Good news for Canadian sports betting fans ahead of the festive season! It seems that single-event sports betting could be on the way after the latest news from the legislature.
The Canadian federal government has twice thwarted attempts to permit single-game sports betting, but this time the chances of success seem higher. Bill C-218, which would remove the ban on single-game betting, is due to be put forward as government legislation by Minister of Justice David Lametti on Thursday, in what could be the first step towards change.
If the new bid for single sports betting is successful, it will be partly down to the influence of US sports betting. The existence of legal single-game sports betting in the states of Michigan, New Hampshire, and New York has effectively brought it to Canada’s borders.
Understandably, there has been a positive reaction from industry groups and operators. The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) said that they were pleased that the government had taken seriously the pressing need to reform the Canadian Criminal Code both to provide safeguards for Canadian sports betting customers and as a way to boost economic recovery in the country. They also pointed to the fact that this was an official piece of government legislation, so they had a good chance of being dealt with quickly and would have all-party support from legislators.
Speaking about the news, the CEO of the CGA, Paul Burns, expressed confidence that legalization of single-event sports betting was just weeks away:
“We are grateful for the government stepping in to ensure passage. The Bill enjoys strong support from all the major parties in the House of Commons, so we are extremely confident it will be able to pass later this spring.”
There was also positive comment from politicians, including MP Irek Kusmierczyk, whose Ontario district includes the Caesars Windsor casino operation.
That venue, close to the US border and the state of Michigan, where sports betting is now legal, has experienced the limitations of the current Canadian sports betting rules directly, and local leaders have been vocal about pushing for changes.
It has been estimated that as much as $14.5 billion is bet on sports throughout Canada every year, at least, according to the CGA. But due to the rules outlawing single-event sports betting, the CGA says that most of that betting is conducted with offshore illegal operators. In fact, they have estimated that as little as $500 million is bet legally every year.
In addition to widespread support from industry and political figures, there has been surprise backing for the change from an unexpected source. Earlier this year, a joint letter that supported the removal of the ban on single-game betting was received from five sports commissioners. Randy Ambrosie, of the Canadian Football League, Adam Silver from the NBA and Gary Bettman at the NHL all backed the change, along with Don Garber of the MLS and Rob Manfred, who heads the MLB.
Traditionally, the major North American sports leagues had been some of the biggest opponents of sports betting, but their change in approach has reflected the shifting landscape of US sports betting and the accompanying financial and marketing opportunities.
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