Canadian Conservative Party Member of Parliament Kevin Waugh is sponsoring a bill that aims to legalize single event sports betting across the country.
The private member’s bill, which was filed yesterday, aims to repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of the Canadian Criminal Code to allow gambling operators to offer betting on a single sport event or athletic contest.
Currently the Criminal Code states that only bets on at least three games or more are legal.
Bill C-218, also known as the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, aims to repeal this restriction, and to allow provincial and federal governments to tap into an illegal market Waugh estimated to be worth around CAD$14bn.
“Let me be clear that single-event sport wagering already exists in this country, and if members do not think so, they are behind the curtains,” Waugh said when introducing the bill. “The Canadian single-event sport wagering industry is worth over $14 billion, but most of it, 95% of it, exists underground on the black market or through offshore websites.
“These are unregulated sport-wagering sites,” he continued. “None of that activity is subject to government regulations or taxes; none of it is creating jobs in this country or economic opportunities; and none of it is contributing to consumer protection, education, harm reduction initiatives or support services, which are badly needed in this country.”
The bill is being introduced for the third time, with each previous attempt sponsored by New Democratic Party MP Brian Masse, who seconded C-218’s introduction by Waugh.
Both previous attempts to pass single-event betting amendment were unsuccessful, though Waugh pledged that the latest would prove “third time lucky”.
“By passing this bill, we can put a stop to the billions of dollars going to organized crime and put that money back into our communities,” he said.
“[It] has all changed since 2018,” Waugh added. “The United States has allowed it. Sport leagues, like the NHL and NBA, are in favour of sports betting being regulated. It is time this country follows forward.”
C-218’s introduction was hailed by the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), which threw its full support behind Waugh’s efforts.
“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,” CGA chief executive Paul Burns said.
It would also give provinces the power to address issues such as consumer protection, while allowing economic benefits to flow to licensed operators, communities and provincial governments, he added.