was to permit parlays or to prohibit them. All ten provinces authorize parlay betting.
Online Betting is a Legal Grey Area
Although Canada permits sports betting through parlays, it doesn’t allow nor ban online gambling. This has created a legal greyness that often divides many legal experts. According to some lawyers, betting online isn’t illegal according to the constitution.
On the flip side, some experts note that the fact that online betting isn’t authorized in the constitution means it’s illegal. That said, experts tend to agree the legal greyness surrounding online sportsbooks do not affect players but operators.
Canadians can use foreign betting websites safely. But European and British bookmakers can’t set shop in Canada without facing legal action. This explains how Canadians spend $14 billion on foreign sportsbooks without getting into trouble with local authorities. You may find here more details about the legal betting sites that are accessible from Canada.
There are Plans to Legalize Single Game Betting
As we mentioned earlier, Federal Justice Minister David Lametti proposed a bill in November aimed at legalizing single-game betting. It’s way past due anyway: Canadians have always supported single-match wagering over the years.
In fact, single-game betting had a lot of support in 2012 up to the last minute. But then, the extensive lobbying from Major Leagues and the NCAA forced the House of Commons to unanimously limit betting to parlays. Eight years later, legislators have a chance to right their wrongs.
Unlike in 2012, though, the bill to authorize single-game betting has the support of lawmakers from both parties. What’s more, there’s pressure to help Canada make up for budget deficits caused by COVID-19. Of course, none of these things guarantee legislators will expand sports betting in Canada. But there’s hope.
Canadians Don’t Pay Taxes on Gambling Wins
One attractive thing about Canada’s sports betting laws is that they don’t charge punters taxes. Instead, provinces make money by taxing sportsbooks. Betting companies also need to pay taxes on their annual gross profits. Punters, though, keep 100% of their betting profits.
To be clear, professional gamblers are required to pay taxes, like everyone else in the country. But if you only wager for fun, you don’t have to report taxes for your occasional betting profits. It doesn’t matter the amount. Whether it’s a decent $1000 profit or a $1 million jackpot, you get to keep it all.
Most countries charge betting taxes, including the US. Depending on your state, you could pay from 8% of your profits and up to 30% of your income through betting as tax. In the UK, gamblers don’t pay taxes on their wins but many players in Europe do.
Daily Fantasy Sports are Allowed
Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) follow the same rules as an online casino. They aren’t prohibited by law, so there’s no harm in participating in them. DFS sports have remained unregulated in Canada since they became popular roughly four years ago.
That said, there have been debates about where DFS falls under gambling or games of skill. According to some experts, DFS are games of skill and therefore, should be legal by default. Unfortunately, the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) doesn’t believe the same.
In 2016, the CGA attempted to get DFS permanently banned on the grounds of being gambling games. Fortunately, lawmakers paid little attention to the claims. And as a result, Canadians can participate in DFS freely.
Canadians Can Bet on Nearly all Sports
Although Canada restricts sports betting to parlays, that’s far from the only thing people wager on. Many sportsbooks, both provincially-licensed and offshore betting companies, offer betting markets in nearly every sport on Earth.
Canucks have the freedom to bet on any of these sites. And that means they can wager on just about any sports event, from MMA and boxing to eSports and cricket. They could also wager on popular sports like football, hockey, soccer, and basketball.
Better yet, they can claim bonuses and promotions to magnify their profits without spending real cash. That said, only time will tell whether Canada will expand its sports betting laws.