The Canadian Senate is expected to debate bill C-290 to legalize single game wagering this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.
The suddenly controversial bill passed unanimously through the House of Commons but recent fear-mongering from the major pro sports leagues has cast doubt the bill will pass through the Senate and achieve Royal Assent. If that happens, it will mark the first time in Canada's 145-year history that the Senate has killed a bill that was unanimously passed by the House of Commons.
Currently, parlay betting on a minimum of two or three games is legal through provincial sports lotteries in Canada. The Canadian Auto Workers Association, which supports the bill, estimates over $100 million will be bet annually in Ontario alone if the bill passes.
"Canadians are betting on sports right now. They're betting on single-game sports in very large numbers," said Canadian Gaming Association vice president Paul Burns. "We estimate that $4 billion is being bet offshore through online sports book operations and probably another $10 billion or so bet through organized crime bookie operations."
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson met with the Conservative caucus of the Senate last last week to remind them the government fully supports this bill. Still, several senators feel they have the votes to shoot down the legislation.
"They (the leagues) talk about the integrity of their sport and concern about match-fixing and the like," said Burns. "And what we've said to them is 'why wouldn't you want a regulated environment with gaming regulators and operators and helping you protect the integrity of your sport?'"