Liberals to Present Bill on Single-Game Sports Betting

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Justice Minister David Lametti; THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Liberal government says it will bring in a bill on one-game sports betting, five years after a previous attempt died in the Senate.

The legislation on the House of Commons notice paper would amend Criminal Code provisions around gambling on single games of football, hockey and other sports, an activity that is currently illegal.

 

The bill could mirror previous parliamentary attempts to reclaim for casinos some of the $14 billion that the Canadian Gaming Association estimates is lost annually to the black market and foreign gambling websites.

In 2012, then-NDP MP for Windsor-Tecumseh Joe Comartin tabled a private member’s bill to allow single-game betting that zipped through the House of Commons with all-party support, but foundered in the Senate and died when an election was called in 2015.

Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk — Windsor-Tecumseh’s current representative — says in a Facebook post that the bill is about protecting 2,500 casino jobs in his region and strengthening the Caesars Windsor casino.

Las Vegas-style betting on single-game sports would open the books to gamblers eager to put down cash on individual games rather than just Pro-Line-style betting, where consumers wager on fixed odds around two or more games, depending on the province.

The legislation is expected to draw in part on a bill tabled earlier this year by Conservative MP Kevin Waugh to repeal the ban on single-event sports betting and pave the way for provinces to regulate the pastime.

The Canadian Gaming Association said Wednesday it is pleased Ottawa has recognized the “urgent need” to decriminalize single-game gambling.

“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,” the association said in a release.

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

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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