Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, was the topic of two days of witness testimony before the Senate’s Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee last week, as part of efforts to advance new legislation regulating single-event sports betting in Canada.
Following the appearance of the final witnesses, the Committee began a clause-by-clause review of the Bill, which will be referred back to the Senate on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.
Paul Burns, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, was one of the witnesses, along with Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner of the Canadian Football League; Chief Gina Deer, Mohawk Council of Kahanwà:ke; Zane Hansen, President & CEO, Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority; Shelley White, CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council; and Stewart Groumoutis, Director eGaming, British Columbia Lottery Corporation.
Several groups, notably the Alberta Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Corporation, also filed submissions.
While prospects remain high for Bill C-218’s approval, several senators are sceptical that it can be verified on the books without additional safeguards.
According to The Globe and Mail, former Ottawa police chief Vernon White has offered an amendment that, if passed, would bring the proposed legislation back to the House of Commons for a second vote.
In that case, the bill’s final approval may not come until June 23, when the House and Senate are slated to go for the summer session.
Participation in the fixing of a sporting events
While White has stated that he is not opposed to single-event sports betting in Canada, he believes that the bill needs to be amended to make it illegal to participate in the fixing of a sporting event. “My primary concern is that we have not corrected that. And it’s an easy amendment, And it’s an easy amendment”, he remarked, according to The Globe & Mail.
Senator Brent Cotter, the bill’s official critic, stated that White’s suggested change will most likely be considered by the Senate Banking Committee. “If it doesn’t succeed there,” he said in the report, “my guess is that it might get considered again in the Senate, on the chamber floor at third reading.”
He also stated that the law’s chances of passing before summer are better than 50/50, a probability that will not be comforting to professional sports leagues, huge sports betting and media firms, and others who have pressured senators to enact the bill quickly.