Canadians are undoubtedly very keen on watching and participating in sports recreationally so it is hardly surprising many residents of the country have also become huge fans of wagering on sporting events. The sports betting landscape in the Great White North poses as a mix of sports that enjoy undying popularity both locally and internationally. Many major sportsbooks welcome betting action from Canadian punters, offering them a rich diversity of markets and bet types alongside great odds, quick cash-outs, and lots of locally available payment solutions.
In this article, we present you with a run-down of the legal betting landscape in Canada and the betting markets sports fans from the country prefer, along with a few guidelines to help you identify the most trusted online sportsbooks that accept bets from the Great White North.
Sports Betting Legalities in Canada
Unlike some other markets, Canada’s sports betting landscape is not as straightforward. All forms of sports betting, except for horse racing, were outlawed in 1892 under the provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code but this state-wide ban hardly prevented punters and bookmakers from exploiting the loopholes in legislation. The Canadian Criminal Code suffered a number of amendments in the century to follow as the country’s government gradually started to perceive sports betting carries the potential of becoming a significant source of revenue.
This realization caused Canada’s government to lift the federal ban on sports betting in the early 1990s, when the provinces in the country were officially allowed to pen their own sports betting regulations. It was in 1999 when the Mohawk tribe of Kahnawake started licensing gambling websites and online sportsbooks, providing local punters with the chance to bet from the comfort of their surroundings. Today, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has become one of the biggest licensing and regulatory bodies in the world of online gambling.
The bottom line is online sports betting is legal in all Canadian provinces as long as the operators offering the services have received a license from the respective province. That being said, only specific types of wagering are permitted. Canadian punters are allowed to make only parlay bets online. This is a form of wagering that involves at least two selections, all of which must win in order for the betting slip to pay out.
Attempts have been made to enable single bets, the most notable of which came in the form of Bill C-290 whose history dates back as far as 2011. Unfortunately, the piece of legislation did not receive the approval of the Senate at the time. This was followed by the proposal of the similar Bill C-221 (also called The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act) by MP Brian Masse at the beginning of 2016 but this one, too, struck a snag and did not receive the necessary number of votes to pass. At the time, Masse commented that expanding the online sports betting market would have generated significant revenue for the country that would otherwise end up in the pockets of offshore operators.
The restrictions have caused many Canadian sports fans to start using the services of the said offshore online sportsbooks where they are facing a greater diversity of betting types. Since these sportsbooks are licensed under foreign jurisdictions they are not bound by such restrictions which enables them to offer a variety of wagers, including single bets, totals, outrights, and props. Moreover, Canadian punters are not facing legal penalties for participating in online sports betting on offshore-based websites.
Canada’s Favorite Sports Betting Markets
Despite the imposed limitations, Canadians remain avid sports bettors. According to the Canadian Gaming Association’s Vice President Paul Burns, bettors from the country wager as much as CA$4 billion per year at foreign-based sports betting sites. Canadians love to wager on sports like ice hockey that are unique to their country but betting on sports inherent to the United States is also widespread, which makes sense considering the two countries are practically neighbors. Below, we list some of the markets Canadian bettors are most passionate about.
Canadians are very keen on basketball and often prefer to back their local NBA franchise, the Toronto Raptors, which was founded in 1995. NBA fans from the country enjoy wagering on NBA clashes both on the in-play markets and pre-match. The enormous popularity this game enjoys is easy to explain by its fast-paced nature and the plethora of betting opportunities it offers.
One of the most common ways to bet on NBA games is the moneyline, which is especially suitable for rookie punters since they simply need to predict which of the two participating teams would win the game. Point spreads are yet another viable alternative for NBA bettors from Canada, but advanced punters can also experiment with more complex wagers like quarters, props, and outrights.
Many Canadians have grown up with the game of hockey so it does not come as a surprise the NHL is easily the most popular betting market among punters from the country. In fact, this is the only sport originating from Canada to get such a wide exposure across the international sports betting industry. Canadians love to back their favorite hockey teams throughout the entire NHL season but betting action tends to significantly increase as it draws towards its conclusion and the odds of the events start to favor the home teams.
The most common outright bets are made on who will win the Stanley Cup as well as on the teams to qualify for the playoffs. Another alternative for NHL fans from Canada is to bet on the puck line where the points are generally spread +/- 1.5. Over/under totals for the NHL market are very popular as well and are commonly set at 5.5.
If you are not a Canadian, you may find it surprising that sports fans from the country are extremely keen on mixed martial arts, and on the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship), in particular. The high level of popularity of this sport can probably be attributed to the great success of UFC mixed martial artist George St-Pierre, whose carrier is beyond impressive. GSP, as Canadians call him, has earned twenty UFC belts throughout the course of his carrier, causing him to truly become a household name across the country. Toronto’s Roger Center held the record for UFC attendance until recently which also speaks about this sport’s massive popularity in Canada.
