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Will Canada's Single Event Sports Betting Legislation Impact the US?
Mar 16th, 2021

Canada’s fallen behind the US when it comes to single-event sports betting, but this might be about to change if current legislative efforts are anything to go by.

Single Game Sports Betting in Canada

To bettors in the United Kingdom, and Europe generally, the idea of being able to bet on sports but not a single sporting market sounds utterly bizarre. But that’s the current state of play in Canada, which has had a peculiar approach to betting legislation in various ways for some time, not least the ambiguous stance to online gambling and the ban on single sports betting.

There are plenty of great tips for players to take advantage of whether sport-specific or general principles, but for the most part players prefer single-game betting. A single market is much more straightforward and thus has a better chance of paying out, whereas parlay bets have multiple contingencies and the player loses if just one result doesn’t go their way.

However, this strange Canadian prohibition on single-game sports betting could soon come to an end if current legislative moves (which, unusually, are supported across the political spectrum) come to fruition. In February, a private member’s bill to that effect passed its second reading in the House Commons by an overwhelming margin, indicating the very high chance that the bill will become law further down the line.

It’s not just online sports betting that’s restricted in Canada; the country has a very grey approach to online casinos too. Whether slots fans or card sharks, USA real money casinos are places where winning real money is possible and can often be done by taking advantage of promotions. Better yet, there are usually hundreds of slots and many table games, including live dealer versions. Some sites even combine casino and sports aspects, so you can bet on your favourite team and relax spinning reels all under the same virtual roof.

Billions of Dollars in Benefits

Kevin Waugh, one of the MPs sponsoring the bill, has expressed his hope that the vote will prove a boon for Saskatchewan and Canada’s sports sector. Waugh cited the scale of the single game sports betting industry, which stands at an estimated $14bn. Two-thirds of this is through the Canadian black market, with the remaining $4bn occurring legally, but benefiting offshore betting operations.

Naturally, the Canadian central and provincial governments make no money whatsoever, as overseas betting is to the advantage of other countries, and underworld betting syndicates are not renowned for their civic-minded approach to taxes.

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) has also calculated that only around $500m is placed in legal provincial sports betting in a year. This is not surprising, as any bettor knows that a parlay bet (also known as a multiple or accumulator) is far less likely to come off than a single bet, and is correspondingly less attractive to players most of the time.

The government bill to address this, C-13, has since been pulled but the private member’s bill, C-128, is still on course and is endorsed with substantial political backing. If it comes into effect, this should massively reduce criminal (and overseas) sports betting, benefiting the Canadian authorities significantly.

The Changing View of Sports Teams, and the US

An attempt a decade earlier to make similar moves failed, partly because professional sports bodies were opposed to legalizing single-game sports betting. However, this attempt to just ignore reality (Canadians are going to bet on single-game sports markets, the only question is whether they pick offshore or criminal options if the country refuses to make it domestically accessible on a legal basis) seems to be at an end.

One of the reasons for that is the situation south of the border. The US has typically been more puritanical than Canada on betting matters, so it’s perhaps unexpected to find more liberal legislation in America than Canada. Nevada and New Jersey led the way, and now around half the states have some measure of legal sports betting. Given the Canadian-US nature of various sports competitions, this has naturally attracted a number of Canadian bettors. Major Canadian sports leagues now stand in favor of the proposed legislation.

There is still an argument about the risks of addiction, but Waugh has suggested limits could be imposed to try and counter this. And it’s certainly the case that government authorities, responsible to the electorate, will be more interested in mitigating the risks than criminal gangs.

Affecting the USA?

The widespread and growing sports betting industry in the USA means that American players are probably unlikely to move en masse to Canadian betting sites. Perhaps the more significant impact will be Canadian players who may prefer to win and lose with domestic rather than American sportsbooks. However, this will add more competition to the mix, particularly for leagues that are combined US-Canadian affairs, and that may help make odds a touch more generous as sportsbooks try to attract players.

All that said, there are still various states where sports betting is not on the table domestically, and this may be another avenue for keen sports fans and bettors in America to have a wager. It will also add to the head of steam that already exists for more states to liberalize their sports betting laws, for fear of players doing precisely that. After all, if players are going to bet, most states would want the income that comes with that to go to the state, not to Canada.

Players have plenty of different ways to decide on how to bet, whether that’s backing a favorite team, opting for home advantage, or taking a long hard look at the stats. One alternative is to make use of free tips by professional tipsters to give yourself an edge over the sportsbooks.

It’s been a long time coming, but it seems the death knell for forced parlay sports betting may have been sounded. The legislation hasn’t completed its journey yet, but it enjoys strong support and it seems to just be a matter of time.

Posted by Mike Godsey (Profile) | Permalink | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Mike Godsey is the lead NFL handicapper for Godspicks, featured at
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