Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada
Single-event sports betting is one of the most discussed policy initiatives in recent months and years. Unfortunately, these talks have not yielded any concrete legislation yet, but with Bill C-13 and Bill C-218 gaining momentum, sports betting in Canada could be a reality soon. The concept of single-event sports betting is simple, and it is already one of the fastest-growing areas of online gaming entertainment, so this guide breaks down what it is, and how new legislation will change single-event sports betting in Canada.
What is Single-Event Sports Betting?
Simply put, single-event sports betting is a situation where a bettor is allowed to wager on only one event when betting on sports. This means that bettors can wager on just one event on, like who will win a particular game (a moneyline bet) or if a team will cover a particular point spread (ATS), or you could place a single futures bet on an upcoming event (i.e. who will win next year’s Stanley Cup).
For example, let’s say the Montreal Canadiens are playing the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Leafs are favoured by 1.5 goals at Spin Sports. You can bet on the Leafs to cover the -1.5 goal spread (and therefore win by two goals), the Canadiens to cover the +1.5 goal spread (and therefore lose by one goal or win the game outright), or either team to win the game outright (moneyline). Of course, the odds are different for each of these selections.
You can also make picks on the total (sometimes called the over/under) number of points scored in a game, depending on if you think a particular game will be high or low scoring. Single-event bets can also be placed on props, like if a certain player will score a goal or a touchdown, or what quarter will have the most total points scored in a basketball or football game.
Single-Event Sports Bets
Single-event bets are in contrast to parlay betting, where you are required to place bets on a combination of events (at least two). With single-event sports betting, bettors have a greater chance of winning, though in smaller amounts than on a parlay. Parlay bets are wagers where you have multiple events on one card.
In parlay betting, the odds are all multiplied together, but in order to win the bet, you need to hit each bet on the card. This means that if you bet on the winner of five different football games, you need all five of your predictions to be correct, or you’ll lose your entire bet. This makes parlay bets much tougher to win than single-game bets, though when they do hit, the reward can be very high.
Pros and Cons of Single-Event Betting
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of single-event betting.
Benefits of Single-Event Betting
The profitability of single-event sports betting is promising, as it offers a higher win percentage than parlay betting. It is much less certain to bet on at least two sporting events, because there is no common variable binding these two separate events. Parlays are generally not allowed when the two events being combined are in any way related (like a player’s chances of scoring a touchdown, and his team winning the game), so you really do have to be right about two very separate events.
With single-event betting, there are much easier wins to be had, especially if you are just getting started and want to bet on some big favourites. With single-event betting, you’re also free to bet on a particular upset or long-shot pick that you have a good feeling about, without having to worry about combining your long-shot with other selections that may ruin your bet.
Disadvantages of Single-Event Betting
The main downside of betting on single events is the lower odds that you get, and thus, the lower potential rewards. With parlays, you can conceivably turn a $5 wager into thousands of dollars, if you string together enough unlikely events on one ticket. For bettors who want low risks and the chances for huge rewards, single-event betting is not for you.
There are some individual prop bets that have high odds, but it is difficult to get the same kind of high potential parlay winnings with single-event bets. Also, if you only want to spend a little bit of money, but want to bet on multiple different games, parlay betting is the only way to do so.
How to Bet on Single Games in Sports Wagering
Single-game betting is, by a mile, the easiest and lowest-risk way to place bets on sporting events. You do not have to be an experienced bettor to record successes in this type of betting, especially if you are only interested in small payouts. The process is very straightforward, as all you have to do is identify the event on whichever sportsbook you will be using and set your wager. If you choose only favourites, your chances of winning can be pretty high.
Is Single-Event Betting Legal in Canada?
Canada’s Criminal Code, which regulates gambling (among other criminal acts) in the country, currently deems single-event betting illegal, leaving local sports betting companies to offer only parlay-type bets online, in land-based casinos, and in other stores that offer lottery-type games. Any wager placed on a single match or sporting event is illegal and is punishable under the Criminal Code. However, an estimated $10 billion per year is still spent on single-game betting in Canada or by Canadians.
