Canada’s sports betting efforts wiped out by ruling Liberal Party
Like everywhere around the world, sports betting is very popular in Canada as well. However, betting on single sporting events is illegal and with so many sites for sports betting in Canada, bettors were hoping this to be changed with the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act (Bill C-218), which was introduced in Parliament in February. However, due to the coronavirus, Canada’s Parliament refocused its energy on handling with the pandemic, leaving the approval of C-218 for other times. Read below for more details on the situation.
Initiative to legalize single-event sports betting
The boldest initiative to legalize sports betting to single sporting events dates back to 2016. It is still in place, but nowadays, there are only echoes of it. One of the largest casino money-laundering scandals contributed to playing down the efforts since the government has been trying to fix up everything and clean up the mess. Despite this setback, there were still hopes that some progress can be made during 2020, and lawmakers shared their optimism that Bill C-218 can be set in place. However, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted these hopes as the Canadian Parliament switched its focus on the more urgent things. Of course, that made lawmakers disappointed since this situation bring more uncertainty. Hopes for getting Bill C-218 approved this year became slimmer when the ruling Liberal Party prorogued the Canadian Parliament, leaving it along with other numerous issues on hold.
After its first reading, the Safe & Regulated Sports Act was waiting for its second, but the pandemic caused the delay. The support that was backing the bill was more substantial than in the previous years, especially when the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA) stood behind it as well. They finally realized that the legislation of sports betting would bring significant revenue to the country, like in many other countries in the world. Also, sports betting consumers would be protected by a responsible gaming segment. Although the legislation of sports wagering is quite simple, and it can bring several benefits to the country’s economy, lawmakers are still overcomplicating.
The CGA was ready to back the campaign for making efforts on sports betting legislation earlier this year. Its CEO, Paul Burns, said that amending the Criminal Code to legalize single-event sports wagering will provide provinces with the necessary tools to deliver a safe and legal option to Canadians. Besides that, it would give them the power to address critical issues such as consumer protection while enabling economic benefits to flow to licensed gaming operators, communities, and provincial governments.
Current setbacks that put the initiative on hold
However, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the ruling Liberal Party thought that lawmakers need a break. They decided to put Parliament and Commons on vacation that will last until almost the end of September. There has been some debate around this decision, as some argued that legislators need a break due to all the issues they have been with lately. On the other hand, others think this decision might help Trudeau to shift attention away from a scandal that involves him as well. The prorogue should allow the fire to cool off around the fraud over the misuse of millions of dollars of student grant funding.
Despite this, Trudeau expects that the Liberal Party holds a vote of confidence in his leadership. Having that in mind, and since no emphasis has been placed on Bill C-218, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Canadians would need to wait for another couple of years to have access to single-event bets. Of course, this applies to regulated sportsbooks. Until Bill C-218 gets approved, it is estimated that the country will continue to lose around $12 billion a year. Additionally, 182,500 people would still need to wait for finding a job. And sports bettors who prefer wagering on the Champions League would still need to set their sights to the offshore sportsbooks.