Legal Single-Game Sports Betting In Canada Closer To Reality As Government Backs Bill

Posted on November 25, 2020

The holiday season just turned a bit merrier for anyone in Canada interested in more than just sports betting through parlays.

The federal government has shot down attempts to legalize single-game sports betting in Canada twice before. This time, though, it’s taking a new approach.

C-218, which removes the ban on single-game betting, will be introduced by Minister of Justice David Lametti as government legislation Thursday.

Hopeful Canadian bettors can thank the continued rollout of US sports betting for at least part of the renewed push. Legal sports betting in Michigan, New Hampshire and New York brought single-game betting right to Canada’s borders.

Positive reaction to government backing full sports betting in Canada

The Canadian Gaming Association is quite bullish on the news:

“The CGA is pleased that the federal government has recognized the urgent need to amend the Criminal Code to offer safeguards to Canadians as well as an economic recovery tool for the provinces.

“By introducing a government bill, the industry can be assured that it will be dealt with in a timely manner and will benefit from all-party support to see it through.”

“We are grateful for the government stepping in to ensure passage,” added the Association’s CEO Paul Burns. “The Bill enjoys strong support from all the major parties in the House of Commons so we are extremely confident it will be able to pass later this spring.”

MP Irek Kusmierczyk, whose district includes Caesars Windsor in Ontario, also offered positive commentary to The Windsor Star.

The expansion of legal US sports betting, especially just over the border near Caesars Windsor in Michigan, led to renewed interest from local leaders this year. Ontario even included support of a federal change in its budget this year.

“Because it’s a government bill now, this is a huge step, because in all likelihood this is going to get done,” Kusmierczyk told the Star. “I am confident this is going to get done.”

Offshore operations dominate Canadian market

There’s an estimated C$14.5 billion bet on sports in Canada every year, according to the CGA. But because of its parlay requirements, very little of that betting happens legally.

Just C$500 million of that total is bet legally on parlays, which leaves plenty of action for unregulated operators.

The movement got significant support over the summer from previously unlikely backers: major sports leagues.

A joint letter supporting the end of the single-game betting ban came from five commissioners:

  • Adam Silver, NBA
  • Gary Bettman, NHL
  • Rob Manfred, MLB
  • Don Garber, Major League Soccer
  • Randy Ambrosie, Canadian Football League
Photo by Gene J. Puskar / The Associated Press
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Matthew Waters

Matthew Waters is a reporter covering legal sports betting and the gambling industry. Previous stops include Fantini Research and various freelance jobs covering professional and amateur sports in Delaware and the Philadelphia area.

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