This is possible because the federal Criminal Code does not prohibit online, offshore companies that offer single event betting. This grey area in the Code has been used by individuals looking to enjoy the perks of single event betting legally in the country.
History of Single-Event Sports Betting Legislation in Canada
For years, efforts have been made to legalize and regulate single-event sports betting in Canada, but all have been futile so far.
- Bill C-627 Fails to Pass in the House of Commons
- COVID-19 Halted Legislation Attempts in early 2020
- Bill C-13 and Bill C-218 Discussed by the Federal Government in 2020/2021
2011 marked the start of this move for legalization after Joe Comartin introduced Bill C-627 in the House of Commons, but it failed to pass the first reading. Through the years, several other attempts to regulate single sports betting in Canada have been shut down, with the last opposition coming from the ruling Liberal Party in 2016. In February 2020, Bill C-218 was reintroduced to the House, but progress was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which shifted the attentions of the House to more pressing matters. In the early months of 2021, Bill C-218 and similar Bill C-13 progressed to the Justice Committee for study and will receive further rounds of voting before being approved or discarded.
Seeing that single-event betting is not yet legal has not stopped Canadians from getting in on the action, as they have looked to offshore bookies for the chance to wager on single sports events. As long as this remains the case, bettors will continue to use these sites.
Importance of Single-Event Sports Betting
Single-event sports betting can be beneficial to both bettors and to the Canadian government, if it becomes legal. Bettors will have more leverage to increase their winning potential and will only have to worry about their odds and predictions rather than the legality of what they’re doing.
The Canadian Gaming Association has also come out in support of Bill C-218, noting the significant revenue that the industry can bring to the country. Sports wagering in Canada has the chance to be a huge money maker for the Canadian government, and it could also allow for proper regulation of the industry.
Lottery games like Pro-Line or Mis-o-Jeu have seen Canadians gamble roughly $500 million a year in parlay bets with low chances of success. It is not impossible to win with parlay bets, but it is best left for big risk-takers and those looking to score big with a considerably lower stake. Legalizing sports betting could also help improve casino revenue, as sports wagering at casinos would provide a whole new dimension to the experience.
Will Canada Legalize Single-Event Sports Betting?
For the government, there are several reasons to legalize single-event sports betting including consumer protection, crime prevention, and of course revenue generation. The increased revenue from legalized single-event gambling can be used to sustain other programs such as health care and education, instead of allowing offshore online bookmakers to take billions of dollars out of the Canadian economy.
Understandably, the government might not want to portray an image of sanctioning the expansion of sports betting, considering the vices that could follow and could be pinned on them. Also, parlay betting curtails the increased risk of match-fixing.
Bill C-13 vs. Bill C-218
The two major Bills currently being discussed and voted on to legalize single-event sports betting in Canada are largely similar in contents and intent. The only significant difference between the two pieces of hopeful legislation are that Bill C-13 excludes horse racing. The government excluded horse racing from C-13 as it is already governed by the federal Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency. If made law, both bills would legalize online sports betting in Canada and in-person wagering across the country.
On Feb. 17, 2021, Bill C-218 passed a second reading by a count of 303 to 15, and moved to committee. Bill C-13 lags slightly behind the timeline of Bill C-218 with discussions in the House of Commons slated for early and mid-March 2021.
The Future of Single-Event Betting in Canada
Looking at it from these points of view might help you understand the reluctance of the Canadian government to legalize single-event sports gambling. However, what better way to control these outcomes than to regulate it? Current law in Canada still does not entirely stop single-event betting, as individuals are scratching this itch by visiting offshore bookies rather than keeping their money local.
Given these competing interests, as well as the still-raging COVID-19 pandemic, it is hard to say exactly when Bill C-218 will pass and usher in a new era of legal single game sports betting in Canada. However, given the push from professional sports leagues and the legalization of sports betting all over the U.S., it is no longer a matter of “if”, but rather “when” this change will take place. For the wagering folks, banking on legal single-event sports wagering in Canada at some point in 2021 seems like a safe bet.