Debate kicks off on Canada’s One-Game Sports Betting Bill


The Senate of Canada has started debating a bill that could legalize single-game sports betting nationwide, with the bill’s sponsor in the Upper House seeing a “good chance” of getting it passed before the end of the current session of Parliament if progress is made.

Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, was introduced in the Senate last week after being passed by the House of Commons earlier in April. The bill, if it does eventually become law, would end the long-standing ban on single-game betting in Canada and allow regulation by the provinces.

Conservative David Wells is the sponsor of the bill in the Senate – taking over from Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, who introduced and sponsored the private member’s bill in the House of Commons – and was the first to speak on it Tuesday night in Ottawa after moving it for second reading.

Wells, a senator from Newfoundland and Labrador, suggested that the rules and regulations that provinces currently have in place for the sports betting products they may offer, such as sports betting, could be extended to betting on one game.

“Colleagues, if this bill passes, these strict provincial regulations, frameworks and consumer protections would all apply to sports betting on a single event and the product would be safely presented in the well-regulated daylight. Wells said.

The regulation of single-game betting, Wells noted, could include verification of age and identity, as well as the sharing of information and data that could be used to prevent match-fixing, which is the main reason for the ban on single game betting.

We need to take this on the black and gray markets and bring it to light.

-Senator Wells

Wells responded to a few questions from his fellow senators following his remarks in the Senate. Debate on Bill C-218 was then adjourned shortly thereafter until the next sitting of the Senate, which will take place on Wednesday.

The legalization bill will need to pass a Senate vote before it is likely sent to committee for further consideration. It could then be amended before being sent to the Senate for further consideration and third reading.

If no amendment is made to C-218 by the Senate and it is passed by the House, it can receive Royal Assent and become law. If there are any amendments, the House of Commons will have to consider them, and both Houses of Parliament must agree on the bill, because they must pass identical versions before it becomes law.

The clock is ticking

Time is therefore running out for the bill to pass before a new election can be called, which would end the current session of Parliament and effectively kill the bill. This may be unlikely in the near future, with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging, but it has happened in the past and may become more likely as Canada’s vaccination efforts continue.

In an interview with Covers ahead of his opening speech, Wells said the hope was to have the C-218 before a committee early next week. The Senate is currently scheduled for seven weeks in May and June, during which it will sit before a summer recess.

Asked about the likelihood of the bill going through, Wells said a lot depends on how long it takes to get it through committee, where he expects a thorough study. However, the senator also said the bill appears to have “broad support” among his colleagues.

“There may be amendments in committee, or it can go through committee without amendment, in which case it comes back to the Senate,” Wells added. “If we can get to this, there’s a good chance we can get it through before the end of the session.”

‘In the light’

Canadians who want to bet on sports other than horse racing are currently required to do so with a bet, which requires them to correctly predict the outcome of at least two or more games in order to win. However, Bill C-218 would amend the Criminal Code of Canada to allow provinces (or a person or business they license) to offer bets on single sporting events, except horse racing, which would remain under federal government oversight.

Bill C-218 was passed by the House of Commons and sent to the Senate in April, with broad support among MPs. Despite this, previous attempts to legalize single game betting have failed in Canada’s bicameral Parliament, including Bill C-290, which stalled and died in the Senate when the 2015 federal election was called. .

Yet the latest push comes in the wake of a 2018 Supreme Court ruling that led to legal sports betting across the United States and garnering support from professional sports leagues that were previously opposed to such activity as well. widespread.

According to the Canadian Gaming Association, Canadians already bet around $ 10 billion a year on sports through illegal bookmaking operations, as well as an additional $ 4 billion through offshore websites. A much smaller share, around $ 500 million, is put into sport using products provided by the provinces. Passage of Bill C-218 could allow Canadian governments to increase their share.

“We need to take this out of the black and gray markets and bring it to light,” Wells told fellow senators. “Colleagues, this is a bill we should all support. A vote against it would not be a vote against gambling, it would be a vote against increased protections, regulations and community programs. “

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