Fight to legalize single-game betting renewed in Canada

The battle to legalize single-game wagering in Canada and get Bill C-290 passed in the Senate was renewed Tuesday.

Member of Parliament Mr. Brian Masse rose the issue to fellow elected officials for the first time since the summer break and recent prorogation of parliament by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"Bill C-290 would allow provinces to choose to allow single sports bets, similar to Las Vegas and a series of other federal states," Masse said. "Once passed, it would be a serious hit on organized crime."

Right now, sports bettors can only bet legally in Canada through parlay form via provincial lotteries. A cite in support of the bill, C290now.ca, estimates that over $23 billion has been wagered illegally by Canadians since C-290 entered into the Senate in March of 2012.

"Unfortunately with prorogations, Bill C-290 has returned to the first stage in the Senate, a setback to law and order and our economy," Masse said.

When Parliament is prorogued, the current session is ended and all unresolved public bills are terminated. The only good news for sports bettors is that C-290 is a private members bill, so it needs only to return to the first reading in the Senate and progress from there.

Typically when a bill is passed unanimously in the House, it breezes through the Senate and is rubber-stamped into law. The function of the Senate, made up of appointed officials, is to provide "sober second thought" on bills - not to get in the way of democracy like what is clearly happening in this instance.

Never before in Canada's history has a bill that was unanimously passed in the House gone on to be shot down by the Senate. But controversy arose during the third and final reading in the Senate when a small handful of Senators cited concerns like match fixing and the vulnerability of players to corruption because their wives are too greedy.

As ludicrous as it may sound, it's this small group of Senators that are holding up an issue that most Canadians either support or don't care about. 

So it's not quite back to Square 1 for C-290, but the process just got a little bit longer. Hopefully, this time around common sense will prevail.

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