Supporters of single-game sports betting in Canada hope the third time is the charm to strike down the country’s federal ban.
Canada’s current laws only allow betting on parlays of two or more events. That accounts for about C$500 million in annual handle, according to the Canadian Gaming Association.
That’s a far cry from the estimated C$14 billion bet with offshore sportsbooks, though.
The issue is now back in the federal limelight as C-218, which had its second hearing in the House of Commons on Tuesday. Obviously, the last few attempts in 2012 and 2016 were unsuccessful.
What’s new below Canada?
There’s been a big change since then, however: legal US sports betting spreading across the country at an impressive pace.
Now it’s not just foreign companies and illegal offshores taking Canada sports betting dollars, backers say. Legal sports betting in border states like Michigan and New York could hurt nearby communities that survive on tourism dollars.
“This poses a unique threat to our communities of Niagara Falls and Windsor, whose economies largely rely on the cross-border tourism, and gaming is a big part of the tourism sector,” said Kevin Waugh, sponsor of C-218. “It is a big concern for these communities that if they aren’t able to offer this service they will lose significant amount of business to their competition in the United States.”
Support grows for single-game sports betting in Canada
It isn’t just a group of politicians and casinos that want single-game sports betting in Canada this time around. The fight gained some significant supporters over the summer: major professional sports leagues.
Commissioners from the NBA, NHL, MLB, MLS and the Canadian Football League penned a joint letter supporting the movement for single-game sports betting.
Multiple members of parliament spoke in favor of C-218 at its second hearing earlier this week as well. They included Rhéal Fortin, who pledged the support of the Bloc Québécois, which is the party of 32 of the House of Commons‘ 338 members.
US sports betting operator and Canadian-born media company theScore Bet and its CEO John Levy also back the bill:
“We strongly support this bill to amend Canada’s outdated federal laws and give sports fans the choice to wager on single events. Canadians deserve a modernized, regulated, and competitive sports betting market, and the reintroduction of this bill is another important step in that direction.”
Ontario pledges support in budget
The province of Ontario supports the effort to repeal the single-game ban in its 2020 budget:
The Province will also continue to engage with the federal government to encourage the legalization of single-event sports wagering. Legal single-event sports wagering would help support the growth of a competitive online gambling market in the province and, as a popular form of wagering, would also benefit other parts of the gaming sector.
Ontario is the largest Canadian province by population with more than 14 million citizens and holds more than a third of the House of Commons seats.
Single-game betting would help support Ontario’s push to open its iGaming market to private operators, which was also listed in the budget.