Updated: 2021 Dec 6

Legal British Columbia Sports Betting

Situated along the west coast of Canada is British Columbia, the second most populated province with 4.9 million. With a booming and diverse economy including tourism, mining, and telecommunications to name a few.

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Gambling in British Columbia

Sports betting in British Columbia and the rest of Canada was prohibited until 1985, when an amendment was made to the Canadian Criminal Code that allowed provincial lotteries to offer multi-leg bets, commonly known as parlay bets. That same year, BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corporation was formed to regulate and manage the sports betting offering, as well as casino betting and lottery.

The first casino popped up finally in British Columbia in 1987, owned by Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. The Nanaimo Casino opened first, followed by the Red Lion Casino, Richmond Casino and Langley casino – all in the same year.

If you’re betting on sports in British Columbia, your only current legal option is through BCLC. You have two options when betting on sports: PlayNow or Sports Action. Sports Action is run through the BCLC lottery website, and PlayNow was launched in 2004 as an alternative online sports betting site from BCLC powered by GameSense.

GameSense was introduced in 2009 and the goal of the program was to help players make informed betting decisions. PlayNow offers sports betting, casino games, pools, poker, Bingo, live casino, instant wins, and even Keno.

In 2019-2020, over $1.3 billion dollars was generated by BCLC through gambling. This money was distributed into responsible gaming strategy, the local economic development, horse racing, gaming policy, host local government programs, First Nations revenue sharing, community gaming grants, provincial health, and more.

Sports Franchises Based in Alberta

Legal Sports Betting in British Columbia

Since the passing of Bill C-218 in June 2021, single-game sports betting is legal in all Canadian provinces, but the provincial governments will be left to decide how the new sports betting legislation will be regulated and who will be allowed to obtain a license to operate in the province.

BCLC (British Columbia Lottery Corporation) have been in charge of all lottery, sports betting and casino activity since its inception in 1986 and will continue to do so with the new legislation.

Provinces like Ontario have created government entities like the AGCO that would be impartial and would be open to bringing in more operators without fears of jeopardizing their own revenue streams. British Columbia will not be doing this, though it makes the most sense from a competitive standpoint.

What will British Columbia Sports Betting Look Like?

Even with Bill C-218 legalizing single-game sports betting in Canada, the landscape for sports betting in British Columbia won’t change much, as there are no concrete plans thus far to bring in any outside operators. BCLC intends to be the sole sports betting source in the province and will offer single-game wagering on their PlayNow site.

They wouldn’t have had to make many adjustments to accommodate single game wagering as they’ve been offering odds on games for years, just in a parlay format.

There is potential that operators will come to British Columbia in the future – many provinces are keeping a close eye on the Ontario sports betting model being implemented with unlimited opportunities for operators buying licenses and existing operators able to legitimize themselves in Ontario.

When Ontario’s revenue numbers are released for the first quarter, we expect other provinces to follow suit – the revenue potential with operators like DraftKings, FanDuel and Bet365 would be a huge boost to the British Columbia economy.

It is speculated that BCLC is trying to maintain the monopoly on the market as long as they can – if they don’t see a large increase in sign-ups on PlayNow in the coming months, maybe even the first quarter of 2022, they will likely begin planning to sell operator licenses to top online sportsbooks.

British Columbia borders three US states: Washington, Idaho and Montana. Washington has had sports betting legalized for the past few years, and recently signed off on sports betting within tribal casinos – which would be enticing for many BC residents – Vancouver and Victoria houses over 60% of the province’s population and is situated close to the U.S. border.

Idaho doesn’t have legal sports betting as of yet, and Montana has had legal sports betting in the state since 2019.

Is Online Sports Betting Legal in British Columbia?

Yes, online sports betting is legal in British Columbia. Parlay betting has always been an option for the province through BCLC, and offshore sportsbooks have also been an option for those who wanted to bet singles.

Now that single-game sports betting has been legalized in Canada and that aspect has been added to the PlayNow product, so BC residents can finally bet on their favourite events like the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup Final.


Betting on BC Sports Teams

Vancouver is home to the professional sports teams in British Columbia, there isn’t a huge market for professional sports in any other city, and Vancouver has the capacity – especially since hosting the Olympics in 2010.

NHL

Vancouver Canucks

Since 1970, the Vancouver Canucks have been in the National Hockey League, and have managed to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals three times – 1982, 1994 and 2011. Their Stanley Cup runs have been heavily overshadowed by rioting after their losses, causing millions in damages to the city of Vancouver on the last two occasions.

