British Columbia is one of the most important provinces in Canada, home to more than five million residents. While this province is a hub for natural beauty with mountains and the ocean, it is also a hotspot for betting. BC gambling is hugely popular, and recent changes to the federal single-game betting laws have opened the door for sportsbooks in British Columbia, although, as of right now, residents must rely on offshore betting sites or the PlayNow provincial sportsbook. But change is on the horizon, and in this guide, we’re going to dive deep into everything you need to know about BC sports betting. From the laws to the sportsbooks, we’ll cover it all.
British Columbia Sports Betting
Top BC Sports Betting
What Makes a Great BC Betting Site
There are a lot of things to be aware of when it comes to sports betting websites. So when we are searching for great BC gambling sites, what do we look for?
Below are some of the most important things that we consider when picking betting sites:
- Security and Trust: We consider whether the sportsbook has good cybersecurity and a strong reputation.
- Sports Coverage: We check that they cover all the sports and markets BC bettors crave.
- Licensing: We verify that a sportsbook is licensed and legal and can serve BC residents.
- Customer Support: We ensure that a sportsbook has different support options if a customer hits a snag.
- Banking: We browse the different deposit/withdrawal options and make sure bettors have a smooth process.
- Bonuses and Promotions: We look at the different sports betting options to see that an operator provides users with exciting and valuable betting bonuses.
Betting in British Columbia
The world of British Columbia sports betting is one that looks set to take off dramatically in the future. Much like the rest of Canada, there have been some substantial changes to the legality of sports betting in the province, and it looks likely that BC sports betting will grow significantly over the next few years. That information may seem vague, but sports betting is a complicated legal issue with a lot of moving parts. In this section, we will hope to clear up some of the mysteries surrounding betting in British Columbia. We will look at whether it is legal, who can bet, and where you can legally bet. Let’s dive into the heart of the issue.
Single-Game vs. Parlay Betting
One of the key things to clear up surrounding legality in the sports betting world is the difference between single-game betting and parlay betting. For a while, the only type of sports betting that was overseen by the government and regulated was parlay betting through the provincially-ran PlayNow. PlayNow was launched in 2004 and was controlled by the BC government, which only allowed parlay bets. This has now changed. But what is the difference between single-game and parlay betting?
A single-game bet is a bet on a single game. This is the standard form of betting most bettors prefer. With a single-game bet, bettors can bet on a spread, the Moneyline, a total, or any other single outcome. A parlay bet is a riskier bet, and it was the only provincially ran option that was available for a while. Parlays are when bettors tie multiple bets into a single bet. So bettors would have to bet on at least two different outcomes from separate games, with both having to hit for the bet to cash. This isn’t the case anymore.
Is sports betting legal in British Columbia?
The answer to this is a yes. The situation has evolved dramatically across Canada. In August of 2021, Bill C-218 was passed, which amended the criminal code of Canada to take away the government restriction on single-sport betting. This immediately changed the industry.
This wasn’t a federal legalization of sports betting; it was a removal of a federal prohibition. What Bill C-218 did was put the power in the hands of provinces to embrace their citizen's love for online sports betting. The wheels immediately began turning in many different provinces, including British Columbia.
Most of the changes to the BC sports betting market have been moderate so far, at least in comparison to more mature markets. PlayNow, the provincially regulated sportsbook, now accepts single-game bets from British Columbia residents. They are the only British Columbia sportsbook that is overseen by the province, and their monopoly on the industry means they have less competitive odds and offers than other sportsbooks.
An example of what is likely to come in British Columbia is Ontario. Ontario is the first province to fully capitalize on the new changes to the law. In 2022, they launched iGaming Ontario. This is the province’s regulatory body that now oversees the gambling industry. They now regulate more than a dozen sportsbooks, and websites like FanDuel, BetMGM, and DraftKings have come flooding into the province from the US. Sportsbooks are now allowed to advertise on TV and billboards.
So, what’s in this for the province and the people in it? For the province, the answer is easy. If the BC government can regulate the market, it can tax it. BC residents spend millions of dollars every year on sports betting, with none of the revenue betting the government because they don’t control the industry. If they follow Ontario’s lead, they can tax the money and benefit from an industry that people are going to spend their money on regardless. The tax money from these websites can go to causes like infrastructure, the public school systems, or social causes like homelessness or mental healthcare.
