This week, Canada has taken another step closer to the legalisation of single event sports betting, with Bill C-218 passing a second reading by private members of the House of Commons. For further review, it has now been referred to committee, one of the main phases that the legislation would have to go through to become enshrined in law.
Proponents of legalisation are calling for continued pressure to ensure that Bill C-218 makes it across the finish line with this new barrier cleared.
The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC), which urged Ottawa to work together to bring sports betting on the statute books, is among them.
Work together collaboratively
Stewart Groumoutis, Director of eGaming, said: “We’re calling on all Members of Parliament to work together collaboratively to legalise single-event betting for the benefit of our players and provinces. Our players want single-event sports betting, and we are ready to provide this enhanced offering to them in a safe and responsible manner while also generating additional revenue for the Province of BC.”
The Canadian Criminal Code, which originally prohibited all types of gambling in the country, is the sticking point for sports betting in Canada, although it now permits parlay wagering on sporting events.
Placing single-event sports bets involves moving across the border to casinos like Washington State or wagering on unregulated websites for offshore gambling.
According to BCLC, its PlayNow.com website will rapidly create a new suite of sports betting opportunities, the only such regulated facility in BC. In the longer term, it said that it will collaborate with industry, regulators and government partners in land-based casinos and community gaming centers to implement licensed sportsbooks in key markets.
In addition, BCLC announced that it will consider enhanced sports-betting offerings that sell lottery items, such as bars and pubs, at hospitality locations around BC. The company also predicted that single-event sports betting via online and land-based opportunities would produce an estimated CA$125m to CA$175m in additional revenue.
Process to amend an outdated law
John Levy, Founder and CEO of Score Media and Gaming, was also behind the calls this week for legalisation. “Today’s development in the House of Commons, focusing on the legalisation of single event sports betting in Canada, is a significant step forward in the process to amend an outdated law,” he said, speaking on the passage of the second reading.
“The positive outcome of today’s vote demonstrates the continuing momentum and strong cross-party support for this issue. We expect that the legalization of single event sports betting will facilitate the introduction by provinces and territories of a much-needed modernized sports betting framework in their respective jurisdictions that can include important consumer protections and the ability to generate new revenue streams for provincial and territorial governments.”
He added: “As Canada’s leading mobile sports media brand with a uniquely integrated sports betting platform, we look forward to collaborating with key stakeholders as the legislative process continues, to ensure that betting reform works for all Canadians and their communities.”
TheScore has presented its own forecasts of the online gaming industry potential in Canada, estimating annual gross gaming sales of US$3.8 billion and US$5.4 billion based on historical data extrapolated from the US and global legal online gaming markets.