CFL Pass

Basics of CFL betting: How to bet, bets available, gambling law in Canada

Increasingly popular among the Canadian betting public as well as with football fans from south of the border are betting on CFL football and CFL fantasy football. Since DFS is really among the lowest forms of football betting, on this page we’ll be concentrating on the good old-fashioned straight up betting on CFL football.

Naturally, the CFL doesn’t quite draw the gambling public’s attention – or provide all the options in odds, player props and betting – that the gargantuan NFL does, but the same sorts of wagers and betting options certainly exist at sportsbooks both online and “in real life.” During the preseason, any decent sportsbook anywhere in North America, the UK or Australia should offer Grey Cup futures, “To Win Division” futures, and quite possibly Most Outstanding Player props. The bigger bookmakers will offer win totals for the upcoming season, but, whoa, would this be difficult to win for most bettors in most situations.

CFL bets -- sports betting action

You’d figure that with just nine (or sometimes eight and, perhaps before too long, 10!) teams, the CFL would be easy to predict, but somehow those preseason predictions just never seem to fall into place just right. With the exception of the Calgary Stampeders, no team has enjoyed consistency SU and ATS. And, just like their counterpart in the NFL, Bill Belichick’s New England Bradies, the Stamps have a maddeningly tendency to lose the Grey Cup in wacky fashion.

In short, the over/under has been easier to win in the Grey Cup than the point spread. From 2010-2018, the favourite went just 3-6 ATS – and all teams not named the Stampeders were a combined 1-3 ATS (2-2 SU) in the ’10s!

During the regular season, most good online sportsbooks offer the same lines as in NFL football or college football betting: you’ll get money lines, point spreads and over/unders. Player props on individual regular-season games are pretty damn rare, but once the playoffs start, each CFL game has dozens of these bets – more time for everyone to research, we suppose.

Canadian sports betting law in a grey area

As for the legality of CFL betting for Canadian citizens, extant gambling law remains in a grey area. Recently, casino-style gambling has been opened up for legalization province to province, while Indian reservation-based operators (such as those in Quebec’s Kahnawake Mohawk Territory) are allowed to do business within Canada. Indeed, a citizen of the UK or even the US (!) could, by the letter of law, have access to Canada-based online sportsbooks that Canadian residents do not legally.

But that’s just technicalities. No advance has been made in Canadian law regarding sports betting online since the 1960s and the last codification of anti-games of chance legality – which is to say that technically sports betting on the internet is illegal for Canadian citizens, unless provincial law states otherwise.

Except … for individuals, this law is literally never enforced. Canadian law enforcement and prosecutors are for the time being perfectly happy allowing this little stretching of legality, which is fantastic of them, really.