For those who enjoy betting in British Columbia, the province regulating the industry will be beneficial. It will bring more BC sportsbooks, as it has in Ontario, and help ensure safety. If an operator is licensed within the province, you can be more confident it is safe and secure. Licensing websites that oversee sports betting operators have strict rules that sportsbooks must follow, so if the province is overseeing the industry, it will clean up cybersecurity and protect consumers from hackers and other issues.
When can bettors expect these kinds of sweeping changes in British Columbia? The answer to that is not clear. Ontario moved fast, much quicker than any other province, and as of right now, they stand alone in the Canadian betting industry. But it wouldn’t be a surprise if the BC government, seeing the impact this industry has had in generating hundreds of millions of legal dollars, makes the decision to fully lean into legal sports betting and opens up the market.
Who can bet on sports in British Columbia?
If single-game sports betting has arrived in British Columbia through the PlayNow operator, does that mean that anyone in the province can start laying down bets? Absolutely not. Just because British Columbia sports betting is opening up slightly doesn’t mean that anyone can enter BC and start making bets. It is a heavily regulated industry still, so not everyone in the province is going to be able to use PlayNow and make legal bets.
So who can partake in the BC betting industry? Let’s look at the restrictions that govern who can and can’t bet.
- Age: To bet in a casino or a sports betting website, you have to be 19 or older. This is the legal gambling age, and you have to be able to verify your age with a form of government identification like a passport or driver’s license.
- Location: Bettors must be located in British Columbia when they are making their bet and also have a permanent address in British Columbia. The sports betting online industry is not open to tourists and non-residents.
- Verification: To place a bet, you have to verify that you live in British Columbia by using a bank account or credit card that has the same BC address as the one you sign up with. You must also have a functioning email.
Offshore sportsbooks in British Columbia
If there is only one primary sportsbook that is legal for BC residents to use, is PlayNow the only website bettors frequent? The answer to this is no. Bettors use offshore websites or sportsbooks that are regulated within Canada on tribal lands, like operators powered by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission. This is known as the gambling gray market.
It is called the gray market because it is a legal gray area. It is not expressly legalized like PlayNow, but it is also not illegal. That means you can use offshore licensed sportsbooks or tribal sportsbooks without any fear of legal repercussions. This is what many BC gambling lovers choose to do because PlayNow is highly limited as an option.
How to Start Sports Betting in British Columbia
If you want to get started with British Columbia sports betting, there is a lot you are going to need to know. It is a process, particularly if you are an inexperienced bettor. The first step in the BC betting process is to register for an account. This is something that shouldn’t take bettors very long, but it is necessary to use a sportsbook.
The registration process will depend on the sportsbook you use, whether it is an offshore betting site or PlayNow. Either way, it will require personal information like your name, date of birth, address, and contact information. Some sportsbooks will require that you verify this information to ensure that you are who you say you are and that you are based in British Columbia.
Once this is done, you can get started on the rest of your BC gambling journey. Below, we will provide some of the other crucial information necessary to start betting successfully.
British Columbia Betting Banking Options
Before you start betting, you need to fill your account with money. This is part of getting the funds necessary to place bets. To do this, bettors must go through the banking process with the sportsbook of their choosing. The banking process should be seamless and efficient, as sportsbooks and users benefit from making it as easy as possible for users to put money in their accounts.
Before banking with an operator, you should always check their licensing, reputation, and security. Banking involves inputting sensitive payment information into a sportsbook, and if they can’t be trusted, then this can be a huge mistake for bettors. However, most BC sportsbooks that you’ll find in the province, whether they are provincially-ran like PlayNow or offshore sites like Bet365, can be relied upon to keep your money and information safe and honor payouts. It is just always important to double-check.
There are many different payment methods that the average bettor might consider using on BC betting sites. Let’s look at the popular payment options for British Columbia sports betting.
