Canadian MPs debate repeal of single-event betting ban

Canadian betting reformers have reintroduced legislation to the country’s parliament seeking to repeal a ban on single-event sports betting.

Conservative member of parliament Kevin Waugh first introduced private members bill C-218 to Canada’s parliament in February.

The bill missed its second reading before Parliament was prorogued due to the pandemic in August and, consequently, had to be reintroduced.

Having reintroduced the bill this week, the proposed legislation was debated in the country’s House of Commons for the first time on Tuesday 3 November.

The bill, which if passed will be known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, would repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of Canada’s Criminal Code. The law prohibits wagers on a single match or event, stipulating that bets must be placed on at least three games.

The bill has been backed by several operators in the country including the British Columbia Lottery Corporation, as well as The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA).

“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,” said CGA president and CEO Paul Burns in a statement on Tuesday

“I can’t emphasize enough how this small change to the Criminal Code would help communities recover from the economic devastation of the ongoing COVID-19 shutdown.”

Over the summer, a coalition of North American sports leagues also publicly expressed their support for single-event sports betting in Canada.

The National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, Major League Baseball and the Canadian Football League published a joint statement with the CGA, highlighting the fact that single-event betting was already taking place in the country illegally.

“Creating a legal framework would shift consumers from illicit, unregulated markets to a legal and safe marketplace. Regulating single-game betting would allow for strong consumer protections as well as safeguards to further protect the integrity of sports”, it said.

In order to become law, the bill would need to pass three readings, a committee stage, and be approved by the Senate.

David Cassidy, president of the local arm of trade union Unifor, has expressed hope that the bill will pass by April or May 2021. Unifor represents some of the 2,400 workers at the Caesars Windsor casino, which he anticipated could add up 150 jobs as a result of the single-event betting being introduced.

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