Legal sports betting has finally arrived in Canada, and one province is already clearly leading the way for the whole country.
Ontario has become the first Canadian province to open its doors to international sportsbooks, and many of the top books from both Europe and the US are already up and running and accepting bets from Ontario residents right now.
Ontario is by far the biggest province in Canada in terms of population.
Huge cities like Toronto and Ottawa are full of sports teams and sports fans and look poised to embrace legal single-game betting in a big way.
It’s early days for Ontario sports betting and the situation is fluid, and this page is your first stop to get up to speed on the best way to bet on Ontario right now.
We’re going deep on everything: a full explainer on the legal side of things, the history of sports betting in Canada, the best sites up and running in Ontario, DFS, a look to the future, and much more.
There has never been a more exciting time to be a Canadian sports betting fan, and nowhere is that truer than Ontario. Let’s find out why.
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Everything changed for Canada thanks to a bill called C-218, which was passed on June 23rd, 2021. The bill meant that every province in the country could legally offer single-game sports betting for the first time if they chose to legislate for it.
Along with various other provinces, Ontario wasted little time.
Here’s a snapshot of how sports betting in Ontario looks:
Let’s unpack all of that a little.
Of all the provinces in Canada, Ontario has been the most proactive with sports betting laws and currently has by far the most sportsbooks available to bet with.
As of June 2021, every province in Canada was legally able to determine its own laws surrounding single-game betting.
The situation was more or less analogous to when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was struck down by the Supreme Court in the US in May 2018, which meant each US state could legislate for sports betting as they wish.
Prior to the passing bill C-218, Ontario residents could bet on sports but only in a reduced capacity as a form of parlay betting – basically combining multiple bets together.
This was the case in many Canadian provinces, but single-game betting (effectively the full-scale form of sports betting available at offshore sites) was banned all over the country.
After C-218, the majority of provinces “(including British Columbia, Quebec, and Alberta) announced plans to formally legalize single-game betting right away, but only at the existing state-run betting sources, run by local lotteries.
Ontario went one step further. Although it also added single-game betting to its existing betting infrastructure – via the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission (OLG) and an online gambling platform called ProLine Plus – Ontario also allowed external betting sites to apply for a license from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
This is the body tasked with regulating the sports betting market in Ontario, and any site that wishes to operate in the province requires a betting license.
They will also have to pay an annual regulatory fee in the region of $100,000, while a 20% tax rate will also be applied to all sportsbooks.
Almost immediately, a steady stream of sportsbooks from the US and Europe began to make their moves to gain access to the burgeoning new market in Ontario.
In addition to sports betting, various other forms of gambling are legal in Ontario. There are up to 30 brick-and-mortar casinos scattered around the province, as well as live poker rooms. Bingo games, the lottery and horse racing are all also legal in Ontario, as well as iGaming and online casino games.
Since the Ontario market opened up to external sportsbooks, plenty of sites have wasted no time in making their move. Whatsmore, there are lots more in the pipeline too.
Below you can see an overview of the sportsbooks up and running in Ontario right now, and click on the links to read our full reviews of each platform.
BetMGM is one of the most widely available sportsbooks in the US. It comes packed with a huge range of betting options and lots of great features, from a parlay building tool to live streaming of sports right on the platform.
This platform arguably has a headstart in Ontario, since its DFS services have been up and running in the country for over a decade. FanDuel has moved fast in the last couple of years to position itself as one of the top sportsbooks in the US, as well as offering casino games and DFS.
Caesars has long been one of the biggest names in US gambling, and its online betting platform has recently massively benefitted from a software redesign. You can also earn real-life rewards at Caesars resorts by betting via the app.
BetRivers was one of the first sportsbooks to get the nod in Ontario. New users benefit from an excellent 4-part welcome bonus, based on your first four deposits.
PointsBet is a pioneering book in North America, thanks to its unique way of betting. If you’re looking for something a little different in Ontario – as well as the largest range of individual bets – this is it.
888 is a massive name in sports betting, online poker, and casino games. Signing up for one gets you access to the full range of 888 platforms.
bet365 was one of the most popular offshore sites in Canada back when single-game betting was illegal. Another massive book from Europe, bet365 is up there with any site in the world in its range of sports and bets on offer.
TheScore Bet is one of the few Canadian books up and running in Ontario, and its existing brand popularity has led to early indications that it’s leading the way in Ontario sports bettors.
DraftKings is one of the biggest and best books in the US. Its launch date in Ontario has in fact been somewhat delayed compared with its competitors, but it’s expected to be one of the most popular options in Ontario.
It remains to be seen exactly how the betting options are going to shake out in Ontario, but the early signs are that Canadians can expect more or less the same betting options as their neighbors across the southern border, along with some special Canada-centric additions.
Those options include tons of ways to bet on NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL, and Soccer, as well as lots of other international sports, from golf and tennis to motor racing and boxing.
Basically, if there’s a popular sporting event gaining traction in Ontario, chances are there will be a book that lets you bet on it.
In terms of which sports will attract the most interest, look no further than the multiple professional sports teams in Ontario.
