Chairman and CEO of Score Media and Gaming Inc, John Levy, testified before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights this week as part of the committee’s investigation into Bill C-218, a bill to change the Criminal Code to allow single-event sports betting in Canada.
In his remarks to the committee, he stressed the importance of introducing laws that would also help to eliminate black market gaming in Canada and raise revenue through taxation.
As an introduction, he stated: “I’m proud to appear before you today on behalf of theScore, a Canadian innovation success story and third generation family business. Following in the footsteps of my father, who was a pioneer in the Canadian cable television industry, we have built theScore into a North American leader in sports media, betting and esports.”
Turning his focus to single-event sports wagering, he stated: “Canada is now poised to usher in this vibrant industry that has the potential to be transformative for our economy. Sports betting has flourished in the US since its legalization in 2018.
“It has created thousands of jobs, generated additional advertising revenue for sports media platforms and sponsorship revenue for teams and leagues, and produced significant tax proceeds for states. All while providing a highly regulated system for fans to feel comfortable placing bets on the teams and sports they love.
“It is clear that a similar thoughtful and modernised legalised wagering framework would benefit all Canadians.”
Consumer protection laws
Levy has stressed the importance of consumer protections in the new law, saying: “The essential component of the public policy conversation around this bill is underscored by quoting the bill’s name in full: the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act.
“Unregulated and illegal sports gambling is rampant across our country and offers no consumer protections or tax revenues for the provinces. Sports wagering needs to be monitored and regulated with comprehensive oversight to protect consumers.
“Bill C-218 will allow the provinces to implement necessary consumer safeguards to provide for a safe and responsible sports wagering environment. These have been established by provincial and territorial governments for other forms of wagering over decades. Single event sports betting will seamlessly integrate within these regulatory frameworks already in place.”
Bill C-218 approval
Following that, Levy urged the House of Commons and Senate to approve Bill C-218 as soon as possible, saying: “In connection with the legalisation of single event sports wagering, we acknowledge the need for the horse racing industry to be safeguarded.
“We note that Bill C-13, the government version of this legislation, contained language to properly address this issue and we support an amendment to Bill C-218 that will replicate the approach of Bill C-13 to ensure that the interests of the horse racing industry are protected.
“Time is of the essence with the passing of this bill. These gaming revenues represent a significant boost to a recovering economy, incenting job creation and regional economic development in many communities that will see direct and immediate benefits.”
He continued by warning of the dangers of delaying passage: “Until this bill is passed, consumers will continue to remain exposed as they engage with unregulated outfits. There is now widespread industry and clear cross-party support to amend this outdated Federal law, and it is time to seize the opportunity.”