Canadian Parliament considers New Legislation for Sports Betting
Canadian lawmakers have another shot at legalising sports betting, albeit to a limited extent, when a new bill comes up for discussion. Introduced by Brian Masse, Member of Parliament for Windsor West, this bill has been termed the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act and it intends to make single-game sports betting legal. The gambling industry hasn’t yet started celebrating, though, because this isn’t bill is only the latest in long standing attempts to make sports betting legal in the country. In fact, this bill is a re-introduction of another bill that did not get much support on account of a number of reasons.
As of the present, Canadians can only participate in multi-game parlay betting offered by the various provincial lottery monopolies in the country. If the bill were to become law then the different provinces and territories would be permitted to authorize betting on any individual contest or sporting event. This will be made possible by deleting one section of the country’s Criminal Code that currently criminalizes this type of betting.
Masse is of the opinion that such a law will be of immense advantage to the gambling industry. The market is currently dominated by grey market operators since it is unregulated, but Masse claims that the current operators also feel that regulation is necessary.
Masse’s constituency of Windsor West is home to the Caesars Windsor casino which seeks to boost business by offering sports betting. If the casino were to offer a sportsbook then it would be able to attract business from across the border since Americans are very far from getting sports betting legalized in their country. There is no doubt at all that Masse has a lot of support from his constituents on this issue since casinos offer ample opportunities to boost employment.
The introduction of this bill has been a fairly lucky break for the gambling industry since Masse’s New Democratic Party cannot dictate any legislative agenda on account of being in the opposition. This is a private member’s bill and Masse has been able to introduce it, strangely enough, because he won a parliamentary lottery.
The last attempt to legalise gambling in Canada was in 2012 when former Member of Parliament, Joe Comartin was able to get initial support for his private member’s bill C-290, but was unable to see it through to become law. Incidentally, Comartin was from the same political party as Masse, the New Democratic Party.
Canadian lawmakers will begin the process of debating the bill only next month and it is expected to go through intense scrutiny. Furthermore, the professional sports leagues are expected to oppose it robustly, as they have done in the past. As a matter of fact, the main opposition to the bill will come from the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. The major professional sporting leagues have opposed sports betting in Canada and the United States on the grounds that it will bring about illegal practices in sports. There is no doubt a lot riding on this new bill and it will be interesting to see what the lawmakers finally decide.