Credit/Debit: This is the most common deposit method. Bettors simply use their credit or debit cards to deposit online, inputting the number on the card into the website. Transaction speeds tend to be medium.
Interac: This is a transaction method many Canadians value for its ease and simplicity. Bettors can send e-transfers through Interac to a betting site and have the money very quickly show up on their account.
E-Wallets: E-Wallets are virtual devices designed to securely hold online payments. Many sportsbooks take a variety of e-wallets, including Skrill, Neteller, and ecoPayz. One downside to e-wallets is that some sportsbooks won’t pay out bonuses with e-wallet transactions.
Cryptocurrency: Cryptocurrency has recently become a popular sports betting payment option that websites across the country accept, although not every betting site does. The big benefit of crypto transactions is that they are very fast for both deposits and withdrawals.
Web Cash Deposits: Web Cash Deposits are a way of depositing with PlayNow. Bettors purchase Web Cash cards of varying amounts with cash. These cards come with a scratch-off code on the back. When bettors want to deposit with PlayNow, they scratch the code and input the details into the website.
Popular Sports to Bet on British Columbia
British Columbia is a province that is crazy for sports. BC sports betting fans lay down wagers on a hugely diverse array of different sports and leagues, so there is no question that any good BC gambling site should have a lot of different options available. Let’s look at some of the most popular sports in the province that bettors enjoy wagering on.
Hockey: In every province in Canada, everything starts and ends with hockey. Hockey is hugely popular in British Columbia due to the presence of the Vancouver Canucks, and naturally, many BC natives love to wager on the sport. Most sportsbooks will have NHL odds and cover other leagues around the world. Here you can find more information about NHL betting
Football: Many BC natives live not far from the US border, and Americans' passion for football has reached BC. Sundays in British Columbia are dominated by the NFL, and many of the top BC betting sites will provide markets on the NFL, CFL, and NCAA.
Baseball: British Columbia has never had a professional MLB team play in the province, but there are still many residents of BC that love the sport. Betting on baseball is highly common, particularly in the summer, when other leagues have wrapped up. Most sportsbooks cover the MLB and other leagues from Asia to Mexico.
Basketball: While the Vancouver Grizzlies no longer exist, BC residents’ passion for the great sport of basketball remains as strong as it ever has. BC bettors love wagering on NBA action, and there are few sportsbooks that won’t take NBA bets. Many operators also cover the NCAA and leagues spanning the globe.
Soccer: The Vancouver Whitecaps have helped stir up BC’s passion for soccer, and many BC residents enjoy wagering on this highly popular global sport. Every sportsbook will have soccer odds and most cover leagues on every inhabited continent.
Combat Sports: Combat sports are thrilling to bet on, and professional boxing and the UFC seemingly always have impactful upcoming bouts. BC residents can find odds on combat sports in most available sportsbooks.
Most Popular Markets
Bettors don’t just enjoy wagering on sports; there are also markets within the sports that draw major interest. If you are not familiar with betting markets, they are the outcomes that bettors are wagering on within a game or league. They are lines that bettors stake their money on to either happen or not happen.
There are many kinds of markets that are popular amongst bettors. Let’s look at some of the ones most common with British Columbia sports betting sites.
💰 Moneyline: A Moneyline bet is when bettors pick a team to win a match straight up. If you bet a team on the Moneyline, you’ve picked them to win their game.
💰 Point Spread: The point spread is a line that shows the projected score differential in favor of a team. Bettors can bet for the spread, meaning the favored team exceeds that differential, or against it, meaning they won’t.
💰 Total: The total is a line that represents the total combined points/goals/runs between two teams in a game. Bettors can pick the over, meaning the two teams score more than the line, or the under, meaning they score less.
💰 Futures: Futures are long-term bets within a league that is settled over the course of a season or playoffs. They are things like which player will win MVP or which team will win a championship.
💰 Game Props: Game props are the most expansive type of bet. They are outcomes within a game tied into a team or teams that can be entirely random. Game props can include things like which team will score more runs in the third inning, the combined amount of penalties between both teams, and so on.
💰 Player Props: Player props are like game props but for individuals rather than teams. They are bets on a single player’s performance within a game. It can be something like which player will score the first goal/touchdown or bets on an over/under assist total for a player in a game.
