Canada sports betting ruling poses further threat to US Pro Leagues

Senator Bob Runciman

While US sports betting’s 2014 agenda has been dominated primarily by New Jersey states attempt to approve sports wagering within legalised gambling premises (casino and race tracks). US concerns on sports betting, may soon shift cross border to Canada where authorities and media have begun to debate the legalisation of sports betting.

Next January the Canadian Senate will review Bill C290, which will seek to make ‘single sports event’ wagering legal. Bill C290 will allow licensed gambling premises/enterprises to take bets on approved sporting events by Canadian regulators.

The bill has received primary backing from Canadian Senator and former Ontario legislature Bob Runciman. Runciman has continually stated that Canadian betting policies are out dated, and would only lead to consumers placing wagers with illegal/criminal bookmakers.

At present Canadian authorities allow betting wagering to be serviced via parlay bets / pools system, where the consumer has to predict numerous sporting outcomes in order to win money.

Furthermore Canadian Police leaders have shown support for the passing of the bill, stating that it would aid its fight against criminal activities caused by illegal gambling. The bill would further ease policing concerns on the matter, as betting would take place in a controlled and monitored environments therefore protecting the consumer from being targeted by criminal gangs.

Canadian news source TSN Canada has estimate that $10billion is wagered through illegal  bookmakers, with a further $5 billion being wagered on unlicensed remote betting operators targeting North American consumers.

Senator Bob Runciman Chief supporter of the bill commented on Canada’s current regulatory framework

“None of it’s been monitored to look for illegal activity, and the biggest downside in my view is that organized crime are the folks who are the benefactors of this, and it helps them support other illegal activities in our society.”

“A regulated system would allow you to monitor increased activity on any particular game so you can find out something’s wrong here, something smells,”

icehockeyCanada’s potential granting of sports betting, will concern the US Pro Leagues as most bets wagered are placed on US sports. Throughout 2014, the Association of US Pro Leagues (NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB) has formed the main opposition to allowing sports betting in New Jersey state.

In October the association won its high court challenge against New Jersey bypassing the 1992 PASPA federal act. Nevertheless creating any cross border challenge on Canada permitting sports betting will likely prove ineffective.

The US Pro Leagues Association could however influence decision making on the pasing of the bill through its Canadian sports franchises . At present Canada has one NBA team (Toronto Rapports), One MLB team (Toronto BlueJays) and seven NHL teams (Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadians, Vancouver Cannucks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Ottawa Senators and Winnipeg Jets)

Toronto Blue Jays owner Paul Beeston expressed concern over legalised sports betting in February 2013 “The point spread or the number of runs scored may overshadow the game’s outcome and the intricacies of play. The very nature of the sports can altered and harmed”.

Canadian political commentators have expressed uncertainty about Bill C290 passing the senate’s approval in January 2015. Pointing out that the bill has had a cumbrous history as it was approved by opposing parties in 2012, yet the bills hearing had been continuously delayed for two years by the senate.

While most politicians and senators have approved the context and passing of the bill, popular belief states that it will face further roadblocks in its progression.

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