After spending years of failing to legalize single-game sports betting, Canada appears to be crossing that bridge – at last. After all, this activity is legal on the other side of the border and is widely available from offshore sites.
All major professional sports leagues are in favor. Why not? Single-game sports betting has long been highly popular yet illegal in Canada. Jason Robins, CEO of DraftKings is on board of the legislation train that will change things dramatically.
A new bill would be a departure from the long-established ban by the federal government per Section 202 of the Criminal Code of Canada. The provincial authorities were delegated the task of enforcing criminal laws.
It wasn’t until 1985 that gaming laws were amended and not it seems the right time to invite single-game sports betting to the legal table. The opposition that had killed bill C-290 has since died down.
Now years have gone by since 2012 and the first efforts. Thanks go to Federal Justice Minister David Lametti for aligning nearly all major government parties in favor of legalizing single-game sports betting.
Why is it so important?
Everyone wants to see a boost to the economies of the various provinces. It can lead to expansion initiatives and support local causes. Online single-game sports betting could be wildly successful if it imitates what has happened in the U.S.
It will no doubt start in those provinces that current support monopolies running the local gambling operations. For example, lottery and gaming authorities now control the current legal parlay sports betting offerings across Canada.
Of note, they also control Quebec’s casinos and online poker sector. Now private entities could change the picture considerably. For example, in Ontario, iGaming would come under the purview of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, which oversees a variety of industries including aspects of the horse racing industry and Ontario’s legal cannabis stores.
To privatize or not?
Legalization was attempted in the past, but it is still a heated debate on both sides who are for or against privatization of once government monopolies (Government Business Enterprises). Privatization of monopolies is therefore not a new quest.
Both liberal and conservative governments have floated the idea.
But with a looming budget deficit of $38 billion this year, Ontario faces a challenge in the year to come. But this plan is different from traditional models of privatization. The Ford government could allow online gaming marketplace, but a decision awaits interested parties.
It could come down to new partnerships and joint ventures like Caesars World owned by the province. This is a model for possible new sports betting products. Currently, Proline in Ontario, the Western Canada Lottery provinces and Atlantic Canada, Sports Action in British Columbia, and Mise O Jeu in Quebec are authorized to offer them.
Mobile betting could take off if all goes well. Already you can place parlay bets online in some regions of Canada, but it is not countrywide. Fortunately, lottery retailer websites are okay in Quebec and British Columbia.