Professional sports leagues have thrown their weight behind single-game sports betting in Canada.
Commissioners from the NBA, MLB, NHL, CFL and MLS all signed a letter sent to the Canadian federal government.
“[The leagues] support an amendment to Canada’s federal laws that would authorize provinces to offer betting on single sporting events. Sports betting already happens illegally in Canada; creating a legal framework would shift consumers from illicit, unregulated markets to a legal and safe marketplace. Regulating single-game betting would allow for strong consumer protections as well as safeguards to further protect the integrity of sports.”
Copies of the letter were sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as the country’s finance minister, justice minister and attorney general.
What is the Canadian sports betting landscape?
At present, Canadians can only legally bet on sports through parlays at the provincial lotteries.
However, there is a thriving market for offshore operators. The Canadian Gaming Association estimates $14 billion is wagered every year with illegal, offshore bookmakers.
Meanwhile, just $500 million is wagered through regulated means.
Canada sports betting bill in the works
Canada sports betting’s best chance of federal legislation looks to be the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act. The bill was introduced in Parliament in February.
Co-sponsor Kevin Waugh told the Windsor Star he hoped to fast-track the bill for passage this summer.
“This doesn’t need to go through the normal private members’ bill process,” Waugh said. “The government can do this with an order of council like they did with the new gun control laws a month ago. We’ll be putting pressure on the government to get this done before Parliament finishes June 17.”
Fellow bill co-sponsor Brian Masse previously warned that Canada could lose tax dollars as citizens cross the border to bet in Michigan. The vast majority of Canada’s population lives within 100 miles of the US border.
Canadian-based theScore also welcomed the calls for federal betting legislation.
“We’re often asked by our Canadian users how they can bet through theScore, a sports media platform they already know and trust, versus the current list of unregulated offshore providers,” said CEO John Levy.
“When the opportunity to do that arises, theScore will be ready to offer Canadians a truly best-in-class mobile sports betting experience with theScore Bet.”