It may not look like it at first glance, but the UFC is quite a diverse market offering punters a lot more winning opportunities than you might think. Of course, the most common-spread option is to try and predict which fighter will emerge victorious but it is also possible to wager on total rounds and how the winner will achieve victory, with the options being decision, knockout, and submission.
Canada may not be the first country that comes to mind at the mention of the word “soccer” but this is not to say Canadians do not love this sport. Sure, soccer may not be as big on Canadian soil at it is, say in England, Italy, or Portugal, but the sport has been enjoying an increasing popularity in the Great White North in recent years. This growing interest can be pinned on the rise of Major League Soccer (MSL) which contributed to the appeal of the market.
Similarly to the NHL, outright bets are among the favorites of Canadian punters, who love to wager on Montreal Impact to Win. Soccer bettors tend to also favor totals where the over/under margin is commonly set to 2.5. Other popular markets include Goal Scorer and Both Teams to Score.
Much like soccer, cricket is not the type of sport one would think is popular in Canada, it having originated in England in the 16th century. While it indeed is not one of the mainstream sports in the country, it has caught up in recent years, attracting more attention on behalf of punters. The types of bets you can make are largely dependent on the format of the game. However, some of the wagers Canadians are the keenest on include the coin toss, the highest scoring batman or bowler, and the team to emerge victorious in the test matches.
Deposit and Withdrawal Options for Canadian Punters
Canadians looking to make wagers on their favorite sports online are facing a broad choice of secure deposit and withdrawal solutions. The sportsbooks accepting action from this jurisdiction would usually offer both locally and internationally available payment methods, the majority of which would allow for borderless money transfers in the local currency CAD. We shed more light on Canada-friendly payment options in the paragraphs to follow.
InstaDebit is one of the best choices for Canadian bettors as, in fact, it is available exclusively for residents of the country who use the online banking service of a Canadian financial institution. InstaDebit is incredibly simple to use but you must register an account before you are enabled to conduct payments with it.
No activation is necessary so you can make a deposit at an online sportsbook right away. And the best thing of all is that InstaDebit protects its customer’s privacy and sensitive details since the only information you must enter when initiating a payment is your email address and InstaDebit password.
Neteller is another secure payment choice for sports bettors from Canada. This is a digital wallet where you can store funds transferred from your card or personal bank account. The method supports over 25 currencies, including GBP, CAD, USD, and EUR. Neteller offers a great ease of use, with punters being able to effortlessly transfer money to and from their online sports betting accounts.
Those who use Neteller for the purposes of sports betting can rest assured their money is in good hands. Neteller complies with the frameworks of the Financial Services Authority which require the company to store its customers’ funds in separate trust accounts. Similarly to InstaDebit, you will need to register first and then use your Neteller account ID and password when depositing.
Paysafecard is a good alternative for Canadians who seek to deposit smaller amounts of money at online sportsbooks. The method is actually prepaid and one is able to purchase a voucher across a huge range of landbased vendors, located across Canada. You can pay for your voucher either in cash or by using your debit or credit card.
Depositing with Paysafecard is but a piece of cake since you simply choose it from the options in the sportsbook’s cashier and enter the desired amount of money along with your voucher’s 16-digit code. Since the method is prepaid, it allows you to deposit much smaller sums when compared to other payment solutions. Another minus is that it is available for depositing only. A voucher can be purchased in any of the following denominations – CA$10, CA$30, CA$50, CA$100, CA$150, and CA$250. It is reusable as long as there is money left in it.
Citadel Instant Banking
Citadel Instant Banking holds a semblance to InstaDebit in that it, too, is an online banking platform. Launched in 2000, Citadel allows you to conduct borderless payments from any device you deem fit, be it your desktop computer, smartphone or tablet. It is available in around 20 countries, including Canada. No registration is required to use Citadel’s banking platform. There is the additional benefit of paying very low fees for using its services. It works with the local currencies of each country in supports which is to say you will not have to deal with additional costs for conversion.
Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, UseMyBank enjoys a rock-solid reputation among Canadian punters for its reliability, efficiency, and convenience. As its name suggests, this is an online banking platform that only serves as a mediator between the punter and their financial institution since it enables transfers directly from one’s personal bank account.
Best of all, it enables you to carry out a money transfer without having to share any of your personal details with the online retailer, or in our case, with online sportsbooks. You do not need to have a credit card to use it but are required to be an account holder at a Canadian bank that has partnered with UseMyBank.
Credit and Debit Cards
Pretty much everyone owns a credit or a debit card these days, which is why many sports betting fans from the Great White North find it the easiest to deposit and withdraw with theirs. Card payments are secure and easy to conduct, with the two most popular card brands supported by Canada-friendly sportsbooks being Mastercard and Visa. Many online bookmakers would accept these as a payment option.
