Canada’s new sports betting laws are unknown to the vast majority of Canadians

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Aerial view of Canada's Parliament Buildings

File:Parliament Hill from a hot air balloon, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Tsai Project.

  • Canada’s sports betting laws underwent massive reforms last year
  • Most prospective bettors in Canada are totally unaware of the sweeping legislative changes
  • Check out the results of a recent report on single game sports betting in Canada

In August 2021, Canada’s federal ban on single-game sports betting was lifted thanks Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act. The ban on single match betting dates back to 1985 and has largely become entrenched in the national consciousness due to its longstanding nature.

While the new legislation wasn’t smuggled through the proverbial back door, it wasn’t announced from above either. With the legislative changes, it is clear that the vast majority of Canadians are unaware of their new sports betting landscape.

Deloitte report suggests Canadians are unaware of new sports betting laws

Accounting firm Deloitte publishes a Report 2022 entitled Betting Opportunities: How Organizations Can Win in the New World of Canadian Sports Betting and contains some truly amazing statistics on the level of knowledge in the Great White North when it comes to Canada’s sports betting legal framework.

In fact, in the first sentence of the Key Insights section of the report, “Most Canadians don’t know that they can now bet on single-game sports.” It clarifies that exactly 19.2% of adults in the country know that single game sports betting is now legal.

One area the report fails to emphasize is that while the single-game sports betting ban has been abolished, the new regulatory framework leaves it up to individual provinces to create and implement their own sports betting industry. And until now, those industries just don’t exist.

Ontario sportsbook is currently scheduled to go online on April 4, 2022.

The lack of education may be due in part to lack of availability. In other words, while the Canadian sports betting legal system has theoretically changed, the Canadian experience is essentially the same as before Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act came into effect.

That doesn’t mean Canadians can’t bet on sports right now: it’s estimated that Canadians already wager over $14 billion in offshore sports betting, operating in a legal gray area, at least up to this point, by offering their services Canadian. (The bettors themselves have not broken any Canadian laws by using the offshore sportsbook.)

But as individual provinces begin to create their own sports betting markets, knowledge of the new legal landscape will surely grow. One of the most important educators in the United States is sports betting itself. With the legalization of online betting, sports betting advertising has also been legalized.

AdWeek estimates that US sportsbooks spent nearly $350 billion on advertising in 2021 alone. DraftKings Sportsbook made its first big showing with two ads during Super Bowl 2021. During the 2022 Super Bowl, both DK and Caesars Sportsbook aired commercials that cost $6.5 million per 30-second slot (a full $1 million more than 2021).

2022 Stanley Cup odds tracker

How many Canadians are interested in sports betting?

A key takeaway from the Deloitte report is that lack of knowledge is not due to lack of interest. The report found that almost 38% of Canadians have either placed a sports bet in the past year or were interested in doing so in the near future. This is an encouraging number for sportsbooks looking to Canada as a future marketplace.

A report from the Company Nielsen in the United States in August 2021 found that 46% of Americans had “at least some interest” in sports betting. While this number appears to dwarf the Canadian number reported by Deloitte, the question was worded slightly differently. Furthermore, the Nielsen report was released when US online betting was already legal in numerous states and online betting advertising was rampant.

Sportsbook directors will certainly hope that the number of Canadians interested in sports betting will increase again as sports betting education in Canada improves. And if Canadians are anything like their neighbors to the south, interest will indeed increase in the coming months.

Sasha Paruk

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Lead Oddsmaker & Editor

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