Legalized Sports Betting In Canada Won’t Change Much

Note: This article was written in March 2012, when pro-gambling Bill C-290 was passed in the House of Commons. C-290 later died in the Senate. 

So legalized online sports betting could be coming to the province of Ontario, and perhaps the rest of Canada?

Please excuse us while we yawn.

Even with the recent passing of legislation that could allow the government to offer single-game wagering in Canada, we don’t see much advantage in it for sports bettors who already prefer using online sportsbooks.

If you’re at all familiar with Proline, you know that the provincial lotteries stack the odds against us. Not only does Proline require you to bet a minimum of two games (and most often three) at a time, it also doesn’t pay you even close to what you should be paid if you win all your games.

Don’t expect things to change that much if and when the government starts offering single-game wagering, either.


Government Sports Betting Odds Will Be Worse Than Vegas

Las Vegas sportsbooks typically offer point spread betting with a “juice” (or vigorish) structure of -110. In other words, you need to lay 11 to win 10, or 110 to win 100, and so forth. At that juice structure, bettors need to win 52.5 per cent of their wagers in order to break even.

We’ll be shocked if the Canadian government doesn’t install a juice structure that stacks the odds against bettors even more. Even a structure of -120 on single-game wagers (meaning bettors have to lay 12 to win 10) would require bettors to win 54.5 per cent of their wagers — a percentage that could be quite profitable at -110 odds — just to break even.

Several offshore sportsbooks, meanwhile, offer odds of better than -110. Pinnacle Sports continues to offer the best odds in the business, generally charging in the -104 to -105 range, while 5Dimes is also a reduced-juice book that allows bettors to profit while winning just 52.5 per cent of their wagers.

Other disadvantages to regulated sports betting

Other potential disadvantages to using the government’s sportsbooks would be lower limits (the amount you can bet on a game), less variety of games offered (particularly NCAA basketball and football) and less betting options (live betting during games, half-time wagering, prop betting, teasers, etc.).

You can also forget about getting lucrative deposit and reload bonuses offered by offshore sportsbooks like Bet365, SportsInteraction and Bodog.

And don’t for a minute believe that if you don’t use the government’s online sports betting to make your bets, you’ll end up in jail. There’s nothing specific in the Criminal Code that suggests it is illegal to bet online with offshore sportsbooks, nor does Canada have anything equivalent to the Wire Act in the U.S.

That’s why online betting sites have long been the answer for Canadians who refuse to accept the horrible odds offered to them by Proline and other provincial lotteries.

We’re willing to bet that this new legislation won’t change that, either.