Canada’s federal government is making moves to legalize single-event betting as the practice is heating up in neighboring US and as the nation’s gambling industry is grappling with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti on Thursday tabled legislation calling for the decriminalization of single-event sports betting in Canada.
If the bill gains traction and gets passed, it would amend paragraph 207 (4)(b) of Canada’s Criminal Code and would authorize provinces and territories to create regulatory frameworks and conduct single-event betting online and/or at brick-and-mortar locations like casinos. Bettors will be allowed to place wagers on all sports events except horse racing.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Canada?
The federal government will maintain its role in matters related to pari-mutuel betting on horse racing under the recently tabled bill.
Minister Lametti said in a statement that the amendments he is proposing “will help create a safe and regulated environment for Canadians who wish to participate in single event sports betting.”
At present, parlay betting is the only legal wagering option in Canada. It enables bettors to place a single sports wager that involves two or more bets combined into one. According to recent reports, Canadians wager around C$500 million in parlay bets every year.
However, even though it is not permitted, single-event betting in Canada is believed to be a C$14 billion industry, with money being dolled out through illegal bookmakers and offshore betting operations.
Government Hoped to Expedite Process
Canada’s gambling industry has quickly turned a hopeful eye toward the possible legalization of single-event betting. The practice, if legalized, is believed to be able to ease some of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the sector.
Casinos around the country have been shuttered for the second time this year as a second wave of the coronavirus has prompted new restrictions across provinces and territories.
Of the proposed legalization of single-event betting, Canadian Gaming Association CEO Paul Burns said that the nation’s gaming industry has been “severely impacted by Covid-19 so having access to this new product will assist in the industry’s recovery.” He also urged the government to now “move expediently” through the legalization process so that new revenues and tax dollars can be generated.
Liberal MP Chris Bittle said on Twitter that the legalization of single-event betting will help Canada keep gambling money away from the thriving black market. He noted that “instead of creating jobs and boosting our local tourism industry, single games sports betting has been a black market that has evaded taxes & directed funds to organized crime.”
The lawmaker added that authorizing the practice presents an opportunity for their industry to “compete with border states and keep some of the C$14 billion Canadians spend on black market sports betting here in Canada.”
Earlier this year, North America’s big five professional sports leagues made a joint call for the Canadian government to permit single-event betting as the practice “already happens illegally” in the country and “a legal and regulated sports betting market […]
would be beneficial to sports and their fans.”
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