The Canucks are the only NHL team in British Columbia, so the whole province tends to get behind them, unlike other provinces with two teams like Ontario or Alberta, that tend to be split.

CFL

BC Lions

The BC Lions have been a part of the Canadian Football League since 1954 and have six Grey Cup titles under their belts. The Lions have won in 1964, 1985, 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2011. The Lions are another team that play in Vancouver, conveniently located downtown.

MLS

The Vancouver Whitecaps FC

In 2011, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined the MLS as the 17th team in the league and garnered a huge fan base right away. The Whitecaps became the first Canadian MLS team to qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, which they accomplished the following year in 2012. The team plays out of BC Place in Vancouver, in the same stadium as the BC Lions.


Horse Racing in British Columbia

Horse racing and gambling on horses has generated over $200 million each year in British Columbia. The racetracks and tele-theatres that broadcast international horse races via simulcast from around the world allow wagers to be placed on races like the Kentucky Derby and more. Over 75 per cent of the revenue generated by horse betting occurs on simulcast races.

The biggest horse racing event in British Columbia is the British Columbia Derby, a Canadian thoroughbred horse race held annually during the third week in September. The event takes place at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver and is a 9-furlong race for three-year-old colts and fillies. The race has been run annually since 1946, with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Racetracks in British Columbia

Name City On-site Horse Betting?
Desert Park RacetrackOsoyoos No
Sunflower DownsPrinceton No
Fraser Downs RacetrackSurrey, BC Yes
Hastings RacecourseVancouverYes
Kin ParkVernon No

Casino Betting in British Columbia

British Columbia is home to 34 casinos throughout the province that offer slots, table games and more. 30 of the casinos are commercially owned:

Casino City
Grand Villa Casino Burnaby, BC
Elements CasinoChilliwack, BC
Hard Rock Casino VancouverCoquitlam, BC
Cascades CasinoKamloops, BC
Playtime CasinoKelowna, BC
Cascades CasinoLangley, BC
Great Canadian CasinoNanaimo, BC
Starlight CasinoNew Westminster, BC
Cascades CasinoPenticton, BC
Billy Barker Casino HotelQuesnel, BC
Treasure Cove Casino HotelPrince George, BC
Billy Barker Casino Hotel Quesnel, BC
River Rock Casino ResortRichmond, BC
Elements CasinoSurrey, BC
Parq VancouverVancouver, BC
Hastings RacecourseVancouver, BC
Lake City CasinoVernon, BC
Elements Casino VictoriaView Royal, BC

There are four First Nations casinos located in British Columbia, owned by several different Indigenous tribes in the province.

Casino City
Casino of the Rockies is owned by the Ktunaxa Nation, Chippewas of Rama First Nation and the Samson Cree NationCranbrook, BC
Chances Cowichan is owned by the Cowichan TribesDuncan, BC
Chances Salmon Arm located on land owned by the Adams Lake Indian BandSalmon Arm, BC
Chances Squamish is owned by the Squamish NationSquamish, BC

Strategy and Tips


FAQ


Yes, sports betting has been legal in British Columbia since 1985, but has been limited to parlay betting until August 27, 2021. Single-event sports betting launched and we can now bet on single games in B.C.

The age of majority in British Columbia is 19 years old..You can bet on sports, casino, horses, and slots once you turn 19 years of age. This is higher than other provinces – especially where next door in Alberta the age of majority is 18 years old.

There are 34 casinos in British Columbia, 30 commercial casinos, and four First Nations casinos. The province also only has two racetrack locations that offer horse racing betting and simulcast betting.

Yes, single-game sports betting was legalized in June 2021, and launched in August 2021 in British Columbia. We can now bet on single events like the Super Bowl or Stanley Cup Finals in B.C. through BCLC's PlayNow.

You can bet on sports at any BCLC kiosk or online through their PlayNow product. There are also online sportsbooks you can sign up for that can offer you hefty bonuses and more selection if you choose to bet online.

Contributors

Contributors

Hi, I'm Michelle Gray

"I'm an avid sports fan and content creator from Nova Scotia, Canada. I have over 14 years of experience in the gambling space, specifically in the sports betting industry specializing in sportsbook reviews and sports betting educational content."

Interests
  • NHL
  • NBA
  • Sports Betting
  • Gambling Legislation

Reviewer since May 2021

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