Single-Event Sports Betting Legislation Advances in Canada

Single-Event Sports Betting Legislation Advances in Canada
© USA Today

A bill in Canada that would legalize single-event wagering has cleared a second reading in the Senate and has been sent to a committee for review.

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 the second reading 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 a little over a month left in the session before it breaks for the summer. It would likely need approval by the end of June for sports betting to be operational before football begins.

If the bill is ultimately approved by the Senate, 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.

John Levy, founder and chief executive officer of theScore, which is based in Toronto, said Tuesday’s development brings Canada “one important step closer to legalizing single-event sports betting.”

He said in a statement released Tuesday night that the committee review “provides another opportunity to discuss how safe and regulated sports betting will benefit all Canadians by implementing necessary consumer protections, generating critical tax revenue for our communities and driving job creation.”

Canada’s Market Potential

A key stakeholder in Canada, theScore said the market potential for online gaming there is between $3.8 billion and $5.4 billion. In early March, Score Media and Gaming Inc., looking to grow in the U.S. and Canada, closed a public offering resulting in more than $186 million.

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 an interview with The Canadian Press last weekend, Waugh gave the bill a “50-50” chance of getting done.

In anticipation of Canada ultimately legalizing single-game wagering, DraftKings and the NFL in February expanded their Daily Fantasy Sports and content partnership to Canada. The previous arrangement between the NFL and DraftKings was limited to the U.S.