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How to know if an online sportsbook is legal this winter

The Canadian government recently made the decision to allow individual provinces to set their own laws regulating online gambling – for both online casinos and online sports betting sites. This has made it possible for a province to listen to its residents and move ahead with expanding the available gambling options without having to wait for their more conservative neighbours.

Ontario was the first province to take advantage of this new freedom and establish its own online gambling laws. Under the authority of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), Ontario began to issue licenses to casino and betting brands that applied and proved that they would be a safe choice for Ontario residents.

Although Canada does not prosecute players or bettors for gambling on illegal sites, there are still serious reasons not to do so. The biggest is that unlicensed, offshore betting sites do not have the same protections as licensed ones. If something goes wrong, the bettor is not protected. It is always a smarter and safer decision to place your bets with a fully licensed sportsbook.

There are also many completely legitimate sports betting brands that simply have not yet been licensed in Ontario. Getting a license can take time, and some brands are very cautious about moving into a new territory since they don’t know how much interest there may be in sports betting. This can make the process of choosing an online sportsbook a little confusing.

Finding the best legal sports betting sites in Ontario shouldn’t be a gamble. With our handy guide, it won’t be! In this article, we’ll give you the tips you need so you can know if an online sportsbook is legal this winter.

Ask the AGCO

As we mentioned above, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is responsible for licensing gambling sites in the province. The iGaming side of the AGCO isn’t just responsible for handing out licenses, they also need to keep bettors informed about where they can legally and safely place their bets.

So, if you’re curious about which online sportsbooks are legal to bet at, the best thing to do is to check the AGCO’s iGaming website. There, you will find a complete and up-to-date list of all of the licensed online sportsbooks in the province. They have also helpfully provided links to each sportsbook’s website.

If you like to mix online casino games or bingo with your sports betting, the AGCO also makes it possible to search for sportsbooks that offer these options.

Logos and licenses

At this point in time, we all know that photos can be edited and that not everything you read on the internet is true. However, a quick check for the AGCO’s Ontario iGaming logo is a good first step in checking if an online sportsbook is legal. For those who haven’t seen it, the logo is series of stylised overlapping dice in green, yellow and dark blue.

You can also find all of an online sportsbook’s licensing information on the information page for the site. Sports betting guides are also a good place to double check whether the betting site you’re considering holds the proper licenses.

Read the reviews

Sports betting guides and sportsbook review sites are a great source of information for new bettors who are just getting started and don’t know where to begin, or for experienced bettors who are looking for a new sportsbook to create an account with.

Review sites rely on providing their readers with the latest and most accurate information, otherwise they rapidly lose their readers’ trust. Comparing the reviews across a couple of sites can also give you a more complete picture of the sportsbooks that you’re considering. Information about the legal status of a sportsbook should always be front and centre on these sites.

It’s also a smart idea to read the comments on these sites. Of course, there will always be complaints from bettors who simply haven’t followed the rules or who have misused the site and been caught, but it’s also a great way to discover if there are any hidden issues. The most common of these is a customer support team that is unresponsive or difficult to contact. These aren’t necessarily issues that impact the legality of a sport betting site, simply things that are helpful to know.

Check your bets too

Just because you’ve found a legal online sportsbook doesn’t mean you can just bet on anything you can find there. Certain betting markets are restricted in different countries or provinces, and this isn’t always clearly labelled.

It’s perfectly legal to bet on politics and elections in Canada but it’s illegal across most of the United States, so that can create problems for bettors who live nearby and cross the border frequently. Other markets where there are some grey areas are amateur and collegiate sports, and esports. For example, while it is possible to bet on esports in Ontario, it is only legal to bet on esports events that meet the AGCO’s standards.

If a betting market you’re interested in seems like it might be questionable, it’s easy to check the AGCO’s website for clarification.