Legalizing Single Event Sports Betting in Canada: Pros and Cons

Written By Janice Doughtrey

The landscape of sports betting in Canada has been evolving, and one significant development is the potential legalization of single-event sports betting. Currently, Canadian law restricts sports betting to parlay bets, where bettors must wager on multiple events simultaneously. However, discussions are underway to amend the Criminal Code and allow single-event sports betting. This explores the pros and cons of legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada.

Pros of Legalizing Single-Event Sports Betting

Increased Economic Benefits

One of the primary advantages of legalizing single-event sports betting is the potential for increased economic benefits. The Canadian gaming industry stands to gain substantial revenue from this form of betting, generating additional tax revenue for the government. Legalization would also create job opportunities in the sports betting industry, boosting employment and stimulating local economies.

According to a report by Hartmann et al., legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada could generate millions of dollars in annual revenue and contribute to economic growth [^2^]. Legalizing would create a regulated and legitimate market that can better compete with offshore and illegal gambling operators.

Consumer Protection and Regulation

Legalizing single-event sports betting would allow for enhanced consumer protection and regulation. Currently, many Canadians engage in sports betting through unregulated offshore casino websites, exposing them to potential risks. The government can establish safeguards and responsible gambling measures to protect consumers and promote a safer betting environment by legalizing and regulating the activity.

Regulation would include measures such as age verification, identity verification, self-exclusion programs, and problem gambling support services. These provisions can help mitigate the risks associated with gambling and ensure a safer and more controlled betting experience for Canadians.

Sports Integrity and Transparency

Legalizing single-event sports betting can contribute to sports integrity and transparency. With a regulated market, authorities can implement measures to detect and prevent match-fixing, illegal betting activities, and other forms of corruption in sports. Enhanced monitoring and reporting mechanisms can help safeguard the integrity of sports competitions and maintain a level playing field for athletes and teams.

By bringing sports betting into the legal framework, the industry can collaborate with sports organizations and law enforcement agencies to combat match-fixing and uphold the integrity of sports competitions.

Cons of Legalizing Single-Event Sports Betting

Potential for Increased Problem Gambling

One of the main concerns regarding the legalization of single-event sports betting is the potential increase in problem gambling. Critics argue that the ease of access to single-event bets could lead to increased addictive behaviour and gambling-related harms. The risk is particularly significant among vulnerable populations, such as young adults and individuals with pre-existing gambling issues.

Strict regulations and responsible gambling measures must be implemented alongside legalization to address this concern. These measures could include mandatory spending limits, self-exclusion programs, robust player protection initiatives, and public education campaigns on responsible gambling practices.

Social and Ethical Considerations

The legalization of single-event sports betting raises social and ethical considerations. Some argue that widespread access to individual sports bets could normalize and promote excessive gambling behaviour, potentially leading to negative societal consequences. Concerns include financial hardship, relationship problems, and the diversion of resources from other productive activities.

To mitigate these concerns, a comprehensive public health approach that combines prevention, education, and treatment for problem gambling should be incorporated into the legalized single-event sports betting framework.

Impact on Existing Gambling Sectors

The introduction of single-event sports betting could impact existing gambling sectors, particularly provincial lotteries and online gambling platforms that offer parlay bets. The increased competition from single-event betting options could potentially result in a decline in revenue for these sectors. It may require adjustments to the current regulatory framework and business models to accommodate the new market dynamics.

To mitigate the impact on existing sectors, careful planning, collaboration, and coordination among stakeholders are crucial. This includes exploring opportunities for partnerships between existing gambling operators and sportsbooks to diversify their offerings and adapt to the changing landscape.

The potential legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada brings forth both pros and cons. While it offers economic benefits, consumer protection, and sports integrity, there are concerns about problem gambling and social implications. Striking a balance between the advantages and disadvantages requires a comprehensive approach that prioritizes responsible gambling measures, safeguards vulnerable populations, and ensures collaboration among stakeholders.

It is essential for the government to carefully consider the potential impacts, engage in public consultation, and learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions that have legalized single-event sports betting. By adopting a well-regulated and responsible approach, Canada can harness the benefits of this form of sports betting while mitigating potential risks and promoting a safe and enjoyable gambling environment for its citizens.


The potential legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada has sparked a significant debate among various stakeholders. Advocates argue that it would bring numerous benefits, including increased revenue, job creation, and enhanced consumer protection. They point to successful models in other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom and several U.S. states, where legalizing single-event sports betting has proven to be advantageous.

On the other hand, opponents raise concerns about the potential social and economic consequences. They argue that expanded access to sports betting may lead to an increase in problem gambling, particularly among vulnerable populations. They also express apprehension about potential match-fixing and the integrity of sports.

To address these concerns, it is crucial to implement robust regulatory frameworks that prioritize responsible gambling measures, strict licensing requirements, and effective oversight. This includes promoting education and awareness about responsible gambling, establishing self-exclusion programs, and providing support for individuals who may be at risk of developing gambling-related problems.

Collaboration among various stakeholders, including government bodies, gambling operators, sports organizations, and addiction support services, is essential to ensure a balanced and effective approach to the potential legalization of single-event sports betting. Learning from the experiences of other jurisdictions and considering the unique Canadian context will be key in shaping a regulatory framework that maximizes the benefits while minimizing the risks.

Overall, the decision to legalize single-event sports betting in Canada requires careful consideration of the potential social, economic, and regulatory implications. It is essential to strike a balance between generating revenue, protecting consumers, and upholding the integrity of sports. With proper regulation and responsible gambling measures in place, Canada can potentially create a well-regulated and thriving sports betting market that benefits both the industry and the Canadian population.

  1. “The Pros and Cons of Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada” – The Concordian – Link
  2. “Single-event sports betting in Canada: Potential impacts” – Gambling Research Exchange Ontario – Link
  3. “WSN – Sports Betting Canada” – WSN – Link
  4. “Liberal government to introduce bill legalizing single-event sports betting” – CBC News – Link
  5. Photo by Folco Masi on Unsplash