Canadian Gambling History
In many countries the laws pertaining to online gambling were written before the Internet was even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye. In Canada’s case the laws were written when the country barely had electricity. The Canadian Criminal Code was formulated in 1892 when Parliament went on a moral rampage and stamped out all gambling. Only horse racing managed to escape the great purge.
There were cracks in the government resolve over the years. In 1969, with a pressing need to pay for the upcoming Montreal Olympic Games lotteries were allowed. Then in 1985 the Criminal Code essentially washed the federal hands of gambling and turned the matter over to each individual province to decide as they wished. Today there are no national or provincial statutes that flat out say it is legal to operate a gambling operation but there are also none that say you can’t either.
The first operators to test this murky regulatory void were the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, a small First Nations tribe. In 1996 the Kahnawake began licensing online casinos, online poker rooms and online sportsbooks. To date no government has stepped in to impede the Kahnawake Gaming Commission as their empire has grown to licensing some 250 online gaming sites, including Bovada Sports. But Bovada, which began life as Bodog birthed by Canadian entrepreneur Calvin Ayre, operates from Antigua and not Canada so we won’t consider it a Canadian site.
Canadian Regulated Gaming Sites
Instead of dealing with offshore sportsbooks and legislative prohibitions, Canada’s most populated provinces have chosen to compete with their own gambling sites run by their lottery. Current Providence gaming sites:
Only Espace Jeux and PlayNow currently offer sports betting, but these sportsbooks aren’t nearly as good as the larger sportsbooks like Pinnacle Sports, Sports Interaction and Bodog..
The sportsbook at PlayNow offers a full range of sports (except horse racing) with NHL hockey getting top billing. PlayNow also offers live in-game betting. Hockey also rules the roost at Espace Jeux and they regularly give away tickets to see the Canadiens play at the Montreal Forum. There is no in-game wagering and like PlayNow the Quebec sports betting site also offers online casino play.
Is Sports Betting Legal In Canada?
Currently in Canada, it is legal for local provincial government to offer sports betting, although this betting is somewhat limited in the fact that only Parlays covering more than one game are allowed. With the lack of competition, the prices on offer will not be particularly good. Apart from the provincial government run Sportsbooks, it is illegal to offer sports betting from within Canada.
However many offshore sites are available to sports bettors in Canada, and it seems there is no law preventing a Canadian from using these sites. Similarly to the US, no Canadian has ever been charged with illegal online sports betting, but once again the legality issue is not 100% clear. Financial transactions between individuals and offshore sports books are often tricky from Canada. This is due to banks and payment processors making sure they do not get tangled up in any illegal US transactions, rather than any Canadian laws.