One thing to have in mind is that cards’ popularity has started to decline as of late due to the fact that some card companies have severely restricted the transactions to online gambling websites. For example, when a payment is initiated to a sportsbook via Mastercard, it is first sent for approval. Whether it goes through or not, would depend on the policies of the issuing financial institution. Sometimes it is possible for you to deposit with a card, only to find yourself unable to receive your winnings in the same manner. Because of this, we recommend punters from the country to resort to local methods like InstaDebit and UseMyBank.
Features of Canada-Friendly Sports Betting Sites
Canada-friendly sportsbooks that operate under valid offshore licenses are known to offer a huge number of benefits. There are plenty of advantages that come with making punts at a respected sports betting website – you can read about them below.
Diversity of Markets
The wagering options at landbased sports betting shops pale in comparison to what their online counterparts have to offer. Online sports bettors are privileged in that they gain access to an unprecedented diversity of markets and leagues they can punt on, especially if they join offshore-licensed websites that allow for all kinds of bets other than the parlay. The center of attraction are usually the in-play markets where one can place wagers on games after they have already commenced.
It is no secret to anyone that online sportsbooks offer far more competitive odds than brick-and-mortar betting shops, which is why many Canadian punters prefer to take their betting action on the web. Many would even register accounts at several websites which enables them to draw a comparison and find the most generous odds for the markets they are interested in. This gives them more value since it increases their profits from winning bets. All established sportsbooks would list the decimal odds format which is more convenient for bettors from Canada.
Cross-compatibility is a major plus of placing your wagers online. You can do so on any device you choose since most online sportsbooks would work equally well on desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Most often than not, you will be able to gain access to the sportsbook directly in your mobile browser although some of the largest sportsbooks that welcome Canadians usually give you the chance to install their iOS and Android applications on your smartphone or tablet.
Financial Transaction Security
Security is an underlying trait of all renowned online sportsbooks. If you register with one, there is no need to be concerned your money will end up in the wrong hands. The accepted methods of payment all comply with the security standards of established regulatory bodies like the Financial Services Authority.
In addition to this, online bookies would guarantee the safety of their punters’ money by keeping them in separate trust accounts so that they can withdraw them even if a sportsbook goes out of business due to insolvency. All financial transactions to and from the sportsbooks are protected with high-level encryption technologies, usually 128-bit or 256-bit SSL, which prevents tampering with or stealing your information. Moreover, deposits go through immediately which spares you the hassle of having to wait in line at your local betting shop just to back your favorite team.
Round-the-Clock Customer Care
The online sportsbooks we have tested and recommend on this website all offer round-the-clock customer care facilities where you are only a click away from receiving the information and assistance you seek.
Some of the biggest players in the online sports betting universe would even provide customers from French Canada with the option to receive help in their local French language. There are different avenues one can use to get in touch with customer support but the most time-efficient one is the live chat where you are typically serviced by proactive, helpful and well-mannered staff.
Verifying the Legitimacy of Canada-Friendly Sportsbooks
The most essential thing when signing up with an online sportsbook is verifying whether or not it is of good standing. There are hundreds upon hundreds of online betting sites open to the Canadian market but not all of them are of good repute.
Punters are recommended to keep their eyes wide open when selecting where to bet as well as to be wary of suspicious traits like the absence of licensing, unwarranted bonus funds confiscation, and slow withdrawals. Now, here are several distinctive characteristics of a reputable sportsbook Canadian bettors should look for while on their quest of finding an established bookmaker on the web:
valid licensing issued by a well-known regulatory body or jurisdiction, such as the UK Gambling Commission, the Gibraltar Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, or the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. Some well-known sportsbooks would also operate under the licensing of national governments like Coast Rica, Antigua, and Curacao.
achieving longevity is something all unreliable online sportsbooks fall flat in. Punters from Canada should ensure they are registering at a website of long standing and with a good reputation. This does not mean you should stay away from newly established sportsbooks but before you sign up there, do some research by reading independent reviews and visiting forums where you can check the impressions of punters who have already registered there.
poor customer service can be a major warning sign so if you notice the support staff at your sportsbook of choice is treating you with anything but utmost respect, we advise you to discontinue using its services and transfer to a betting operator that cares enough for its customers to provide them with courteous treatment, adequate help, and exhaustive information.
The withdrawal speed is very important since there is hardly a punter there who wishes to suffer slow cash-outs of their winnings. If you come across reports of slow or declined payouts while reading comments from fellow punters on the web, you should probably consider finding another sports betting operator.
To conclude, we would like to suggest you try some of the online sportsbooks we have tested and ranked ourselves. These are some of the websites with the greatest longevity in the industry that are known for their integrity, fair odds, speedy cash-outs, and competent, prompt customer support, which means you cannot go wrong by choosing one of them.