Canadian Sports Betting Bill C-13 On Hold Again in House
February 1, 2021
By Tom Nightingale
One of the bills aimed at legalizing single-event sports betting in Canada, Bill C-13, has been put on hold again in the House of Commons.
The bill, which would amend the Criminal Code to allow provinces and territories to introduce single-event sports betting, was introduced to the Commons by federal justice minister David Lametti in November.
The debate around the bill had been expected to pick up again in early 2021 after being put on hold before the holiday break. However, it has been pushed back again. A factor in that has been other major debates in the Commons on the likes of assisted dying, the Fall Economic Statement, and the Canada-U.K. trade deal.
The Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada told CGB in an emailed statement: "Our government knows that in order for gambling to take place in a safe and responsible way, it must be properly regulated. The changes we are proposing through Bill C-13 would give Canada’s provinces and territories the ability to regulate single sport betting.
"By bringing Bill C-13 forward as a government initiative, we had hoped that it would move expeditiously thorough the Parliamentary process, particularly in light of the cross-partisan efforts to see these changes come to fruition. We were disappointed to see that unanimous consent to fast-track the Bill was denied, and would reiterate that the Liberal caucus supported that measure. We remain committed to seeing this bill receive Royal Assent, and we invite all Parliamentarians to work with us to move this forward."
Minister Lametti has said the goal of the legislation is simple: "to bring a common practice out of the shadows and into the open. To make it legal, regulated and safe."
While the Liberal government has been a major proponent of the bill, it is thought to have significant cross-party support and came within a single opposing vote of being fast-tracked in the Commons in December.
However, Windsor West MP Brian Masse, who has been a major proponent of the amendment, has questioned the government’s commitment to bringing the pastime to Canada.
"This government continues telling Canadians that they are committed to passing this legislation, yet they cancel, for the second time, the necessary debate in order for it to move forward through the House of Commons," said Masse in recent days. "We have already missed the boat on getting out in front of our U.S. counterparts and now with an election on the horizon here, it doesn’t look like they really want this passed at all. Another empty promise."
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Masse stressed that time is of the essence as, in the event of an election being called, C-13 would have to be reintroduced.
"Passing this legislation will take money from the black market and organized crime and allow the proceeds to flow back into the government coffers for social programs like health care and education," said Masse. "If we can do this immediately, and get it to the provinces and territories, it might help post-COVID with the economic recovery by creating jobs and bringing in new business."
Meanwhile, a similar bill, C-218, had a second reading on February 5 which the CGA called "successful". That bill, supported by members of the Bloc Quebecois, the Conservatives, and the NDP, would pass with a minority government even without Liberal support.
The Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada's statement added: "By taking illegal betting profits out of the hands of organized crime, revenues could instead be directed towards healthcare and education initiatives, as has been done with other lottery revenues.
"Importantly, regulating this kind of betting would also bring additional transparency to help support responsible gambling and ensure those in need of help can assess the resources they need. The proposed changes would also create opportunities to work with Indigenous communities to strengthen their participation in the gaming industry. Some preliminary discussions to assess interest and priorities in this respect have already begun, with more to come."