Canada Single-Event Sports Betting Bill Passes House of Commons

Canada Single-Event Sports Betting Bill Passes House of Commons
© USA Today

The legalization of single-event sports wagering in Canada continues to gain momentum.

Bill C-218 was passed by Canada’s House of Commons on its third reading Thursday. The bill would amend the Criminal Code to allow provinces and territories permission to regulate online and in-person wagers on the outcome of individual sports events, including hockey, football and other sports. The bill had received overwhelming approval on its second reading in the House in February.

The bill now moves to the Senate for reading and adoption before moving to the Governor-General for Royal Assent. Final approval for the bill could come as soon as May. There has been hope that single-event sports betting could be live before the NFL season.

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Canada currently only allows for parlay betting through the lottery. Just horse races allow single-event wagering.

Bill C-218 has largely been backed by members of all parties while remaining mostly untouched during the legislative process. There was an amendment added to keep Canada’s pari-mutuel betting system for horse racing.

“Given the extraordinary amount of support that this bill received from all parties in the House of Commons, I am hopeful that the Senate will consider and pass this bill quickly,” Kevin Waugh, Conservative member of Parliament for Saskatoon-Grasswood, who introduced C-218 as a private member’s bill, said in a statement. “Canada’s Conservatives will continue to push forward common sense bills that create economic opportunities and help Canadians.”

Canadian Company theScore Approves of Bill

Gaming companies such as theScore, which is based in Toronto, applauded the House of Commons for passing the legislation.

“We commend the members on all sides of the House of Commons for quickly passing this much-needed legislation,” John Levy, founder and CEO of theScore, said in news release. “Today’s development is a major step forward and we are increasingly encouraged by the widespread industry and strong cross-party support that Bill C-218 has garnered. Now that Bill C-218 has been passed by the House, we look forward to the Senate swiftly carrying the ball over the goal line.”

Looking to grow in the U.S. and Canada, Score Media and Gaming Inc. in early March closed a public offering of the company’s Class A shares in the U.S. and Canada, resulting in more than $186 million. It was the Score’s first public offering in the U.S.

Sports Betting Bill Victory for Legislators

The latest passing is seen as a victory for Waugh.

“I am pleased that today, Bill-C218 passed the House of Commons with the support of Members of Parliament from all parties,” Waugh said in a statement. “The Justice Committee's study on this bill highlighted the fact that legalizing single-event sports betting will create great economic opportunities for Canadian workers, businesses and employees."

Without the legalization of single-sport betting, residents in Canada have turned to the black markets to place bets. The Canadian Gaming Association estimates $14 billion per year in wagers from Canadians is going to offshore websites or to illegal bookmakers.

TheScore estimates legalized online gaming in Canada could net between $3.8 and $5.4 billion in annual gross gaming revenue. Those figures are based on historical data extrapolated from legal online gaming markets in the U.S. and globally.

Provinces in Canada would regulate sports betting if the bill becomes law.