The gambling industry in Canada is getting a shakeup—and that’s good news for Canadians! The changing laws mean that Canadians now have more options when it comes to online gambling.
While some provinces have already embraced the change, others are slower to adapt. We’ll explain how Canadian gambling laws have changed, which provinces are implementing changes, and what this means for Canadians.
Canada Opens Up to Online Gambling
Though changes in the Canadian gambling landscape may just now be becoming apparent in some provinces, the shift began last year. In August 2021, Bill C-218 came into effect. The bill changed the Canadian Criminal Code to make single-event sports betting legal.
Before the change, only parlay bets were legal. This restriction gave Canadians far fewer options when it came to gambling, particularly sports betting.
The government touted the change as a chance to strengthen the economy and keep Canadians safer. This choice was partly influenced by the fact that many Canadians have already engaged in single-event sports betting online via grey market websites.
Another important aspect of Bill C-218 is that it allows sports betting to occur in both physical casinos and online. By allowing provinces to offer gambling online, the government hopes to limit the use of the grey market.
Canadians were able to use these websites because they weren’t operating on Canadian soil, meaning it technically wasn’t illegal to use them. The changing laws are intended to combat the grey market and bring competition back to Canada.
However, provinces have all been moving at their own pace when it comes to moving forward with the expanded regulations.
Which Provinces Have Started Offering Online Gambling?
With such a huge shift in the industry, many provinces are also taking the opportunity to launch or expand their iGaming offerings. However, each province is going by a different timeline, and not all provinces currently have the same regulations.
Ontario was the first province to fully regulate online gambling with its new provider, iGaming Ontario (IGO). This provider is a subsidiary of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) and was launched in April 2022. The IGO offers esports betting as well as online casinos from third-party operators.
This is great news for Ontarians, as we already see a lot of competition in the online gambling space. In fact, there are so many great online gambling websites that players might have trouble choosing. That’s where review websites like casinosource.ca come in handy. With the launch of iGaming Ontario, the province is setting an example for a new framework for the rest of the country.
Quebec currently has one government-regulated website that offers online gambling. Espacejeux started offering single-event betting as soon as the new law was enacted.
Even after the change, Loto-Québec was still concerned about the grey market in Canada. However, they are making strides toward crushing the competition by partnering with online casino game providers like High 5 Games.
British Columbia was well positioned to enact the new online gambling regulations and offered single-event betting immediately. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) launched its PlayNow Sportsbook website as soon as the laws were allowed on August 27, 2021.
PlayNow.com remains BC’s only regulated online gambling website. At this time, there is no known plan for third-party expansion.
Manitoba also allowed single-event online gambling as soon as it was allowed. Manitoba, along with Alberta and Saskatchewan, is part of the Western Canada Lottery Corporation (WCLC). As part of this agreement, all provinces in the WCLC have access to the Sport Select online gambling website.
Manitoba also has a long-standing agreement with BCLC, allowing Manitobans access to the PlayNow website.
Alberta didn’t get on board with the new laws allowed by Bill C-218 right away. Unlike the previously mentioned provinces, single-event betting wasn’t offered by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) until September 2021.
Similarly to Ontario, Alberta also welcomed third-party competitors along with their launch. Albertans can also gamble online at Play Alberta, the only provincially owned online gambling website.
The Atlantic Provinces
New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island are all part of the Atlantic Lottery Corporation (ALC). Except for Nova Scotia, the ALC provinces allowed single-event sports betting immediately. Nova Scotia waited until February 2022 to implement the change.
The ALC website also allows residents of these provinces to play online casino games. Thus far, there don’t seem to be any plans to allow third-party competitors. However, the ALC has partnered with many video lottery game providers over the past year to improve its online gambling offerings.
Saskatchewan waited a little longer than other provinces to implement the new regulations. Single-event betting didn’t become available until November of 2021.
Through an agreement with SaskGaming, the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) was announced as the operator of the Online Gaming Portal. In June 2022, the SIGA signed an agreement with the BCLC to bring the PlayNow website to Saskatchewan residents.
The Canadian territories Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, and the Yukon are part of the WCLC as associate numbers. Like Saskatchewan, the territories didn’t allow single-event betting until November 2021.
Though the territories did adapt to the new sports betting laws, online gambling may have to wait a bit longer. Though all three territories have access to WCLC’s Sport Select platform, players must still purchase tickets in-store.
It may have taken some time for the Canadian government to expand its online gambling offerings, but changes are happening fast. Since the changes, each province and territory has been adapting at its own pace. However, it seems it’s only a matter of time until online gambling across Canada becomes the norm.
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