The Great White North has had legal sports betting since 1985 with bettors in each of Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories being able to make parlay bets through the provincial lotteries ever since. Every legal sports bet had to be made with at least two wagers per bet, a law made in order to reduce the chance of match fixing.
However, the betting industry was changed forever in June 2021 when the senate approved legal, single-game wagering for the first time in history. The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act was passed on the 23rd of that month, making it legal to wager on single games for the first time in 36 years.
There had of course been many changes to the sports betting landscape since then, the main one being the move to online betting. With most sportsbooks now moving online as opposed to land-based betting shops, you can get some of the best odds by carefully researching a prestigious vendor. For example, world cup odds can be open to debate, however the more well-known sportsbooks tend to get it right.
The similarities and differences
There are plenty of similarities with sports betting in Canada compared to their neighbours to the south and across the pond.
One of the biggest similarities with the States is that both governments allow their states and provinces to regulate the betting market themselves. This means that from state to state or province to province you could find completely different laws and regulations on sports betting. For example, sports betting is entirely illegal both online and in-shop in Idaho. However, their state neighbours Oregon have legalized all forms of sports betting, though only through their state official sportsbook.
There are also similarities in both countries’ land-based wagering. Both have well established Native American markets with many establishments being owned by them. There are hundreds of venues between both nations for both casino gaming and sports betting.
One huge similarity with the UK and Canada is that in both countries, all winnings are non-taxable. The UK’s refusal to tax betting is due to the fact that no income is produced. In both countries however, casinos and sportsbook pay a lot in taxes, earning the government plenty of money that way. The only quirk with Canada’s tax laws is that any interest on winnings must be declared on a T5 form and is then taxable.
These laws are in stark contrast with the US, where winnings are fully taxable and must be reported on tax returns. This includes lotteries, raffles, casinos along with sports betting as well as any winnings earnt in prizes (e.g. cars, vacations) to their fair market value.
The legality of sports betting in the UK differs majorly to the US and Canada in plenty of other ways, however. For example, they have blanket legalization of sports betting and no restrictions as to what sportsbooks you can use. This means wherever you are, you can place a bet online or in-shop and their counties have no say on the laws themselves.
The legal gambling age in the UK is also generally lower than it is in America. You can take part in the lottery and purchase scratch-offs at 16 in the UK and bet on sports and casino at 18. The US and Canada have differing laws which vary from state to state, but generally the legal age for gambling is 18 though some states/provinces require you to be 19 or 21 and up.
There are also differing laws dependent on the type of gambling you are partaking in. For example, Florida allows those 18 and up to gamble on pari-mutuels, bingo, and poker, but has an age minimum of 21 for slots.
Compared to the US, Canada’s legal restrictions are much looser. However, they are also more stringent than the UK. This does mean though that Canada strikes a healthy balance between the two, allowing for healthier gambling habits as well as keeping sports wagering fun for bettors.
The future of gambling in Canada looks very bright. A well-regulated market and the allowance of single-game wagering means that there are likely to be far less examples of illegal/grey market gambling.
The relaxing of the laws in 2021 allows a healthy balance between legislative control and creative freedom for sportsbooks and casinos. The move to online sportsbooks by the industry over the last decade means that it is now much easier and even safer to wager on your favourite sports. All you need is a smart device or a laptop and an internet connection and you can wager however you please; be it single-game wagers or parlays.