Sports BettingSports betting is of course a huge business in all countries of the world, and if you are a Canadian citizens or resident and you have an interest in betting on one or more different types of sporting events or sporting fixtures, then you may be interested in learning more about the online sports betting environment.

Online gambling such as poker, casino, and sports betting is often referred to as a legal gray area especially while file sharing and offshore gambling laws in Canada are still working to catch up with the convolutions of the modern connected world.

It is not illegal for you to place sports bets and wagers online in Canada, however the laws surrounding sports betting sites clearly state that any gambling site based and location in Canada must hold a Government issued gambling license.

Gambling and betting fall under the provincial jurisdictions in Canada, while the uncertainties regarding online gambling legality, stems from the Internet not paying attention to provincial restrictions. Several offshore betting sites select to be based in Isle of Man, Cyprus, and Gibraltar where governments welcome tax revenue and online gambling laws are wide open. Since the arrival of Internet gambling sites, Canadian authorities have mostly ignored the multi-billion- dollar spectacle, permitting online sports betting sites to exist in a kind of unclear area where both bettors and bookmakers are basically free to function. No prosecutions have resulted in guilty pleas or conflictions according to legal expert Michael Lipton from Toronto’s Dickinson Wright, so offshore sports books continue to thrive in Canada's so called gray zone.

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As there is a very good chance that any sports betting website you come across online is going to not be based in Canada, then you need to ensure any site you do sign up to and join does at least hold a valid gambling license in a recognised jurisdiction, for by doing so you will be afforded the full protection offered to customer of such sites by the licensing commission or licensing authority.

Canadian Gambling Laws are Outdated

Gaming law expert, Chad Finkelstein feels that the criminal laws written decades ago were drafted without the existence of anything remotely resembling Internet gaming, these outdated laws are difficult to apply to the current online gambling industry. Both Lipton and Finkelstein agree that the trickier part of the legal equation is that offshore operators welcome bets from players residing in Canada. The legality of gambling was plainspoken before the Internet, and far less complicated with every province determining its own rules regarding lotteries, bingos, sports betting and casinos. The exception to the provincial rule is that the Canadian Pari-mutuel Agency, a federal unit of the agriculture department regulates horse racing and over time most provinces apart from Saskatchewan moved towards online gaming.

British Columbia

In 2004, B.C. started offering online lottery tickets and in 2009 added online poker and sportsbetting while bingo was added a year later. Quebec and Manitoba offered similar online gambling options and was followed by Alberta and Ontario. The Atlantic Lottery Corp oversees online lottery ticket sales and bingo on the East Coast although it does not include casino offering such as slots, poker, and blackjack. The fact remains that Internet betting sites are keen to tap into one of the most lucrative gambling markets in the world. Canadians make up a significant part of the online bookmakers player base and are estimated at 8 percent. Canadian player wagering at offshore sportsbooks located in Europe reaches an estimated $4 billion according to Canadian Gaming Association's Vice president Paul Burns, who also shared that in contrast about $500 is spent on provincial sports lottery games such as the Ontario's Pro-Line.

Sports betting are a huge industry in all countries, and Canadian citizens take an interest in different types of sporting events. With Ontario opening an online betting site Canadians became more eager to learn about legal gambling options. The progression made by both Canada and its southern neighbouring US currently have the strictest set of both state and federal laws regarding the gaming industry. Sports fans yearn for legitimate betting options that have been nothing short of limited.

Canadian Criminal Code

According to the Canadian criminal code, gambling activities are illegal. The criminal law 1892/1910 enacted in 1892 has undergone several changes to tolerate gambling, and the 1910 alteration legalized pari-mutuel wagering, a form of gambling in which winnings are rewarded from a pool once authority-cuts are removed. More betting related changes were made to the criminal law in 1970 and Canada's first casino opened in 1989 in Winnipeg. The criminal code stipulates that single bets on a sports event or athletic contests are against the law, authorizing sports betting operators to only permit punters to bet on the outcome of multiple matches, termed parlay. Subsequently, thousands of Canadian gamblers wager at online bookmakers not licensed in the country.

Bob Runciman and his colleagues strived to amend the criminal code allowing sports punters to bet on single sports events legally. This was vehemently opposed by those dealing with problem gamblers, Runciman feels voting against this bill ignored the reality of current sports betting and in truth that has been played out in the past with the arrest of twenty-one people charged with bookmaking in a multi-million- dollar online based sports betting operation. Voting against the bill won't put a stop to single-event sports wagering, it ensures its existence remains in the shadows while money flows to offshore betting sites. Doctor Kelly's organization did studies in 2001 and again in 2005 that found problem gambling is more likely to occur in an illegal environment. Kelly reported that his aim is not to minimize gambling problems, only to ensure that facts are kept in perspective since the opponents claim to social consequences are not supported via facts.

Provincial Governmental Law

In Canada, provincial governments participate in sports betting via lottery retailers. Sports Action BC or Pro-line in Ontario are popular but offer poor odds in payouts, while online sportsbooks offer much higher payouts as well as many betting options, plus players can wager from the comfort of home and deposits takes place via personal accounts all part of the infinite advantages of online sport betting sites. Measuring the benefits makes it clear why Canadians prefer using offshore sportsbetting sites instead of Pro-line, the main reason being that new members enjoy a sign-up bonus. Bonus offers are subject to wagering requirements, generally easy to reach and frequent play is rewarded via loyalty perks.