💰 Parlays: Parlays are when bettors tie multiple bets into one single bet. Each bet within the parlay needs to hit for the parlay to cash. Parlays have a higher risk but higher rewards. The odds within parlays multiply so they can have huge payouts.
💰 Live Betting: Live betting is when bettors place bets on games that have already started. The odds update throughout the game according to what is happening on the field/court/rink; if one team scores, their odds of winning will be immediately upgraded.
Most sports betting websites won’t just take bets on sporting events but will also cover other types of betting areas for bettors. While you won’t find coverage of everything, like sportsbooks don’t typically cover Canadian university sports, many BC betting sites have some very unique things bettors can wager on. Let’s look at some fun non-sport betting options.
- Cinema: Bettors can place bets on different cinema results. They can wager on different things like box office results or award show results, betting on who will win Academy Awards or Golden Globes.
- Esports: Esports has become increasingly popular due to the relevance of online streaming and the popularity of video games. Bettors can wager on different video game tournaments on an array of different sportsbooks.
- Politics: Betting on politics is a common option on betting sites. Bettors can wager who Canada’s next prime minister will be, which Republican will receive the party nomination in 2024, and so on.
Popular Teams for BC Betting
British Columbia is a big province, and every resident likely has their own teams that they pull for. But there are certain teams and franchises in the province that are more popular than others. Let’s look at some of the teams you’ll find many BC residents pulling for.
Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks are unquestionably the most popular franchise in the province, BC’s lone big-four league sports team. While the glory days of the Sedin twins feel long ago, the Canucks fan remain as rabid as ever.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seattle Seahawks play a short drive from many BC residents, and they are the default NFL team many cheer for. Coming off a playoff appearance and with two first-round picks, the future for this team is bright.
Toronto Raptors: The Raptors are the lone Canadian NBA team after the Vancouver Grizzlies were taken from BC, and many BC fans support the Raptors. There was a lot of excitement when the Raptors went on their shock 2019 championship run.
Toronto Blue Jays: Similar to the Raptors, many BC fans support the Blue Jays as they are the lone Canadian option. With a loaded roster, it is a fun time to be a Jays fan.
Vancouver Whitecaps: The Whitecaps are an MLS team that has a very passionate fanbase. They were launched in 2009 and have had renowned players like Alphonso Davies play for them.
Other Types of Gambling Options
If sports betting is not your speed, there are other ways to gamble on betting sites. Many bettors prefer to bet with different methods, and most BC sportsbooks will also offer options that support additional forms of online gambling. If you are interested in exploring other options, let’s look at some of the additional ways you can gamble online.
- Computer-Generated Casino Games: Many sportsbooks provide computer-generated casinos for bettors to enjoy. These are virtual casinos where bettors can place bets on computer casino games that include the likes of poker, blackjack, roulette, and baccarat, but the most popular option might be slots. These games come from verified software providers to ensure they are fair for gamblers and not overly slanted in favor of the casino.
- Live Casino Games: Live casino games are similar to computer-generated ones, with plenty of famous Vegas-style casino options online. But the difference is that they are live and include a live dealer and other bettors. So bettors aren’t competing against a computer; they are competing against a live dealer and other bettors. These tend to be live-streamed videos, so you can see the dealer and even other players as you play.
Responsible Sports Betting in British Columbia
Sports betting is a blast and can be a really fun hobby that even pays out healthy amounts of money to bettors. But this is only if bettors are smart and don’t slip into unhealthy, irresponsible habits.
There are several important rules of thumb that bettors should remember with gambling. The first is to be aware of and follow the law. Don’t use operators that are unlicensed, don’t use VPNs to try to use illegal sportsbooks, and be aware of the British Columbia gambling laws. We’ve covered many of the important ones above.
The other thing to remember is not to slip into unhealthy gambling habits. Sports betting can be an addiction, and bettors need to be careful they remain safe. Don’t chase your losses, don’t bet above your means, bet only on games you have knowledge of, and practice payroll management.
If you find yourself slipping into problematic behaviors, there are resources like the BC Responsible and Problem Gambling’s 24/7 toll-free support line.
