Canada Sports Betting Bill Receives Royal Assent

Posted on July 1, 2021
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Written By on July 1, 2021

The bill ending the federal ban on single-event sports betting in Canada received Royal Assent Wednesday.

Now an official act of the Canadian Parliament, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must set an effective date for the Canada sports betting amendment. The Senate of Canada approved bill C-218 on June 22, while the House of Commons approved it in April.

“I am pleased to welcome the Royal Assent of Private Member’s Bill C-218, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting), which will bring the common practice of single event sport betting into a legal, regulated and safe environment, while strengthening our economy and supporting well-paying jobs for Canadians,” David Lametti, minister of justice and attorney general of Canada, said in a statement.

Simple bill to allow Canada sports betting

C-218 amends a line in the Canadian Criminal Code to allow provinces and territories to allow sports betting on single games. Canadian provinces already can offer parlays through their lotteries.

The amendment creates a similar situation as US sports betting following the repeal of PASPA, creating a province-by-province decision on wagering.

Several proposed amendments failed during the legislative process. Lametti said appropriate discussions will now occur, particularly around participation by the First Nations indigenous tribes.

“The Government of Canada is currently engaging with provinces and territories and with Indigenous nations, communities and organizations that have expressed an interest in discussing how gambling is regulated in Canada to better understand and respond to calls for greater opportunities for Indigenous Peoples to participate in the conduct and regulation of gaming in Canada,” he said.

Long journey for sports betting

Various parties called for sports betting in Canada for more than a decade. The Canadian Gaming Association estimates C$14 million is wagered illegally on sports each year.

House of Commons MP Kevin Waugh proposed bill C-218 in February 2020. The Canadian government proposed a similar bill, C-13, in November 2020, acknowledging the federal government in power was supportive of sports betting.

The government picked up C-218 as official legislation in November, killing C-13 as it progressed. Private member bills face an uphill battle, often pushed down the order of business, but C-218 overcame several periods of doubt to pass.

Quick launches expected

Most eyes in the sports betting industry were watching the developments in sports betting in Canada. As soon as it passed the Senate, provincial government and sports betting operators alike released statements of support.

Several provincial lottery sites could launch single-event sports wagering as soon as Trudeau’s effective date, simply adding to their offerings.

Other provinces, like Ontario, might take longer to launch an open market. Ontario, the fifth-largest jurisdiction in the US or Canada, is planning a “competitive and regulated market,” that could launch by the end of the year, according to David Phillips, the COO of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Other provincial plans:

  • British Columbia Lottery Commission: Set to expand PlayNow.com on the effective date set by Trudeau, the British Columbia Lottery Corp. tweeted Wednesday.
  • Alberta: Adding to Play Alberta lottery site this year. A retail model with online component is possible as well, CGA President and CEO Paul Burns said.
  • Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority holds rights for online sports betting, according to Burns.

Operators lining up for Canada market share

Toronto-based theScore is eager to capture market share in its home country. Australian-based PointsBet launched PointsBet Canada.

DraftKings and BetMGM were among the operators that released statements when the bill passed the Senate. DraftKings also expanded its partnership with the NFL to include Canada, while BetMGM aligned with The Hockey News and Wayne Gretzky.

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Pat Evans

Pat Evans is a Las Vegas-based reporter covering sports business. Evans previously worked at Front Office Sports and the Grand Rapids Business Journal. He has authored two books: Grand Rapids Beer and Nevada Beer.

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