Another distinction between online sportsbetting sites and Pro-line is the convenience of depositing and withdrawing via methods such as Entropay, Ecopayz, Paysafecard, and Instadebit. Pro-line is suitable for placing smaller bets as it comes up short concerning payout. The more exotic wagering takes place at offshore sportsbetting sites paying 20 to 30% more on average, and decent online sites offer superior odds comared to Pro-line's 1.70. According to surveys, 8% of adults in Canada gambled in the past year via the Internet and more than 3% place wagers on a monthly basis, with 16.7% of those being on sports.

Frequently Asked Questions

We shall now move on to answering some of the many questions that we are aware many Canada based sports bettors may have in regards to placing bets and wagers online. Below are the most often asked online sports related questions along with their respective answers, be aware further down this guide you will find a listing of both the good and bad licensing authorities and gambling commissions who issue their own respective gambling licenses to online sports betting sites.

  • How quickly are my online bets and wagers settled?

    Many online betting sites have an automated system in place in regards to settling all winning bets placed at their respective sites, and as much you should never be waiting more than a minute or two to have your winning bets and wagers settled once the actual sporting event you have bet on has ended. Occasionally any very large bets that are struck and turn out to be winning ones may have to be settled manually, however this will not usually see you having to wait for a long period of time for your winning to reflect in your account.

  • What happens if I have a complaint?

    If you have any problems or complaints with any sports betting site then you should first try and get the site itself to resolve those problems, however if that is not possible for whatever reason then you should escalate your complaint to the license issuer for that site. This is why betting online at betting sites that hold a recognised gambling license issued by one of the more respected gambling commissions listed further down this page will bear fruit, as those licensing commissions offer bettor a complaint service and they will step in and help when help is needed.

  • Can I bet live and In-Play online?

    You may be used to picking out your sports bets and wagers in advance and will once you have selected them place those bets and wagers before a sporting event starts. However, many online sports betting sites will now allow you to access and utilize something known as a live in play betting market and this is a betting market that opens up and become accessible only once a sports event has started. In Play betting markets are proving very popular as they allow sports bettors to hedge bets placed before the sporting event started and bets can be placed on these IN Play betting markets right up until the dying minutes of that event.

  • Will winning payout reductions apply online?

    You will often find that when betting in a land based venue if a horse for example is withdrawn from a race very close to the starting time of that race, and the bookmakers have not have time to form a new market and set of odds due to a horse being withdrawn, a small deduction is announced at the end of the race and all winning bets will have that reduction removed from them. Many online betting sites have done away with the lower valued deductions, which by the way are commonly known as a rule 4 deduction.

  • Do I have to pay any tax on my winnings?

    In Canada you will not have to pay any taxes on gambling winnings, this includes winnings from any game of chance. There are however gambling taxes in Canada but these are only charged and levied on gambling companies located within Canada and not imposed on gamblers themselves. You are therefore going to be able to pay, bet and gamble online without ever having to declare those winnings to the taxman. Canada residents will be able to claim back some or all of the tax when they have visited a US land based casino and have hit a jackpot over a certain amount.

  • Can I place any type of bets online?

    Do not be under the impression that you are not going to be able to place every single type of bet that you can place in a land based betting venue if you choose to utilize an online sports betting site. There are no differences at online betting sites in regards to the type and variety of bets and wagers that you can place at such sites, and in fact you may find a few exclusive and new bets on offer at some sports betting sites.

  • Are the betting odds higher online?

    You are often going to benefit from much higher odds attached to most sporting events when you opt to utilize a fully licensed online betting site, the reason for these sites offering much higher odds is that they have lower overheads than land based betting venues and on top of that there is a lot of competition between sports bets an it is always the ones offering enhanced odds that are going to attract the largest number of customers to their sites.

  • How do I claim free bets online?

    Free bets will be given away to both newly registered customers at some sports betting sites and players who have been betting regularly at one betting site. There are several different ways that you can claim free bets online at different sports betting sites so always read the rules attached to these offers and promotions for details of how to claim them.

  • How old do I have to be to bet online?

    There are 10 provinces and three territories in Canada and each of them have their own laws in place regarding the legal minimum age at which citizens and residents are allowed to gamble. Be aware when playing at an online gambling site you will need to be the minimum legal age to gamble in your province or territory. When gambling online age checks will be carried out and you will often be required to supply any gambling site with copies of your Driving License and/or Passport.

  • What stakes do I have to bet online?

    You will be able to place a bet online for any stake level you like, small valued bets will be readily accepted at all betting sites so if you like to occasional but low valued flutter then you are going to be accommodated at all betting sites. If you prefer placing bigger bets and bets then it may be best for you to select one of the larger and more popular sports betting sites as they are the ones that can and will cater for all high rolling sports bettors.

Legal Commonwealth Licensing Jurisdictions

  • UK Gambling Commission – Having a solid and well thought out set of standards and ethics the UK Gambling Commission is a highly effective organisation and as such any betting site online holding one of their gambling licenses will be a site you can trust implicitly.
  • Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner – All online ports betting sites located and licensed in Gibraltar adhere to the very highest standards, and this means you have the green light to join up to and start to gamble at any site licensed there.
  • Alderney Gambling Control Commission – Another effective yet not that well known gambling jurisdiction is the isle of Alderney, all gambling sites licensed there are run professionally and to the very highest industry standards.
  • Isle of Man Casino Control Commission – One final online gambling site license issuer and regulatory authority it the Isle of Man Casino Control Commission, you will never run into any problems gambling at any site license by them and if you do you can always escalate your problems to the commission and they will help an support you.

Other Gambling Jurisdictions

If you want the ultimate protection when placing bets and agers at online sports betting sites then you will be best advised to steer clear of site that hold a license as issued by the Government of Curacao or the Antigua Directorate of Offshore Gambling for both of these license issuers have proven to be toothless when it comes to assisting gamblers with any problems relating to sports betting sites they have issued licenses to.