Toronto alone has the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors, Toronto Blue Jays, and Toronto FC all playing at the top level in North America, with US teams. In the case of the NHL, the Maple Leafs are joined by the Ottawa Senators.
There are also pro teams in the American Hockey League, Canadian Elite Basketball League, Canadian Football League, National Lacrosse League, and more – all of which are likely to attract plenty of action.
Ontario is a big place with a lot of sports fans, and they’re not going to be short on betting options.
Anyone who has experience using sports betting sites or apps in other countries will have no trouble getting set up in Ontario. That’s especially true in the case of the various apps that have made the trip from the United States, where the platforms are very similar to those that exist across the border.
If you’re brand new to online sports betting, or have only used ProLine in the past, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our step-by-step guide to getting set up with a sportsbook in Ontario.
Yes, but the situation is currently uncertain. Daily Fantasy Sports – including FanDuel and DraftKings – have been available in Canada for many years, accepted or ignored by authorities in Ontario and elsewhere in the country.
However, things seem to be changing in Ontario. Both FanDuel and DraftKings have signaled their intention to pause their DFS activities in Ontario as they launch full-scale sports betting platforms.
It appears DFS operators will have to adhere to the same licensing and regulatory framework as sportsbooks in Ontario – including taxation and license fees. Plus, DFS player pools will be limited to Ontario only, rather than nationwide.
This has been a blow to DFS sites in Ontario.
So while Daily Fantasy Sports are indeed legal in Ontario, it looks like the options are to be restricted at least for now.
Ontario’s sports betting history is similar to much of Canada in general. Unlike the US, which had a federal ban on sports betting until 2018, Canada actually had legal sports betting since 1985.
However, it was in a reduced form, such that you could only engage in a form of parlay betting run by local lottery commissions in each province. Regular sports betting – which became commonly referred to as “single game betting” was not legislated for in the Criminal Code, effectively rendering it outlawed.
In the case of Ontario, this kind of parlay betting was available through the ProLine Plus app and various in-person locations – both of which are still in operation in Ontario right now.
The key to introducing full-scale legal sports betting to Ontario – and the rest of Canada – was to edit the Criminal Code to make reference to single game betting.
This project had been gathering pace in the last number of years, thanks in large part to Rep. Kevin Waugh.
The legal status of single-game betting had been a topic of debate in Parliament since around 2015, gradually gaining support both from lawmakers and the major North American sports leagues.
The removal of PASPA in the US in 2018 was also likely to be a contributing factor to attitudes to sports betting in Canada.
Rep. Waugh from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan introduced a private members bill in February 2020 called Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act.
The purpose of the bill was to add some text to paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Criminal Code, to effectively legalize “bookmaking, pool selling or the making or recording of bets, including bets made through the agency of a pool or pari-mutuel system, on any horse-race”.
The bill finally passed in April 2021, paving the way for legal sports betting in Canada.
Much like the removal of PASPA in the US, the passing of Bill C-218 did not mean single-game betting was immediately legal. Instead, each province could legislate for sports betting however they wished.
Ontario acted right away, announcing that legal sports betting would arrive on August 27th 2021, the first day Bill C-218 would be officially active.
ProLine Plus was the first access point for sports betting for Ontarians, and less than a year later, the first international books launched in Ontario.
In a word, exciting.
Up to two dozen books have signaled their intentions to apply for sports betting licenses in Ontario, including tons of the biggest names from around the world.
It looks very much like before long Ontario will rival US states like New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania as the largest sports betting markets in North America, at least in terms of the number of books available.
Speaking in general terms, it’s generally a case of the more books available, the better. More competition means sportsbooks have to get creative to attract bettors, which translates to more offers and promotions for players.
As we’ve mentioned a couple of times, this feels like just the beginning for sports betting in Ontario. Almost a dozen excellent sportsbooks are already accepting bets from Ontario residents, while at least double that are poised to make their move in the nascent industry too.
Whether you want to bet on Canadian, US, or international leagues there is a truly incredible range of betting options out there for Ontarians right now.
Check out our sportsbook reviews to decide which one is right for you, and don’t sleep on your Ontario sports betting options either.
Yes. Full-scale legal sports betting is officially live in Ontario as of April 2022.
You need to be at least 19 years old to bet in Ontario.
Yes, you must be physically located within the province to bet. If you’re using your phone, you’ll need to use GPS or geolocation software to confirm your location.
There are no major restrictions on the betting markets in Ontario. You can expect to bet on the likes of NHL, NFL, MLB, NBA, CFL, lacrosse, and many more, as well as major tournaments like the Super Bowl and the Stanley Cup.
Yes, however, both DraftKings and FanDuel have paused their DFS activities in Ontario while they launch their sportsbooks.
Yes. Mobile betting is totally legal in the Ontario sports betting market.
Yes, betting on horse racing is legal in Ontario.
Many top sportsbooks from the US and Europe have already launched in Ontario, including BetMGM, FanDuel, Caesars, BetRivers, PointsBet, bet365, TheScore Bet, and more.
Yes. Top online sportsbooks almost always include a welcome bonus for new players, such as a no deposit bonus, odds boosts, or free bets.
After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.More info on Richard Janvrin
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