Sportsbook 101: The basics to betting in Canada

·6-min read
Here's what you need to know if you plan on making a sports wager in Canada as the laws officially loosen up on Friday. (Getty)
Here's what you need to know if you plan on making a sports wager in Canada as the laws officially loosen up on Friday. (Getty)

On Aug. 27, Bill C-218 comes into effect, allowing Canadians to legally wager on single sports events. 

Although the bill was passed through the federal government, the onus will be on provincial governments to determine exactly how it will move forward with the new legislation.

Where can you make single-event wagers?

Starting on Aug. 27, these provinces will be accepting single-event bets:

Ontario — Ontarians are able to sign up and start making single-event wagers via the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's Proline+ system.

British Columbia — In B.C., the British Columbia Lottery Corporation is partnering with Genius Sports, which will become the BCLC's data provider. B.C. residents will be able to bet on single-event sports using the Play Now website. 

Quebec — Quebec citizens will be allowed to place single-event bets through Loto Quebec. The option to bet on just one event will be available both online and at retailers.

In the coming weeks and months, private-run sportsbooks will also start becoming readily available across Canada.

Understanding single-event sports betting

While Canadians have been able to bet on sports in the past, previous legislation has prevented residents from betting on just one specific event.

The new legislation will allow Canadians to pick one single sporting event to bet on, rather than only being given the option of parlaying multiple matches and outcomes. Bettors will still be able to parlay, but naturally, the chance of winning a single-event bet is better than the chance of winning multiple events.

What is a 'moneyline' wager?

Moneyline wagers are made when picking the outcome of an event. Money line wagers are common in all sports and they are presented like this:

Montreal (+130) at Toronto (-150)

In this example, a $1 bet on Montreal will win a bettor $1.30, paying out $2.30 in total (initial bet + winning = payout). A $10 bet will pay $23 and a $100 bet will pay $230.

A $1 bet on Toronto will win $0.67, paying out $1.67. A $10 wager will pay $16.67 and a $100 bet will pay $166.67. 

Montreal is being provided "plus odds" in this scenario, making it the underdog. The number next to the plus is used to determine the winnings of a $100 bet. In this case and as stated above, a $100 bet will win $130 and pay $230. Toronto has a negative number next to it, indicating that it is the favourite. The number next to the negative illustrates how much money a bettor must wager in order to return $100. In this instance, a $150 bet on Toronto is required to win $100 and a payout of $250.

What is a 'point spread' wager?

Betting on an event with a point spread is much different than betting on an event with a moneyline. For a point spread wager, a bettor will pick the outcome of the game while also considering the spread, which offers a margin of victory either side must cover in order for the bet to cash. Point spread wagers are equally common to moneyline wagers and will look like this:

Green Bay (+3.5) (-110) at Buffalo (-3.5) (-110)

In this example, the 3.5 on either side indicates the number of points that will be added or subtracted from Green Bay and Buffalo's total. +3.5 states that a bettor will be selecting Green Bay to win this event while also receiving +3.5 points to the team's total. A bettor selecting Buffalo will have to lay or subtract 3.5 points from Buffalo's total. In summary, a Green Bay bettor will need the team to win outright or lose the game by three points or less to cover, while a Buffalo bettor needs the team to win by four points or more to cover.

The -110, just like it does with a moneyline event, indicates the return on a wager. In this example, the 110 next to Buffalo and Green Bay states that a bettor must place a $110 bet in order to win $100 and to pay $210. Not all point spread bets will feature a -110 line, but it's very common.

What is a 'total' wager?

Betting on totals is different from betting on the outcome of a game. Instead of picking the winner or loser of a sporting match, a total bet requires selecting whether or not a points, runs, or goals total will go over or under the provided line for a specific event. Here's how a total line is typically presented:

Milwaukee at Toronto

O 240.5 points (-110)

U 240.5 points (-110)

In this instance, the provided line for this basketball game between Milwaukee and Toronto is 240.5 points. The provided line is the implied points total for the game. A bet on the over will win if Milwaukee and Toronto combine for more than 240.5 points. A bet on the under will win if Toronto and Milwaukee combined for less than 240.5 points. 

As noted above, the -110 indicates how much is needed to bet in order to win $100. In this case, a $110 wager will win $100.

What is a 'prop' bet?

A prop bet is a wager that is not directly related to the final outcome of the game. Prop bets can be tied to the number of shots, pass attempts, goals, receptions, and other components of a sporting event. Here's an example of a prop bet:

Connor McDavid: 2.5 shots

Over (-160)

Under (+140)

In order for the over to cover, McDavid must take three shots or more. For the under to cover, McDavid must take two shots or less. As stated above, the over requires a $160 wager to win $100 and pay $260, while the under will win $140 on a $100 wager and pay $240.

What is a 'futures' bet?

A futures bet can be made when wagering on a league MVP, league champion, conference champion, team win total, or any event that requires a longer period of time to determine the outcome.

What is a 'push'?

A push occurs when the outcome of an event results in a tie. Here's what a push looks like:

Calgary (-1) at Ottawa (+1)

In the event listed above, Calgary must win by more than one to cover, while Ottawa must win the game in order to cover. The line is set at one, however, which invites the possibility of Calgary winning by one, and leading to a push. When a push occurs, the amount wagered is returned to the bettor.

Happy gaming, Canada!

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