In a long-awaited announcement on August 12, Attorney General and Justice Minister David Lametti confirmed that Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, will be enacted on August 27.
The amendment to the Criminal Code to legalize single-event sports betting was passed earlier this summer and received Royal Assent on June 29.
Lametti announced in a live media briefing on August 12 that from August 27, single-game sports betting will be allowed in provinces across Canada on Aug. 27. As laid out in the legislation, it will be up to provinces to decide how (or if) they will offer single-game sports wagering.
“Provinces and territories will be able to offer single-event sport betting products like wagering on the Grey Cup, Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, or the Super Bowl,” Lametti told reporters, adding that the exception is horse racing, which will continue to be regulated by the Canadian Pari-mutuel Agency.
“These changes to the Ciminal Code will allow provinces and territories to use revenues to fund programming such as healthcare and education, as they do with other lottery revenues.”
Lametti emphasized that the legislation is the result of cooperation of all political parties, and thanked numerous figures including MP Kevin Waugh, who brought this Private Members Bill forward, and MP Brian Masse, who brought the previous Private Members Bill forward.
The news was celebrated by the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA), a longtime vocal proponent of such legislation.
“This was the final hurdle for the Criminal Code change to legalize sports betting, which means that provinces and casino operators can now move forward with their plans,” the CGA said in a statement. “Casino operators are looking forward to offering sports betting at their properties, and provinces will now have the authority to deliver a safe, legal, and controlled sports betting option to Canadians.<
“From an economic standpoint, having the ability to offer single-event sports betting will be a tremendous benefit to Canadian gaming operators and the communities where they operate, as most importantly it will allow them to create new jobs.”
Raring to go
The passing of Bill C-218 is a seminal moment for the Canadian gaming and sports betting industry. Across the country – not to mention south of the border, where market giants’ eyes have turned northwards – consumers, operators, and everyone in between is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to dip their toes into the new market.
The CGA and its President and CEO Paul Burns have long cited extinguishing the grey market and bringing revenues, profits, and player safety back into a regulated market as a key reason to widen Canada’s legal sports betting market, a call that was echoed by a wide variety of advocates during the legislative process.
Burns had previously earmarked Labour Day as an early target for Canada’s most proactive markets, such as the huge and potentially lucrative province of Ontario, to get some form of single-event sports betting up and running. In theory, at least, that will now be possible.
The provinces and their provincial lottery corporations are certainly ready and waiting. Alberta Gaming, Liquor, and Cannabis (AGLC) issued a statement on August 4 to stress that the province is awaiting the green light.
Meanwhile, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) recently released its draft regulatory standards for sports and event betting and on August 3, the British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) announced that Genius Sports will be the official data provider for its expanded sports betting offering.
Watch Lametti’s full press conference here.