After the Canadian government made single-event betting legal in 2021, Ontario created a new, legal and fully regulated market. When Ontario's market opened in spring of 2022, the rest of Canada, including BC, witnessed an onslaught of sportsbook ads on all major sports broadcasts produced in the country. This is the unfortunate thing about Canadian gambling regulation being handled at the provincial level. When the most populous province goes one way, but the rest don't follow, consumers in places like British Columbia can be left with a lot of questions.
Our aim here is to give you the best information possible in moving forward, but know that very little has actually changed for people interested in online sports betting in BC. Unlike Ontario, BC still only has one official, or "legal" betting brand, while a huge "grey market" of sportsbook providers remains open for registration. Many brands in this "grey market" are scammers which need to be avoided, but numerous "grey" brands have also entered the legal Ontario market. Another set of legal Ontario brands however, do not have "grey market" sites. We know, it's confusing, but, we're going to decode this situation for you in a brief manner, so you can get started with the operator that suits you best.
If you are located within the province of BC, you actually have only one completely legal online sports betting option: PlayNow-dot-com, which is owned and run by the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC). Thankfully, once the federal prohibition on single-event betting was struck down in 2021, BCLC could move forward to add single-event wagering options to their sportsbook platform, which is provided by leading B2B technology company "OpenBet".
Yes, PlayNow provides a solid sports betting experience. On the OpenBet platform, which is used by several "private" operators around the world, you get essentially all the benefits, features & tools you would hope to have at any leading betting brand. This includes an intuitive interface, early cashout feature, reasonably competitive odds and live, in-play betting. More crucially, you also get 24/7 access to their award-winning GameSense program resources and real-life advisors for those that might need help in a moment of crisis. Near the top of the PlayNow site, they also provide GameSense links so you can easily learn to manage your play and your spend in a responsible way.
Furthermore, know that with PlayNow, all proceeds stay in the province for reinvestment in British Columbia. So if you don't have an online betting account, or you are truly a recreational sports bettor and just want to know the best option in BC, PlayNow-dot-com should be your first choice. PlayNow payment methods include Interac, PayPal, online banking or WEBCASH, so you can avoid the cash advance interest and charges associated with credit card payments to gaming sites.
From our review of PlayNow, they do not have traditional new player bonuses that consist of a "deposit bonus" or "bet credits". So if you are looking for an incentive as you begin, they do not have an offer in this respect. They do however offer weekly "bet-back-bonus" offers. In a general sense, these offers tend to be structured for people that make four or five-leg parlay bets, and if you miss on a single leg of your parlay, you can get your stake back as a "free bet" up to a value of $100. Terms and conditions apply to all such PlayNow offers and there may be slight differences, but this is the general PlayNow promotion concept. If you are interested in Canadian sports betting bonuses, we've got serveral from our top "grey market" brands.
BC Sports Betting Topics & FAQs
While PlayNow is your one fully legal sportsbook option in BC, we know the realities of the sports betting landscape. There are many people that want more choice in life than a single option. Perhaps you want to be able to have access to a betting platform that is perceived as being better. Or perhaps you are more serious about getting better odds prices for your own unique betting ideas. Or perhaps you want access to a wider array of betting markets, or ways that you may bet on your preferred sports. This yearning for options is what often leads people to explore the so-called "grey market" of offshore operators.
Since neither Canada nor BC have created a regulatory or legal framework with regard to online gambling, brands that legally operate from international igaming jurisdictions in places like Malta, Gibraltar and Kahnawake (Mohawk Territory in Quebec), among others, still look to serve residents in BC and other Canadian provinces (outside Ontario). Since there is no legal recourse in stopping or pursuing these "offshore" operators, there is also no way to prevent BC residents from playing at such betting or casino sites. In other words, the "grey market" betting sites are operating legally where they are allowed to do so, with servers, payment processors and staff located accordingly. Thus, since there is nothing in Canadian or BC law preventing their use, neither "legal" nor "illegal", they fall into this so-called "grey area".
Absolutely not. We have a page that is dedicated to avoiding sports betting scams in Canada. The reality is there are around 2,000 gambling sites that operate in the "grey market" that will serve players in BC and the rest of Canada. Many of these brands are based in the igaming jurisdiction of Curacao, but are actually run by companies based in, or connected to Russia. With the vast majority of these brands, players in BC are at risk in two key ways.
First, if you actually win something, you may never actually receive what you are owed, be it from sports betting, or from casino play. These brands have no interest in paying winners. They want to pocket the cash from the "losing" players, and fail to pay winners. In the case of the latter, they usually look to cite terms and conditions that suggest the winning player has somehow cheated, affirming their action to keep all funds, or they may just "ghost" you. That's their main scam. Even when it comes to reasonably "reputable" offshore sites, the testing and regulatory oversight is often so lax that you cannot be sure or confident of the integrity of the games that you play, or if there is any real recourse if there is a problem. After all, your money has gone offshore.
