What happened to the much anticipated bill to legalize single event sports betting? Betters are standing by in Canada.
Federal Justice Minister David Lametti was expected to introduce the legislation.
Old story comes of age
It would end the decades old prohibition on gambling and stymie the black market. Betters want to be able to wager on a single sports game and not just participate in “parlay” bets. They usual must bet on more than one game, and pick the winning team in each contest. The problem is that the odds of a winning parlay bet are low.
Meanwhile the larger casinos have been pushing the federal government to take action and terminate the old Criminal Code regarding betting. They all would see a boost in revenues and could compete with their U.S. neighbors. Caesars Windsor and Woodbine in Toronto are waiting in the wings.
Paul Burns, President of Canadian Gaming Association notes that it has taken years of advocacy work by MPs and local communities to finally encourage the government to stem the tide of wagered money moving offshore.
Given the impact of this past horrendous year for the gambling business, in-person gaming at casinos and racetracks has been devastated.
“It doesn’t cost the federal government a thing but it gives us another product, another channel, to help us attract customers back to our businesses when it’s safe to do so.”
A similar bill is on tap in Saskatchewan from MP Kevin Waugh who seeks to make it lawful for a provincially licensed entity to allow betting on a single sporting event or athletic contest.
“Implementing this change would be a massive boost to the tourism, sports, and gaming sectors, and a significant win for the workers and communities that rely on them.”
Meanwhile, the federal Criminal Code is the final word on gambling regulations and laws. Burns has voiced the expectation is that the government will simply replicate Waugh’s bill.
In addition, more attempts have been launched. One is by NDP MP Brian Masse, who represents Windsor West. In 2016, he introduced a private member’s bill along the same lines. The government voted against that legislation, fearing match-fixing.
The benefits could be legion
The legislation is no doubt a major priority as legalization would result in much-needed government revenue. After all, the statistics say that an estimated $14 billion in annual sports betting is wagered in Canada. Of course, a good portion at $10 billion is through the black market (through bookies) while $4 billion comes from off-shore online outlets.
Players want to gamble on just one game and they have found a way to do so on illegal channels. New legislation would shut this option down to help Canadian casinos and gambling sites compete on an even playing field. According to Burns,
“Sports betting is such a huge part of the online business. It will really just allow Canadian companies to compete.
Everyone will have the same regulatory relationship.”
The industry has been asking for over a decade to stem the tide of substantial revenues flowing to unregulated, illegal operations and offshore Internet sites without any financial benefit to Canadians.
Recent legalization of single event sports betting in the U.S. has set an example. In fact, in 2018, the Supreme Court overturned the old federal limits. Thus, casinos in Michigan and New York have been putting a damper on Canadian efforts.
As in the U.S., legalization could fill the local coffers in Canada and unleash a revenue boom. Burns added,
“Communities like Niagara and Windsor are competing with sports betting across the border. Now, they’ll have a new product to entice customers to come back, safely.”
Federal government to table bill to legalize single-event sports betting | CBC News