The Senate adopted the third and final reading of Bill C-218, The Safe and Regulated Sports Act, Tuesday evening, bringing an end to Canada’s decade-long struggle to legislate single sports wagering.
Bill C-218, which was passed without alteration, will allow Canada’s ten provinces to decide whether or not to regulate single-event wagering on pro-sports events independently.
Bill C-218 is especially significant since it removes gambling from the Criminal Code as a federal discipline, leaving gambling regulations and punishments in the hands of individual province executives.
President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), Paul Burns said: “This is a major milestone and achievement for the Canadian gaming industry.
“The CGA has been working to legalise single-event sports betting for more than 10 years and Bill C-218 benefited from a groundswell of broad stakeholder support from across Canada. The need for regulation, oversight, player protection, and the creation of economic benefits for Canada was understood by everyone involved in the legislative process, which is why the Bill was successfully passed.”
Bill C-218 was introduced in the beginning of 2020 by long-time sports betting enthusiast Brian Masse, MP for Windsor West Ontario.
Bill C-218’s voyage was endorsed by Kevin Waugh, MP for Saskatoon-Grasswood, as the Bill’s sponsor in the House, following previous failed final hearings to legalise single sports wagering.
Last summer, the CGA gained a “vital outreach” from Canadian and American professional sports teams (the NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB) asking MPs to support Bill C-218, which would decriminalise and modernise Canada’s gambling regulations.
Senator David Wells, the Bill’s sponsor, supported Bill C-218 through its Senate readings as stakeholders prepared for its Royal Assent after it passed the Commons.
Following yesterday’s approval, the CGA released a list of supporters and witnesses who contributed to Bill C-218 receiving Royal Assent, with Gord Brown, MP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, being recognised as a “tireless champion” for the cause.
Dramatically improve the ability to offer sports betting
Carrie Kormos, Chair of the CGA said: “The serious and thoughtful consideration of Bill C-218 by Senators and Members of Parliament will dramatically improve the ability to offer sports betting in Canada and provide an important competitive tool for an industry that has been severely impacted by COVID-19 shutdowns.”
The government of Ontario, which is expected to unveil its legal framework for regulating igaming services in Canada’s most populous state, will now be the centre of industry attention.
The passage of Bill C-218 is seen as a necessary step in ensuring the launch of Ontario’s independent online gambling regime, which has been designed by the province’s Ministry of Finance.
Help Ontario capture that grey market activity
Stan Cho, MP for Willowdale and policy executive for Ontario’s Ministry of Finance, said last month at the SBC Digital North America conference: “The bill will change federal codes to legalise single sports betting, but more importantly it will help Ontario capture that grey market activity – sports betting is a crucial offering for any legal gambling regime.”
Cho acknowledged that the Ontario Treasury had been inundated with market estimates ranging from $500 million to $1 billion per year, but insisted that the priority was to create a level playing field for businesses, promote safer gambling rules, and secure a legislative guarantee to launch Canada’s first regulated marketplace.