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Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act 2021

Darren December 27, 2021

The Bill C218: Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act came into effect earlier this year making single-event sports betting legal in Canada. The purpose of the bill is to put single-event sports betting into a controlled and safe environment.

Canada safe and regulated sports betting

The federal government stated on August 12, 2021 that Bill C218: Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill) will take effect on August 27, 2021, making single-event sports betting legal in Canada.

The Bill, according to the Minister of Justice David Lametti, will put single-event sports betting into a controlled and safe environment. At the same time it will strengthen the Canadian economy. The launch sets the groundwork for major sports leagues to build a regulatory framework ahead of their regular seasons.

There have been several attempts since 2011 to revise the Code to remove the prohibition on betting on specific events. Over the last decade, members of Parliament from all three parties have introduced or backed relatively similar bills. However they have perished on arrival. The vote marks the victorious conclusion of a ten-year battle for gaming stakeholders and advocacy groups in Canada.


What does safe and regulated sports betting mean for gamblers?

Canada’s provincial governments may now provide their citizens the opportunity to gamble on the Stanley Cup or the World Cup in a safe and secure manner. This ensures Canadian punters do not fall prey to unscrupulous and unregulated overseas bookmakers. This law brings this aspect of the industry into the open. It allows governments to exercise appropriate oversight over what is a fairly frequent kind of entertainment that Canadians have had to seek outside the borders until now.

Sports betting is a multibillion-dollar industry in Canada. The majority of the money going offshore to unregulated and illegal sports bookies. According to estimates, Canadians account for up to 13% of all sports bets placed with offshore sports betting companies around the world. In 2016, it was reported that Canadians wagered $4 billion on illicit offshore sports betting sites. Compare this to barely $500 million on provincial sports lotteries like Sport Select. The Canadian government expects that by permitting single event wagers, Bill C-218 will be able to cut into the estimated almost 90% market share currently held by offshore sports bookies. The knock on effect of this is to keep the Canadian dollar strong.

Single-event betting will now be implemented at the provincial level in Canada. Almost all provinces currently offer sports-betting services to their residents through their various lottery businesses. Expanding their betting options to include single events alongside their lottery offerings will be a straightforward process in most circumstances. As a result, we do not believe Bill C-218 will necessitate significant changes to the way sportsbooks are conducted (legally) in Canada.


Different rules for sports betting in Ontario

The province of Ontario is the one significant exception. It is now establishing an unprecedented new licence, tax, and regulatory structure for internet gaming that will include sports betting. The online regulatory system is expected to be in place by the end of the fourth quarter of 2021 in Ontario. With the approval of Bill C-218, private sportsbooks that have secured a license from the Province of Ontario will be able to offer betting services to Ontario residents, including single event betting, by 2022.

Toronto skyline


We expect other jurisdictions to keep a close eye on Ontario over the next two years. They will observe how successfully this new structure works. Perhaps more crucially they will assess how much income is generated from private online gambling operators’ taxes. If Ontario generates significant net money from this source, other Canadian provinces’ finance ministers are likely to urge that their governments consider instituting a similar arrangement for online gambling. It remains to be seen how the Bill will be implemented. Also, exactly how it will work alongside existing brick and mortar casinos across the country. These business have been forced to close their doors for much of the last year as a result of the legislation.


Safe and Regulated Sports Betting custodians

The focus will be on keeping the industry safe and responsible. Upon hiring, all employees must be trained on the content and application of the policies and procedures. Training programs should be reviewed and evaluated for effectiveness on a regular basis. Reviews will ensure that industry best practices are being followed and that the policies and procedures’ stated objectives are met. Advertising, marketing materials, and communications may not knowingly be transmitted or provided to high-risk, underage, or self-excluded persons. 

Only eligible individuals are permitted to create a player account. Only those who have a legitimate player account are permitted to log on to their account to bet. Operators must include systems to identify and dynamically track the location of a player attempting to play a game. Furthermore they must block unauthenticated attempts to play. Unless they are run in collaboration with the government of another province, games on gaming sites can only be played within Ontario. Furthermore, when a player registers, regulated organizations must collect and save pertinent player information. This is especially concerning information required by the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act. Regulated entities must also make a reasonable attempt to notify players of any money left in dormant accounts.


Transparent reporting

Any regulated gaming system must be able to provide the player and the Registrar with personalized and on-demand reports. The purpose of the game, the wagers that can be made, how the game is conducted, the odds of winning, and the operator’s statistical advantage must all be clearly documented in the game specifications. Operators must make the game unavailable to players if there are suspected game or system flaws that could compromise game integrity or fairness. A player’s bet and the game’s conclusion must be clearly displayed, easy to understand, and available for the player to evaluate for an extended period of time. Players must be given clear instructions on how to report collusion and cheating actions. The method must be simple to use and accessible to any player who wishes to file a report.

At any gaming site, mechanisms must be put in place to reasonably identify and prohibit illegal activity. Anti-money laundering policies and procedures must also be implemented. They must be enforced to meet requirements under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act. Operators must take reasonable steps to identify and prevent any suspected money laundering activities.

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