As Canada Eyes Fall Sports Betting; PointsBet Makes Key Hire

As Canada Eyes Fall Sports Betting; PointsBet Makes Key Hire
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With two Senate committee hearings on Canada’s sports betting bill C-218 scheduled for Friday and June 9, one sports betting platform made a move on Thursday in anticipation of future passage and fall launch of the market.

PointsBet Sportsbook on Thursday named Nic Sulsky as chief commercial officer for its Canadian operations in a move that signifies PointsBet’s intent to launch its products and services in Canada when legal to do so.

“PointsBet is excited to welcome Nic to the team, adding strong talent that knows how to build first-class gaming brands while possessing a deep understanding of the Canadian landscape,” Johnny Aitken, PointsBet USA chief executive officer, said in a news release. “With legislation now before the Canadian Senate, our hope is that this will be the first of many Canadian hires as we work to ensure our Canadian leadership team both understands and reflects the unique characteristics of the Canadian sports environment and its millions of loyal fans.”

The appointment of Sulsky, a gaming industry veteran and Toronto native, underscores PointsBet’s commitment to being active in the proposed Canadian market. Sulsky is the former president of Monkey Knife Fight, the third-largest daily fantasy sports operator in the U.S., the release said. He also co-founded InGamer, an in-game fantasy platform that launched in 2010 in partnership with CBC’s “Hockey Night in Canada.”

Bill Testimony Heard by Senate Panel

The move comes a day after the Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee heard testimony where members were told they could expect a launch of the sports betting market in the fall if all approvals are granted.

With those two meetings set in front of the same committee over the next six days, Canada needs to have the bill clear the Senate by the end of June or it could face an uncertain future.

Bill C-218 would amend the Criminal Code to allow provinces and territories permission to regulate online and in-person wagers on individual sporting events, including hockey, football and other sports. The bill received its third reading in the House on April 22 and was sent to the Senate, which held its second reading last Tuesday.

After review by the Senate Banking, Trade and Commerce Committee, the bill would move back to the Senate for a final vote. There is less than a month left in the current session before it breaks for the summer, likely needing approval by the end of June for sports betting to be operational before football begins.

If the Senate ultimately approves the bill, it goes back to the House for final debate. If approved again by the House, it moves to the Governor-General for Royal Assent.

Canada currently only allows for parlay betting through the lottery. Single-event wagering is allowed on horse races.

Canada’s Potential Sports Betting Market

A key stakeholder in Canada, theScore, has said that the market potential for online gaming is between $3.8 billion and $5.4 billion.

Kevin Waugh, a Conservative member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Grasswood, who introduced C-218 as a private member’s bill, said when it cleared House in April that he was “hopeful that the Senate will consider and pass this bill quickly.” In a recent interview with The Canadian Press, Waugh gave the bill a “50-50” chance of getting done in the Senate.

In anticipation of Canada ultimately legalizing single-game wagering, DraftKings Sportsbook and the NFL in February expanded their Daily Fantasy Sports and content partnership to Canada. A prior agreement between the NFL and DraftKings was strictly for the U.S.

On Thursday, BetMGM sportsbook was named Sports Betting Partner of The Hockey News, pairing the sports betting and hockey media companies. Under the multi-year partnership, they will collaborate on NHL print and video content, giving hockey fans insights into the game from a betting perspective.