Single-game sports betting appears to be in the future for Canadian gamblers, with news that the Federal Government is expected to pick up Bill C-218 – the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act – and turn it into a government bill Wednesday afternoon.
According to a release from the Canadian Gaming Association, the bill will be introduced in the House of Commons as “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (single event sport betting)" by the Justice Minister at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, November 25.
If approved by the House and Senate, the bill will amend the criminal code for single-game sports betting, which is currently prohibited in Canada. Provincial lotteries offer a parlay-based sports betting market, however, competition from online and illegal operators has drawn an estimated $15 billion offshore while just $500 million is wagered legally through the lottery.
“By introducing a government bill, the industry can be assured that it will be dealt with in a timely manner and will benefit from all-party support to see it through,” the CGA said in a statement.
“Amending the Criminal Code to legalize single-event sports wagering will provide provinces with the necessary tools to deliver a safe and legal option to Canadians while enabling economic benefits to flow to licensed gaming operators, communities and provincial governments.”
Not only would legal single-game wagering bolster the product offered by provincial lottery corporations and land-based casinos, but it would allow other sports betting operators to enter Canada and create a competitive marketplace, to the benefit of the sports bettor, similar to the sports gaming gold rush occurring in the United States.
The U.S. repealed PASPA (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992) in May 2018, which opened the state-by-state rollout of legal sports betting. There are currently 20 states with regulated sports betting and a handful more with wheels in motion.
“I want to make sure there’s broad access, ensuring casino operators have access to sportsbooks,” Paul Burns, president and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, told Covers when asked about single-game wagering last fall. “And I don’t want it strictly limited to one channel. I want to have a nice variety of land-based and online offerings. That’s what will make it successful.”
This push for single-game wagering is not a new one and gaming advocates have watched previous bills pass the House of Commons with ease but die on the table in the Canadian Senate. Antiquated views on sports betting and opposition from professional leagues held back bills like C-290 in 2012 - the first bill to ever pass unanimously in the House but fail to get approval by the Senate.
With the stigma of sports betting removed over the past two years and pro leagues now deeply entrenched in the gaming side of the business, Bill C-218 is a betting favorite to get the stamp of approval and soon allow single-game wagering for sports fans North of the Border.