Single event sports betting
Recently (February 11, 2011) Joe Comartin, New Democrat MP from Windsor Ontario, introduced a private members bill to amend the Criminal Code of Canada to permit single event sports wagering. With the dissolution of Parliament the Bill (C-627) is now effectively dead. However, after the election I expect a similar bill to be re-introduced.
As we are all aware, the Criminal Code currently prohibits anyone from wagering on the outcome of a single sporting event – the Stanley Cup final or Super Bowl for example. Comartin’s bill recognizes the reality that such betting goes on and enables provinces to better regulate gambling and allow communities, not organized crime, to benefit from the proceeds of gaming.
We have spoken with many Members of Parliament and Senators from all parties who agree with the sentiments expressed by Comartin when he introduced his bill. “When it comes to this type of gambling, the Criminal Code is outdated and does not recognize the modern reality of professional sport leagues and sporting events. Sports gambling is a multimillion dollar industry which operates underground and unregulated throughout Canada,” said Comartin. “This bill will help take a large chunk of revenue out of the hands of organized crime.”
Such an amendment is analogous to the 1998 amendment that allowed dice games. The previous government indicated that it would support such a bill if they know the provinces welcome the change.
According to Comartin, “provincial governments, municipalities and many of those involved in the tourism and gaming industry have been calling for changes to the Criminal Code for some time”.
It is important to note that such an amendment would simply allow any province to offer the product should it choose to do so. Further, each province would be free to choose the format in which single event wagering may be made available – be that online, a casino sportsbook or otherwise.