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Canada Moving Closer To Legalized Sports Betting

Author: Devin Erickson-Sheehy | Last Updated: December 1, 2020 | Fact Checked By: Josh Collacchi

The government of Canada has taken a major step toward legalizing single sports betting (online) in the country. Sportsbooks are getting ready with the bonus offers and promos to Canadian customers. But…

The governing federal Liberal Party tabled a bill that would make single sports betting legal across the country. Federal Justice Minister David Lametti introduced the legislation to legalize single-event sports betting in Canada on Nov 26. 

The bill is expected to be given second reading in the House of Commons sometime this week. It would then go to the Committee Stage to be studied, followed by the Report Stage, when the Committee returns the bill to the House and it is debated by all Parliamentarians. At this juncture, changes to the bill can be suggested.

Next comes third reading. If it passes through this phase, the bill goes to the Senators to begin the same process of stages. Once the Senate and House of Commons have both passed the bill, the final step is for it to be granted Royal Assent by the Governor-General in order for it to become a law.

Odds Are It Will Pass

The ruling Liberals currently sit with a minority government. However, both the opposition Conversative and New Democratic Parties have previously indicated their favorability toward legalizing single sports betting.

In fact, there’s already a Private Member’s bill in the system that was introduced by Conservative Saskatchewan MP Kevin Waugh on the Commons order paper that would make it legal for provincially-licensed entities to permit betting on a single sporting event or athletic contest.

Speaking to the CBC, Waugh suggested that the passage of legalized single-sport betting only made common sense.

“Implementing this change would be a massive boost to the tourism, sports, and gaming sectors, as well as a significant win for the workers and communities that rely on them,” Waugh said.

In 2016, Ontario NDP MP Brian Masse also introduced similar legislation in the form of a Private Member’s bill that was not passed. However, bills introduced by the governing party generally hold a much higher percentage rate when it comes to successful passage than do bills put forth by opposition Members of Parliament.

“Getting the government to table its own legislation provides a better path for procedure and prioritization including in the senate, but those things still have to get done and that takes hard work,” Masse told CKLW.

Under the terms of the bill, it appears that if approved, the set up for sports betting would be similar to the implementation in the USA since it was legalized across the border from Canada in 2018. Just as each state controls sports betting in the USA, Canada will put the regulatory powers in the hands of each of its 10 provinces.

“We want them to be able to choose the types of products and services that they want to roll out for the people of their province,” Masse said. “Some will be more robust with regards to the gaming industry and others may want to take a more subtle approach to start on how they want to do it.”

It’s also anticipated that the sports betting sites will be connected to established gaming operations such as casinos and racetracks, similar to the way the system is operating in most U.S. states. 

The same companies that have thrived since the launch of legal sports betting in the USA, like FanDuel, DraftKings and the Canadian-owned theScore Bet are expected to be major players in the Canadian sports betting industry once it is up and operational.

“Canadians deserve a modernized and regulated sports betting market.” John Levy, founder of the Toronto-based theScore Bet, told Bloomberg News.

Current Canadian Betting Laws

Canada currently allows casino gambling, lotteries, bingo and betting on horse racing. However, when it comes to sports betting, Canadians are extremely limited in methods of wagering in terms of what the regulated gaming industry offers.

Sports betting is provided through the lottery corporations operated within Canada’s 10 provinces and three territories. Though it goes by different names from province to province, Pro Line and Sport Select are the most common names. 

With this style of sports betting, players are limited to parlay wagering and must pick a minimum of three games on their parlay card. This style of wagering heavily favors the house. The odds of hitting a three-game parlay are 6-1. Chances of success with a four-game parlay nearly doubles to 11-1. Odds are 22-1 that a five-game parlay will come in and it’s 45-1 against a six-team parlay hitting.

In terms of NFL betting, the odds tip even further toward the house. All football games on Pro Line must be won by a minimum of four points in order to cash the wager. And that’s whether the play is on the favorite or the underdog. Research reveals that more than 20 percent of all NFL games are decided by margins of three points or less.

Plenty Of Wagering Opportunities For Canadians

When it comes to action, Canadians aren’t shy of betting opportunities. Toronto has the lone Canadian franchise in the NBA (Raptors) and MLB (Blue Jays) and since they are the only Canadian team in each of these leagues, they tend to draw a national following. 

The NHL features seven Canadian teams – the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets. 

The NFL is hugely popular in Canada, even though the country doesn’t have a team in the league and in fact has its own pro loop, the CFL. It’s a nine-team outfit with clubs in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan and B.C. The MLS features a trio of Canadian sides – Toronto FC, the Montreal Impact and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

There are three minor-pro basketball leagues operating in Canada, as well as three major junior hockey leagues, a semi-pro soccer league and university sports. However, none of these draw much in the way of betting interest.

Casinos Lobby Strongly For Single Sports Betting

Casinos across the country have discussed the vaibility of bringing single-sports betting to the country since they were first legalized in the mid-1990s. Casinos in border cities such as Windsor and Niagara Falls in Ontario are especially hopeful that they can soon offer single-sports betting to rival their American counterparts.

“Communities like Niagara and Windsor, they're competing with sports betting across the border,” said Paul Burns, president of the GMA. “Now, they'll have a new product to entice customers to come back to their properties.

“The industry has been asking for this for over a decade. Substantial revenues flow to unregulated, illegal operations and offshore Internet sites without providing any financial benefits to Canadians.” 

According to studies conducted by the Canadian Gaming Association, Canada loses access to approximately $14 billion a year in sports betting revenue. Of that total, $10 billion is wagered in the black market through illegal bookmakers and an additional $4 billion is bet via offshore online betting houses.

“Sports betting is such a huge part of the online business,” Burns said. “It will really just allow Canadian companies to compete. Everyone will have the same regulatory relationship.”

Canada Betting Apps to Expect in 2021

Devin Erickson-Sheehy

Devin is a diehard New York sports fan and betting expert. He supplies a wealth of knowledge about everything online gambling, providing readers with up-to-date tracking on the latest trends, industry news, and betting offers.