Will the Provinces Follow Ontario’s Online Gambling Lead?

Canadians have always enjoyed betting and had plenty of outlets to do so, including lotteries, racetracks, and casinos. But historically the nation’s approach to the online sphere has been altogether less enthusiastic. With Ontario now opening up to online gambling, what do the changes mean and will the rest of the country follow?

Ontario Opens Up to Online Gambling

Canadian gambling regulation is made at the provincial level, and Ontario has always been one of the most pro-betting parts of the country so it’s no surprise it’s at the forefront of a move to shadow the USA in taking a more liberal stance towards online betting.

Both countries had tighter controls regarding online casinos and sports betting, as well as forbidding single event sports betting, until recently. However, the USA has opened up to sportsbooks and online casinos, and drawn a lot of sports bettors from Canada (thanks to the common language and sporting interests between the two nations). In a bid to both benefit from keeping betting revenues within the country and encourage gamblers to play legally rather than betting in the underworld, Canada has likewise enabled single-event sports betting. It’s also now becoming more open to sports and casino betting sites.

Over a dozen operators were signed up and ready to go in Ontario before April 2022 when the newly liberalized online betting sector got going, with more betting firms showing interest. With a large and wealthy population, Ontario was a big draw and is leading the way in Canada for both new sports and casino betting sites. This makes it easier, and safer, than ever before for Canadians to wager on major league sports, Formula 1, and international golf (among other categories).

Playing Online

Canada has, until just recently, had a rather peculiar relationship with online casinos as there were very few domestic betting sites but large numbers of people playing at offshore casinos. This will still be possible as online casinos become more commonplace in Canada, although the number of sites can be daunting when searching for the best Canadian online casinos. To save yourself a lot of time reviewing individual sites and making notes, just check out casino reviews and recent updates regarding the top Canadian online casinos to easily compare the bonuses, games, and other features of the best online betting establishments for players from Canada. It’s quick and easy, which means more time having fun wagering and less time trawling the internet.

Why the Single Event Sports Betting Change Matters 

One of the main factors leading to a rise in betting interest is the end of parlay betting as the only way to wager on sports. In August 2021 legislators amended the law of the land to allow single-event sports betting. This may sound like a relatively trivial change but it echoed a move made in the US and was critical in ensuring Canadian sites could compete with online sports betting sites from south of the border. 

But even had the USA not made this move, a successful sports betting sector within Canada generally, and Ontario specifically, required the ending of parlay betting. This is because a parlay bet is one with multiple contingencies (other countries may refer to them as accumulator or multiple bets). This has two effects: it makes the payout much bigger, and it makes the bet very unlikely to come off. Even five bets each with a roughly 50% chance of coming off individually has, as a parlay bet, just over a 3% chance of paying out. And when countries elsewhere in the world enable single event sports betting doing the same in Canada was essential to provide a level playing field, rather than offering a clearly inferior wagering potential.

Will Other Provinces Follow Ontario’s Lead?

Yes, but perhaps not all of them. Provincial authorities have always been responsible for regulating betting, and some are more enthusiastic about it than others. Arguments have been made against the more open online betting approach by some familiar voices and some perhaps unexpected sources, and while these have not swayed the authorities in Ontario they may do so elsewhere.

Naturally, some people oppose gambling in general and are therefore against more of it. But in addition to these are other people who have real-world gambling establishments and are concerned that easier online betting will harm their businesses, whether that’s casinos or racetracks.

However, the overall argument that won the day in Ontario will do so elsewhere in Canada. Billions of dollars are wagered outside of the country each year by dint of Canadians playing at sites that are offshore, or illegal. By bringing these wagers onshore player protection is improved and much more money flows into Canadian coffers for spending, rather than benefiting other countries. If players are betting on the major leagues, the argument goes, isn’t it better they do so at Canadian sites? Ontario alone is anticipating gross revenue from online sports betting of $800m in the first year. 

Thanks to Ontario’s move, bettors there can now easily, safely, and legally bet on everything from politics and the major leagues to tennis in France. The convenience of online betting is hard to beat, which is why some brick-and-mortar establishments are a little nervous.

Canada’s long-term grey approach to online betting is drawing to a close, starting with Ontario embracing online betting. It is the first such province to do so but is unlikely to be the last.