The path for Canada sports betting could become clear at next week’s hearing
This is the crunch time for single bets in Canada.
On 9th MarchThe House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights held a hearing on Bill C-218, a law amending the Criminal Code. This is commonly known as the bill that would allow provinces to allow single game betting in Canada.
This hearing is one of the last steps before a third reading before Parliament, which will start the bill for a final vote and then, if successful, to the Governor General for Royal Approval before they become law.
I’m going back to Canada, Canada
For the past 10 years, much effort has been made in Canada to repeal a provision in the country’s criminal code that bans sports betting for individual games. Despite the availability of parlay-style bets on many sporting events across the country, the Criminal Code prohibits betting on individual sporting events under Section 207 (4) (B).
This bill would repeal that law. Similar to that Supreme CourtDejected decision PASPA by doing United StatesThis move would then open the door for Canadian provinces and territories to decide how to proceed with single game betting.
While initially rejected by many of the major sports leagues in its earlier iteration in 2012 and 2013Many former opponents have surfaced in this version of the bill, just as the US professional sports leagues have largely embraced sports betting.
The bill, which had its second (of three) readings back in February, is progressing and is viewed by many as likely, although it is still unclear how legal sports betting will be introduced.
March hearing on Canadian sports betting
The March 9 hearing was held in person and via Zoom (available here). The meeting was split into two separate blocks.
The first block contained statements from:
- Chris D. Lewis, the retired commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police
- William (Bill) Ford, President of Canada Inc.
- Jim Lawson and Christina Litz from Woodbine Entertainment Group
Testifying first in his personal capacity, Mr Lewis noted that, much like decriminalizing marijuana, decriminalizing single game sports betting would eclipse activity. He found that the investigation into organized criminal operations is extremely resource-intensive.
Mr. Lewis concluded by stating that a regulated market is preferable to an illegal market and would better protect consumers.
How horse racing fits in with it
Second, Bill Ford testified that the horse racing industry has been helping legalize single bets with fixed odds over the past few months.
However, Mr Ford argued that the bill, as currently being drafted, could allow fixed-odds betting on horse races without endorsing the industry. There is another bill that Mr Ford stated would protect the industry and requested that the preferred language be added in the second bill to protect the industry. Mr. Ford also called for historic horse racing to be legalized in Canada.
Lawson was accompanied by Christina Litz and testified how important horse racing is to Canada. Ms. Litz testified on the impact horse racing has on Canada, noting that the industry contributes more than 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars to the economy.
Ms. Litz argued that it is vital to consider the unintended consequences for the horse racing industry if they are not protected by laws that legalize single bets with fixed odds. Mr. Lawson piggybacked on Ms. Litz’s testimony, arguing like Mr. Ford that Bill C-218 threatens to cannibalize the parimutuel industry without giving anything back to the industry.
Mr. Lawson expressed the need to adopt language that would protect the horse racing industry.
The second block
The second block of witnesses represented:
- British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC)
- Quebec Jockey Club
- Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario Horsemen
What they said
Murielle Thomassin, the circuit manager of the Trois Rivieres racetrack, was the first to testify. Like the witnesses in the first block, Ms. Thomassin noted the importance of the parimutuel industry to the horse racing industry.
Stewart Groumoutis and Dr. Jamie Wiebe Second, the BCLC testified that the bill would modernize Canada’s law and protect Canadian consumers. Mr. Groumoutis noted that this legislation is “long overdue” and that British Columbians are currently either crossing the border and going there Washington Casinos or offshore betting.
Mr. Groumoutis noted that there are plans to introduce sports betting for individual games on the BCLC’s online gaming website PlayNow.com. He also noted that BCLC is at the forefront of monitoring and protecting the health of gamers and has received numerous awards for monitoring problematic gaming behaviors.
Mr. Groumoutis concluded by stating that single game sports betting is something Canada is ready for.
Last were to be witnessed Sue Leslie and Ian Howard of Benevolent and Protective Association of Ontario Horsemen. Ms. Leslie argued that horse racing with fixed odds would break the industry.
Canadian sports betting legislation is supported
There appears to be widespread support for legalized single game sports betting in Canada, although the bill, as currently being drafted, appears problematic for the horse racing industry.
The vast majority of witnesses on March 9 stated that the bill would have a devastating impact on the industry. However, the solution to the protective language appears to be relatively straightforward, although it is unclear whether there is any contradiction to the added language.
In addition to the testimony of March 9th, written pleadings were published accompanying the testimony of a hearing on February 25th. The Responsible Gaming Council advocated calling for the following:
a solid legal framework in which provincial regulators and operators must prioritize consumer protection and integrate it into their strategy; including adherence to and accountability to the highest standards of responsible gaming.
This would go hand in hand with the continued commitment of the federal government to addiction prevention.
The Alberta Liquor and Cannabis Commission also spoke out in favor of Bill C-218 and, like the BCLC, noted that he would offer consumers new options on “Alberta’s only regulated online gambling website, PlayAlberta.ca”.
At the end of the meeting it was agreed that a budget of $ 2,650 Bill C-218 and study that at the next meeting on 25th MarchThe committee is making a clause-by-clause assessment of C-218 (the bill is only a few lines long).
Eventually the committee agreed that the Canadian Football League Players’ Association be invited to appear. After the March 25 hearing, the schedule for single game sports betting should become clearer.