Types of sportsbooks to avoid
There are several sportsbooks that might not provide bettors with the experience that they are hoping for. Let’s look at some of the uniting traits of a sportsbook that bettors are better off avoiding.
- No License is Shown on the Website
- Bad User Reviews Online
- Hidden Terms and Conditions in Offer
- Seem Too Good to be Tru
Licensed vs. Unlicensed Betting Sites
When sports bettors pick their betting options, they have the ability to choose between a licensed or an unlicensed betting site. Licensed betting sites are sportsbooks that have had a regulatory body, whether it is in Canada like the Kahnawake Gaming Commission or abroad like the Malta Gambling Authority, look over their sportsbook and verify it.
Every sportsbook that bettors should consider should be licensed. A license is something that is absolutely crucial for a betting site to have because it is a mark of legality and safety. Let’s look below at some of the key reasons that you need to ensure you bet with licensed betting sites.
Why should I use a licensed site?
- Cybersecurity: Cybersecurity is crucial on betting sites. It ensures users’ data and payment information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Sportsbooks that are licensed have their cybersecurity systems verified by regulators.
- Game Fairness: One of the things a regulator does is check the fairness of games. Unlicensed sportsbooks can theoretically have casino games that are rigged even more in sports betting sites' favor, making it very important bettors avoid this problem.
- Legality: If you want to ensure legality, you should use licensed sportsbooks. These are operators that have been approved by governments and regulatory bodies, while unlicensed sportsbooks haven’t.
- Payouts: The biggest issue with unlicensed sportsbooks is that there’s a chance they’ll scam you. Some unlicensed operators will not payout money to bettors.
PlayNow is the provincially licensed sportsbook that serves BC. They are owned and operated by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation and were launched in 2004. Originally, they only allowed parlay bets and casino games on their website, but after the passage of Bill C-218, they now allow single-game sports betting.
Frequently Asked Questions About BC Sports Betting
Is Sports Betting Legal in BC?
To put a long story short, the answer to this is a yes. Bill C-218 made single-game betting legal across Canada and put the ball in the province’s court. Now, you can single-game bet through a government-regulated option like PlayNow or bet on an offshore betting site, which is known as the gray market.
Should I Only Bet on PlayNow?
If you want to use a BC-government-regulated operator, this is your only option. But you can find better odds and markets and a more improved betting experience using some of the offshore sites. PlayNow has a monopoly, so they aren’t as competitive as they could be.
What Are the First Steps if I Want to Start BC Sports Betting?
The first step you need to take before BC betting is to research an operator to find a sportsbook that suits your needs. Then, you’ll have to register to create an account and deposit in your newly-registered account. Both processes will require your personal information.
What is a Combo Bet?
A combo bet is also known as a parlay or accumulator bet. How these bets work is that bettors will combine multiple different bets into a single bet. The odds combine to be boosted, but each bet within the combo bet needs to hit for it to cash.
What Are the Main Differences Between Sportsbooks?
Every sportsbook is different, and there are a lot of reasons why. Some of the crucial differences you’ll see going from sportsbook to sportsbook is different features, odds, website designs, and promotional offerings.
Should I Set Self-Exclusion Limits?
Self-Exclusion limits are a good idea for bettors that are worried about problematic behavior. These are limits bettors can set to ensure they don’t overspend, and they limit the amount users can deposit into their accounts.
What Are the Standard Customer Support Options?
Typically, a sportsbook will have several customer support options for its users. The standard ones are an FAQ page, a Live Chat feature, a phone line, and an email line.
When Will Sports Betting in British Columbia be Fully Implemented?
It is impossible to predict what the British Columbia government will do with the gambling industry. However, if they decide to go the route that Ontario went and fully open up the industry, it will take months and months, and bettors will know well in advance.
Do Sportsbooks Honor Their Payouts?Do Sportsbooks Honor Their Payouts?
As long as you are betting on a licensed sportsbook and have followed their betting terms and conditions, you can expect that they will honor their payouts. If they don’t, you can contact their customer support features to try and get help from workers there.
- Betting Sites
- British Columbia Sports Betting