Unfortunately, many online sportsbook review resources have recently been purchased by the actual owners of these shady sportsbook and casino brands. Unsuspecting players in BC look online for help to find a reputable operator that offers Canadian Dollar accounts and payment methods, but they may end up reading any number recommendations toward of these Russian-owned brands. If you think we're joking, try visiting "bookmakers-dot-bet" - you can't find a single reputable brand on that site, and most brands there track back to Russia. Beyond this particular issue, you may find brands on other "review" sites that actually promote USD-only brands, which would require constant, costly exchange fees. There is no need for this when there are several trusted CAD sportsbooks.
The second main risk to BC players at "grey" or offshore betting sites is whether or not they integrate responsible gambling tools. If you are with one of the shady brands described above, or even some of the few legit ones based in Central America or the Caribbean, the vast majority will not offer tools like deposit limits, loss limits, playing time limits, timeouts, or even proper self-exclusion options. No one gets started at a betting site thinking they are going to develop a problem. If a person is just getting started in betting online, it's certainly better to have these tools available to help prevent people from playing beyond their means. The brands that we recommend have their own variations of these tools.
When it comes to "grey market" online sportsbooks for players in BC, we only recommend brands that offer these important responsible gambling tools described above, in addition to all the things that make them leading sports betting platforms. Furthermore, each and every one of the brands that we recommend for BC, are licensed to serve the legal Ontario market. While from BC, you would not play on their Ontario versions, it should provide some comfort in knowing that a Canadian provincial gaming regulator has given their stamp of approval the operators in question.
Perhaps interestingly, all the brands that we recommend served Ontario from the "grey market" before they migrated players to their legal iGaming Ontario operations. These brands are Betsafe, BetVictor, bet365, Betway and Sports Interaction. Who knows. Perhaps, if BCLC and the BC Government ever opt to adopt an approach similar to Ontario, your account with these operators from BC could one day be migrated to a legal and regulated BC sports betting market.
Several US sportsbook brands decided to enter the legal Ontario market. Online betting became allowed on a state-by-state basis when the federal ban was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2018. From that point forward, various US betting brands knew that their marketing efforts on US sporting broadcasts have been leaking into Canada. This gives each of these sportsbooks a sort of brand recognition in a market that is not their target one - but it also thus creates confusion for people in provinces like BC that are used to grey market sites being available to them.
Most of these US sportsbook brands however, have only ever operated within completely legal, local regulated markets, or they come from brands that started in the US as Daily Fantasy Sports operators, which is defined separately from sports betting. This means that they have not and do not have international, "grey market" betting sites based in offshore jurisdictions. The US and Ontario brands that do not serve BC include FanDuel Sportsbook, DraftKings Sportsbook, BetMGM, theScore Bet, PointsBet, BetRivers and Caesars Sportsbook.
No. FanDuel Sportsbook is not available in BC. (Their DFS product is available.)
Again, no. DraftKings Sportsbook isn't available in BC. (but again, their DFS product is available.)
Nope. BetMGM is only available in legal US state markets, plus Ontario.
Sorry. The ads you see with former TSN anchor Dan O'Toole are for the BetRivers Ontario offering. They do not serve BC.
No. The official sportsbook brand of Curling Canada and Alpine Canada, with Trailer Park Boys featured in their TV ads, is only available in Ontario.
No. Again, one of the most prolific legal US sportsbook brands is only available in Canada within the legal Ontario market.
Unfortunately, again, the answer is "no." In Canada, theScore Bet only currently operates within the legal Ontario market with its sports betting and casino products. Now owned by US gambling company, Penn Entertainment, theScore Bet does not operate within the so-called "grey market".
The Western Hockey League is home to five clubs in British Columbia: Kamloops, Kelowna, Prince George, Vancouver and Victoria. If you support one of these clubs, or you just love Canadian Major Junior Hockey, and you want to know a trustworthy "grey market" sportsbook brand that offers WHL betting, there are very few. Given the age of many WHL players many of the top betting brands avoid offering betting on WHL, or the other CHL leagues, the OHL and QMJHL. There are a lot of shady brands that do cover these games, but you should be wary of them. At last review, one of our recommended brands for BC did provide solid coverage of the WHL & CHL through their site based in Malta - Betway.
Yes. In 2022, BCLC came to an agreement with the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority (SIGA) and SaskGaming to provided its regulated online sports betting, poker and casino platform to the people of that Prairie Province. As of June 2023, it was reported that $8 million in revenue was gained from its 17,000 account-holders on this fully legal iGaming option within Saskatchewan, since its launch in November 2022.
Yes, they actually have a huge array of games in both respects. Give the reponsible gaming tools, the help that they offer to players and the fact that all proceeds stay in BC, PlayNow should really be your first and only option to check out. If for some reason you want options beyond this fully legal BC online & live casino option, and you want to explore the so-called "grey market", you want to be sure you choose a reputable operator. If you intend to explore your options, read about our Interac online casinos for Canada so you may find trusted brands, that all now have their license to serve Ontario.