On August 27, 2021, British Columbia launched single-game sports betting on PlayNow.com. B.C. officially offers legal sports betting both online and in person. The westernmost province of Canada operates the nation’s only retail sportsbook (PlayNow) at the Match Eatery & Public House in New Westminster’s Starlight Casino.
British Columbia was in position to offer single-game betting via the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). In February 2021, the BCLC projected British Columbia could generate between $125 million and $175 million in revenue with the legalization of single-event sports betting.
On August 3, 2021, the BCLC selected Genius Sports Limited as its official data provider while preparing for Canada’s new landscape of sports betting. Despite offering single-game sports betting, offshore sportsbooks account for a lot of the action out the West.
British Columbia Sports Betting
Players in British Columbia enjoy many gaming options, ranging from large-scale land-based casinos offering an array of slots, table games and poker rooms, to horse racing, to provincially-owned and operated lotteries, sports betting games and online casinos.
A large number of BC players also take advantage of online sportsbooks, casinos and poker rooms that are based offshore and offer features and competitive odds that may not be available through provincially-operated gaming options.
As is the case in other Canadian provinces, the British Columbia government holds a monopoly on gaming and sports betting in the province, which is regulated by the Ministry of Finance's Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. The British Columbia Lottery Corporation conducts and manages commercial gaming in the province.
Gaming Laws In British Columbia
The Gaming Control Act of 2002 governs all gaming and sports betting activities in the province of British Columbia. According to the Act, the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB) regulates all gaming in the province, ensures the integrity of gaming industry companies and suppliers, and conducts investigations of wrongdoing.
British Columbia Lottery Corporation
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) conducts and manages all gaming operations in the province including ticket lotteries, casinos, bingo, electronic gaming and slots, sports betting games and online gaming offerings such as BCLC's PlayNow.com online gaming site. Horse racing in BC is regulated directly by the Racing Division of the GPEB.
While First Nations play a key role in the operation of some land-based casinos in BC, provincial government policy dictates that they are subject to the same rules and regulations as all other individuals and companies in the province. First Nations can host land-based casinos; however such facilities continue to be operated by the BCLC, who then engage in revenue sharing with the host First Nation.
BCLC is also one of five members of the Inter-Provincial Lottery Corporation which operates popular lottery games across Canada including Lotto 649 and Lotto Max.
Sports Betting In British Columbia
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation offers sports betting games through retailers in the province and through PlayNow.com, BCLC's online gaming portal.
Six sports betting games are available including Oddset 3-Outcome, Oddset 2-Outcome, Point Spread, Over/Under, Toto and Props.
Oddset 3-Outcome And Oddset 2-Outcome
Oddset 3-Outcome and Oddset 2-Outcome are odds-based sports betting games that allow players to place parlay wagers on two to six events, with the option to bet on a home win, visitor win or tie for each event. All events wagered on must win for the ticket to be a winner, with bet amounts ranging from $2 to $100.
Point Spread, Over/Under, Toto, And Props
With Point Spread, players can wager on parlays of two to 12 events, with payoffs ranging from 2x bet on a two-event parlay up to 475x bet on a successful 12-game parlay.
Over/Under operates similar to Point Spread, except that the number of events available to play as a parlay ranges from two to 10.
Toto and Props allow players to wager on 11 to 13 set games available on a selection sheet, with the winner or winners taking home a share of the prize pool.
No Single Team Sports Betting
Unlike online sportsbooks operating offshore, BCLC's sports betting offerings do not include single-game betting, which is prohibited under Canada's Criminal Code. Specific numbers are not published on the house edge enjoyed by BCLC's sports betting offerings.
However, with betting odds falling closely in line with Ontario's PRO-LINE sports lottery products, the speculation is that BCLC's house edge closely mirrors the 38.65 percent level achieved in 2011 by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Conversely, online sportsbooks operating offshore typically have a house edge well under 10 percent.
Poker And Casino In British Columbia
BCLC owns and operates 17 casinos, six bingo halls and 19 community gaming centres across the province.
Poker players looking for a game in BC will find action at a BCLC casino. However, stand-alone land-based poker rooms are not available in the province.
The province's 17 casinos offer an array of table games, as well as electronic and reel slots, and video poker. Two of the province's casinos are co-located with horse racetracks, while six locations offer racebooks.
BCLC also provides land-based gaming options on a smaller scale under their "Chances" brand. Chances locations offer slots, video poker, and traditional games such as Keno and paper-based and electronic Bingo, as well as lottery games and off-track betting.
Online Poker Rooms
Online poker rooms are available at PlayNow.com, BCLC's online gaming portal, featuring tournament play that gives players the opportunity to win seats at events such as the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
The BCLC's house edge on poker and poker style games ranges between 2% and 8.5%, depending on the type of game and type of bet being made.
Other Gaming Options In British Columbia
A government monopoly in the province of British Columbia, BCLC controls all gaming and sports betting operating within the province. However, gaming enthusiasts and sports bettors looking for greater options and more of an edge still have alternatives.
Online sportsbooks such as Bodog and 5Dimes are growing in popularity among sports bettors across Canada. Established for many years and owning a strong reputation for integrity, the online sportsbooks offer betting options not available at government-run casinos, including single-game betting, and odds that are closely in line with the trend-setting land-based sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
Major online sportsbooks like Bodog also provide players with a complete online casino experience, online poker rooms, and racebooks covering daily and major horse racing events at tracks across North America and around the world.