Calls for Reform of Sports Betting in Canada
by Glenn Baird - November 5, 2020
A bill will be reintroduced into Canadian politics that aims to reform the current system of sports betting that exists in the country.
The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act was only made binding in Canada in February of this year, and whilst many of the Act’s reforms have been welcomed, paragraph 207(4)(b) of Canada’s Criminal Code has caused a significant degree of controversy.
This section of the Bill states that Canadians are not permitted to place wagers on single sporting events and that in order to engage legally with sports betting in the country, punters must place parlay bets on a minimum of at least 3 different sporting fixtures.
Whilst the law has often been met with derision, it was originally conceived as a “strategy to protect the integrity of sports”, limiting opportunities for match fixing.
However, given Canada’s proximity to the United States and the ease with which betting sites and apps can be accessed, albeit illegally, there are now calls to have this section of the bill rescinded in order to maintain the consumer rights of Canadians by keeping bets on single events, like The Super Bowl, within their own borders.
A key argument within the debate has been the increase to revenue within communities that have suffered as a result of the affects of the current global pandemic.
Canadian Gaming Association President and CEO Paul Burns said: “Helping a gaming facility to open a sports book will serve as an economic stimulus, create hundreds of employment opportunities, and generate a significant new tax revenue stream for cities across Canada. Parliament should come together and help push this change through before the chance is lost to another election.
“Amending the Criminal Code to legalize single-event sports wagering will provide provinces with the necessary tools to deliver a safe and legal option to Canadians while enabling economic benefits to flow to licensed gaming operators, communities and provincial governments. I can’t emphasize enough how this small change to the Criminal Code would help communities recover from the economic devastation of the ongoing COVID-19 shutdown.”
Burns goes on to argue that up to $10b is being spent per year on illegal gambling in Canada and that keep that money within Canadian borders would not only help the economy but would provide Canadians with increased consumer rights.
He added: “More than $4bn is wagered through offshore online sports wagering sites. Currently, only $500m is wagered through legal provincial sports lottery products offered to Canadians, which means many people are betting through illegal and often dangerous means.
“A legal, regulated sports wagering marketplace will drive additional revenue through increased food and beverage sales, gaming activity, and sports wagering revenue while supporting jobs in Canada’s legal and regulated gaming industry.”
Core Media and Gaming Inc Founder and CEO John Levy supported Burns stating: “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. As Canada’s leading independent digital sports media brand, and with an active and growing US sportsbook business, we are very excited about the potential opportunities around regulated sports betting here. When the opportunity arises, we will be ready to offer our award-winning sportsbook, theScore Bet, to fans on our home turf.”