Canadian law prevented single-event sports betting by local operators until 2021. This is why local provincial lottery corporations could only offer sports betting games that required parlays (combination wagers). Thus, for over two decades, interested Canadian sports bettors have had to look abroad, to operators based in "offshore" jurisdictions in order to place online wagers in the way in which people in the the UK and Europe have become accustomed.
Below, we show you our top offshore online sportsbooks for bettors based in Canada, but outside Ontario. Know that each listed brand is licensed within the legal Ontario market, so you know they are highly reputable, though from outside Ontario, you will play on their "offshore" platforms. We also explain much more about the various offshore online gambling jurisdictions, and issues you may find to be helpful in your decision-making process as you choose your preferred betting brand.
Canadian offshore betting FAQ
As regulators of online gambling in their given jurisdiction, their duties include the licensing of operators, protection of player deposits, overseeing game integrity and fairness, protection of minors and vulnerable individuals, safeguarding of player rights including investigation of customer complaints, the monitoring of license-holders to ensure compliance, as well as efforts to keep gaming free from criminal activity, including Anti-money laundering protocols and anti-match-fixing efforts.
When it comes to the international online gaming jurisdictions that serve the markets around the world which have yet to locally regulate their markets, the reality is that the world's top-tier betting and gaming brands almost exclusively operate within just three: those in Malta, Gibraltar and Kahnawake. Although some excellent, reputable online gambling operators have chosen to operate in some of the other jurisdictions that we will outline below, the reality is that those other jurisdictions are home to a vast number of less-than-reputable brands.
Malta is an EU-member island nation of about half a million people, located in the Mediterranean, between Italy and North Africa. In 2001, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) became one of the first jurisdictions established to oversee regulation of online gambling. With this, the MGA has become the pre-eminent online gaming jurisdiction for the largest group of the most-respected international brands that serve markets which have yet to create their own local legal frameworks for online gambling.
While Malta-based brands often serve Canada and other markets around the globe, their focus has been on serving the markets of Europe that have yet to create and regulate their own local markets. Only recently have Nordic markets Norway and Finland taken action to restrict MGA operators from serving their citizens in various ways: Nearly all MGA operators have stopped offering play in Norwegian Kroner and many MGA sites are no longer advertised in the Finnish language, out of respect for new local laws.
However, many top MGA betting and gaming brands continue to serve Germans, Norwegians, Finns, Croats, Serbs and those from even smaller nations. Since the MGA has set the bar high for regulation and oversight relative to other offshore jurisdictions, Canadians should feel a heightened sense of trust at sportsbooks operated out of Malta. Underscoring this, Malta as a jurisdiction has ensured that its operators respect the now fully legal and locally regulated Ontario market. Malta-based sportsbooks no longer serve Ontario.
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and city, located on Spain's southern coast. It was ceded to Britain in perpetuity in 1713. With an area of just 6.7 square kilometers, it is home to a population of just 32,000 people. It's economy is underpinned by three main industries, tourism, financial services and online gaming. When the UK looked to increase taxes on its online gambling operators, en masse, these operators looked for a lower-tax alternative that would allow them to continue serving the UK market, and potentially, the international "grey market" jurisdictions that have not yet created local legal markets.
Gibraltar thus became the main destination for these originally UK-based operators from 2005 onward. In looking at the full list of Gibraltar Remote Gambling licensees, you should notice what is essentially a "who's who" of UK online sports betting and casino brands. Some of these brands have been serving the so-called Canadian "grey market" for over a decade from Gibraltar, and many of these brands have moved to become licensed within the legal Ontario market. This is important, as Gibraltar as a jurisdiction fully respects the newly legal Ontario sports betting and igaming market. None of their operators serve Ontario without a local license.
In 1996, Canada itself became home to an "offshore" iGaming jurisdiction, that within the sovereign Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake, located in Quebec, southwest of Montreal. While technically within the confines of Canada's borders, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission has become one of the world's leading international iGaming jurisdictions in order to regulate online gambling brands that wish to serve markets around the world, which have yet to create their own local legal iGaming frameworks.
Kahnawake, though not technically "offshore" from the Canadian perspective, has been home to several of the most popular so-called "grey market" online sports betting and casino brands that serve the provinces of Canada that have yet to create their own legal frameworks for online gambling (all but Ontario). The most well-known sportsbook brand for the "rest of Canada" market based in the Kahnawake jurisdiction is Sports Interaction. The most well-known Kahnawake online casino brand for the "rest of Canada" market is JackpotCity Casino. With their purchase of Sports Interaction, online gambling giant, Entain, moved to bring many of their "international" sites within the Kahnawake jurisdiction. SIA is the only one of these Entain brands that we at SNBET recommend to our readers.
The terms "grey market" and "black market" get used a lot with regard to sportsbooks that operate offshore. What do these terms really mean? Know that if you are in any of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Quebec, the Atlantic Provinces or the Territories, there is no such thing as a "black market" offshore betting site. The term "black market" or "grey market" is relative to where you are, and the laws & regulations that are locally applicable.
Since none of these provinces have created local legal market frameworks for regulation of online gaming, and the federal government has not prevented their use, the websites in question remain "grey market" options that are open to you. They operate in another jurisdiction, and there are no laws preventing you from using their service, hence the "grey area" - neither "legal" nor "illegal". If the same betting sites however, look to serve a market like Ontario without a license, they are deemed to be "black market" sites from the Ontario perspective.
This is the distinction. Ontario has the rules and regulations that operators should follow in order to serve its market. Prior to Ontario's market open, all operators had the opportunity to gain a license and migrate any of their existing players that were served during "grey market" operations, to the newly regulated system. However, some brands based in Curaçao, Panama and Antigua & Barbuda chose not comply with the rules and continue to serve Ontario without a license as "black market" operators. Some of these brands are out-and-out scammers, while others just simply are not held to any proper standard for responsible gaming, fairness on the games that you play, or oversight if something goes wrong or if there is a dispute.
Unfortunately, the online gaming jurisdictions of Curaçao, Panama and Antigua & Barbuda serve Canada's so called "grey market" with very little regulatory oversight, when compared to that found in the jurisdictions of Malta, Gibraltar and Kahnawake. Many of the operators in these lax jurisdictions have also taken the decision to serve the Ontario market without the required license as "black market" operators.
There are too many brands to mention, but we list many on our scam avoidance page, where a scam brand like 1XBET gets a lot of attention, given their visibility through high-profile sporting property sponsorship deals.
Brands in Panama will serve anyone, anywhere, even US states where it is fully illegal to operate. Bad news. Avoid brands like BetOnline.ag or SportsBetting.ag among others. They do not offer Canadian Dollar accounts and the odds you get there are no better than the regulated market, despite their reputation to the contrary.
From Canada, there is only one name here that matters from Antigua & Barbuda: it's Bodog. They've served Canada for so long, but they have not improved their platform in years, their odds are average at best, and they chose not to enter the legal Ontario market with a license, meaning they do not pay their fair share back to the province, nor do they submit to all the requirements of the licensed operators.
Given all of this, from the "rest of Canada" market, there are so many superior offshore sportsbook options for you. Stick with the top operators that are based in more reputable offshore gaming jurisdictions.