Canada and the USA have both been more prudish when it comes to betting, especially online,
compared to their European counterparts, but the laws in both countries have changed recently,
making it easier than ever to bet online. This is true of both sports betting and online casinos.
How Sports Betting Used To Be
Sports betting in Canada and the United States of America used to be highly limited. Even in
places where you could actually place a bet in Canada, this had to come in the form of parlay
betting. For players from the United Kingdom or continental Europe, this is the same as a multiple or
an accumulator bet, a multi-stage bet that requires every single contingency to come off for the bet
to pay out (such as predicting the results of half a dozen football matches). Naturally, this meant
payouts were higher due to longer odds but also made betting far less appealing to most people due
to the low chances of success.
This has, however, changed, bringing both North American nations closer to the situation that
has long been the case on the other side of the Atlantic. And not before time, as sports are even
more popular than the likes of Harry Potter when it comes to entertainment, and the chance to bet on
them fairly and legally has been welcomed by most people.
Sports betting is not the only area where substantial liberalization has occurred in recent years,
with online casinos now far more accessible in North America than they were a decade ago.
Canadian legislation is a little grey, with offshore betting the way most people choose to play, while
increasing numbers of US states are legalizing onshore casinos. An in-house legal advisor at www.online-casinos.ca researched and put together a list of top gambling legal experts for those who want to know more about the ins and outs of how
things stand in Canada.
Changes in the American Law
The US has long been more hardline when it comes to betting opposition, but in 2018 the
Supreme Court struck down a federal law (the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act)
that prohibited bets on football, basketball, baseball, and other sports in various states. In addition,
the same ruling gave the green light to states that wanted to legalize sports betting. While not every
state has opted for this (Utah and Hawaii being the stand out opponents of sports betting), many
states have by now either implemented laws to enable sports betting, or are in the process of doing
Previously, Nevada had been the only state in which an individual could make a single event
sports bet. Illegality proved little bar to betting, though, with around $150bn illegally bet on sports
by Americans, according to the American Gaming Association. Ironically, this liberalizing attitude
towards betting (as with certain types of drugs) is in completely the opposite direction to recent abortion law changes.
Canada Follows Suit
It’s slightly counter-intuitive that Canada should lag behind the USA on this matter, given
Canadians have historically been more accepting of betting, but it was partly due to fears of losing
custom to a more liberal American approach that led Canadian lawmakers to ditch the parlay betting
requirement for sports. Bill C-218 decriminalized single event sports
betting and came into force on 27 August 2021.
As the MP for St. Catharines, Chris Bittle, explained, the measure is designed to help fight the
black market which not only removes funding for criminal enterprise but also increases the tax
revenue of Canada and boosts the country’s economy. Given the Canadian Gaming Association
estimate of single event sports betting via the black market being worth some $10bn a year, the
potential for increased tax revenue is substantial
Single event sports betting has thus been legalized in Canada and remains under the control of
individual provinces and territories, excepting horse racing (which is still under the auspices of the
Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency).
And that concisely sums up how betting laws have changed for the better in both Canada and
the USA, enabling more people to freely bet on single event sports betting on a state-by-state (or