“Quebec-7013 – Canada’s Capitol” by archer10 (Dennis) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
When it comes to sports betting, Canada continues to run a distant second to its neighbor south of the 49th parallel. And the gap is steadily widening.
Since a 2018 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that it was illegal to prohibit gambling in any American state, one state after another is lining up to legalize sports betting and to capitalize on the tremendous revenue streams such a move can create.
Meanwhile, proponents of single-sport betting in Canada continue to butt their heads up against a brick wall.
Two members of the Canadian Parliament – NDP MP Brian Masse and Conservative Kevin Waugh – are the most recent to wager that they could get such a bill passed into law in the country.
A Bipartisan Effort
They came forward with a bipartisan bill in the hopes that the combination of the two opposition parties could convince Canada’s Liberal government that the time had finally arrived to make the move to open up Canadian laws to enable single sports betting.
Masse (Windsor West) and Waugh (Saskatoon-Grasswood) combined to reintroduce the bill after Masse’s private member’s bill seeking a similar outcome had died on the Cabinet floor in 2019.
The current version has had its first reading before Parliament.
“This doesn’t need to go through the normal private member’s bill process,” Waugh told the Windsor Star. “The government can do this with an order of council like they did with the new gun control laws.”
Support From Sports Leagues
“NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressing the audience at the NBA Africa Summit | Toronto, 13 February 2016” by Paul Kagame is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
In the past, major North American pro sports have proven vehement in their stated opposition to any form of legalized sports betting in Canada.
This time, they are behind the proposed new law 100 percent.
Commissioners of four major pro sports – the NBA’s Adam Silver, the NHL’s Gary Bettman, MLB’s Rob Manfred, Major League Soccer’s Don Garber and the CFL’s Randy Ambrosie – signed a statement supporting the new bill on June 8, 2019.
“The National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and the Canadian Football League support an amendment to Canada’s federal laws that would authorize provinces to offer betting on single sporting events,” the statement said.
“Sports betting gives fans another exciting way to engage with the sports they love. Because a legal and regulated sports betting market in Canada would be beneficial to sports and their fans, we urge prompt action to make this a reality.
“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 statement were sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, then-Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Attorney General of Canada and Justice Minister Dave Lametti. Ontario Premier Doug Ford and other key government leaders were also presented with copies.
“It’s an amazing coming together over a long period of time that shouldn’t go unnoticed by the Prime Minister and those interested in ending fraudulent gaming,” Masse told the Windsor Star. He has waged a near decade-long campaign to legalize single-event sports betting.
“It’s a vindication of what needed to be done a decade ago. It shows Canada is now an outlier in regards to single-event sports betting.”
Ford’s Conservative government in Ontario also favors the legalization of single-sports betting.
“Single-event sports wagering is one of the fastest growing areas of gaming entertainment,” said Emily Hogeveen, the senior communications adviser and press secretary for Ontario Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, told the Windsor Star. “Ontario consumers spend about $110 million every year on illegal sports wagers.
“The Government of Ontario has asked the federal government to do away with the outdated prohibition on single-event sports wagering.
“If single-event sports wagering is made legal, our government will work with the federal government and key players in the sports betting market, to ensure changes are implemented in a responsible way.”
Pro-Line Only Option
Currently, the Sports Select series of sports lotteries are the only way to legally wager on sports in Canada. These games carry different names from province to province. In Ontario, for instance, it’s called ProLine and regulated by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission.
With ProLine, straight sports betting is forbidden. Bettors must play parlay wagers of two or more games. In some sports, players are required to win their wager by a certain number of points in order to cash a winning ticket.