On August 27th, 2021 the Federal Government passed Bill C-218, amending the Criminal Code to allow for single-event sports betting in Canada. Single-event sports betting will now be considered lawful as a lottery scheme under s. 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code. Prior to this bill, sports betting in Ontario was only legally available through parlay betting (bets on multiple sporting events made as a single transaction where each bet needs to be correct). Generally, a parlay will have higher odds, or a lower chance of succeeding, as there are multiple outcomes that need to be correct in order for the sports bettor to receive the expected payout, compared to any single sporting event outcome but this in turn means that the expected payout will be larger for a parlay bet. It is yet to be seen how single-event sports betting in Ontario will impact sports bettors but the change in legislation not only provides for more gambling options for sports enthusiasts, but it also marks the expansion of sports gambling as a whole in Ontario.
In anticipation of the change, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which regulates all areas of gambling in Ontario, created a new subsidiary organization called iGaming Ontario, a distinct legal entity tasked with regulating all online sports betting in Ontario. The AGCO recently announced that iGaming had released the sport and event standards for iGaming, which, among other things, require operators to protect consumers, prohibit insider betting and ensure sport and event offerings (e.g., odds) meet an acceptable betting criterion. Furthermore, operators must register with iGaming, through a convenient online portal, and must execute an Operating Agreement with iGaming in order to be allowed to operate in Ontario. This provides a flexible but secure betting environment that can comfort sports bettors and leagues alike. This is all to fulfill iGaming’s mandate of providing consumers choice, protecting consumers, growing the internet betting market and reducing regulatory burden.
PROLINE+ (one of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) sports betting entities) has already begun accepting single-event sports bets (approximately $750,000 in the first five days of operation). Ontario’s competitive igaming market, its private sportsbook market, has yet to launch, but large industry players, such as DraftKings and FanDuel, have announced they will be entering the Ontario market as sportsbook options. This represents a promising expansion of Ontario’s online sports betting market that will hopefully lead to further growth.
Written by Christian Bekking. Christian is a 3L student at Osgoode Hall Law School and ESLA’s Director of Sponsorships and Events. He is particularly interested in IP Law, Health Law, Sports Law, and Family Law.