With the rapid growth and success of the US sports betting industry since 2018, Canada has taken notice. There has been a push from lawmakers this year to get a bill approved, but time is also running out.
Bill C-218 is the piece of legislation that looks to change the current criminal code and allow for sports betting in Canada. The Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce now has the bill, but it will need to act quickly if any action is taken.
There is a little over a month before the Senate Committee breaks for the summer, and this bill would effectively die if nothing is done by that time. Proponents of Canadian sports betting point to the fact that this act is happening already, and the country might as well make money off of the industry.
During the second reading of the bill earlier this week, opponents also pointed out some of the biggest dangers of allowing sports betting to be legal. Addiction and the potential to lead to other illegal activities are always the arguments used by opponents of this industry.
Action is expected to be taken one way or another as this is too important of an issue to simply let die by leaving for Summer Break.
Not the First Attempt
Sports betting was first mentioned in Canada way back in 2011, and then again in 2016. Both of those efforts ultimately fell short, but that was also well before the United States had legalized the industry.
Now, Canada has seen the benefits of legal and regulated sports betting in the United States, and it also has a model that can be followed. The United States is not just standing back and watching either as it has helped provide support for this initiative.
Sportsbook operators and leaders of professional sports organizations in the United States have pushed lawmakers to make this move and allow for single game wagering in Canada.
A Potential Boost From COVID-19
Another reason that this bill has some real promise this time around is due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Even though it appears that the most severe threat of COVID-19 has passed, the financial damage is still making its presence felt.
Canada lawmakers are searching for new ways to boost revenue, and sports betting has proven to be a successful method. Several lawmakers have made this a point in discussion, and it could be one of the biggest reasons that Bill C-218 is ultimately passed.
Plenty of Questions Remain
The horse racing industry in Canada is also concerned about its potential place in the sports betting industry, and this is something that lawmakers will have to work through in the future. The Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency currently oversees and regulates the horse betting industry, and that group doesn’t want to lose control.
The CPMA has requested to the Senate Committee that an amendment be added to C-218 that would allow it to keep this control over horse racing. This group has also pushed for a chance to offer sports betting at the race tracks.