Canada ‘Single Sports Betting Act’ enters final Commons passage

The Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) is monitoring Commons developments closely as ‘Bill C-218 – The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act’ enters its final passage to become a federal legislation.  

Updating industry stakeholders, the CGA confirmed that Ottawa’s House of Commons will undertake its final review of Bill C-218, which aims to amend Canada’s criminal code to allow for single sports betting in licensed venues. 

November proceedings saw Commons undertake its second readings of Bill C-218, which had been formally tabled by Conservative MP Kevin Waugh and bill author Brian Masse MP for Windsor West (Ontario). 

“The CGA is pleased that the federal government has recognised the urgent need to amend the Criminal Code to offer safeguards to Canadians as well as an economic recovery tool for the provinces,” said the CGA in a statement.

This summer, the CGA led a coalition of North American professional sports including the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS Soccer and Canadian Football Leagues, urging the government to fast track single sports betting for its 2021 legislative agenda.

Meanwhile, it has garnered the support of Canadian casinos, with trade unions stating that a regulated sports betting framework could be launched by the second-half of next year.

Irrespective of Bill C-218’s outcome, Canada’s gambling frameworks will be radically altered in 2021, as Ontario’s legislative assembly sanctioned the creation of a ‘liberalised igaming market’ as a directive of its 2021 budget.

Supporting changes, Ontario Premier Doug Ford stated that Canada’s most populous state could no longer be served by the monopoly contract of the Ontario Lottery & Gaming Corp, which would be unable to match sweeping changes across the border as state-by-state US jurisdictions regulate sports betting.

Meanwhile, Ontario’s Treasury estimated that around C$500 million had been spent by Ontario residents wagering on unlicensed websites – a concern noted by MP Waugh in his address to Commons supporting Bill C-218. 

Mirroring the US, Canada’s progress towards reforming its sports betting laws has been an onerous journey as time and again government have intervened in the final passage of regulation.

In 2016, single sports betting ‘Bill-CG90’ passed its Commons reviews, but would be denied its federal ascension by Canada’s Liberal Party, which rejected the bill’s final passage ahead of a national election.

“We can’t emphasise enough how this small change to the Criminal Code will help communities recover from the economic devastation of the COVID-19 shutdown,” the CGA concluded. “We will continue to update the industry as this bill moves forward.”

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