Conservative MP Kevin Waugh from Saskatchewan has introduced the “Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act” (Bill C-218) in Canada’s House of Commons this week. The Act, if passed, would amend the country’s Criminal Code to enable legalized sports betting.

Introducing the bill, Waugh told the House that single event sports wagering already exists in this country. “And if you don’t think so, you’re behind the curtains,” he said. “The Canadian single event sports wagering industry is worth over $14bn, but most of it – like 95% of it – exists underground on the black market or through offshore websites.”

Underlining the illegality of the current situation, he proceeded: “None of that activity is subject to government regulations or taxes. None of it is creating jobs in this country or economic opportunities. And none of it is contributing to consumer protection, to education, to harm reduction and initiatives or support services, which are badly needed I must say in this country.” 

Waugh added that the legislation would amend the Criminal Code to repeal the Federal ban on single event sport betting and allow the provinces to implement a safe and regulated betting environment within the provincial wagering and lotteries systems.

“By passing this bill Mr Speaker we can put a stop to the billions of dollars going towards organized crime and put that money back into our communities. It’s all changed since 2018 – in the United States they have allowed this. Sports leagues like the NBA, the NHL, they are in favor of sports betting being regulated and it’s time this country followed forward.”

Waugh’s bill has the full backing of the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA). CEO Paul Burns commented: “Amending the Criminal Code to legalize single-event sports wagering will provide provinces with the necessary tools to deliver a safe and legal option to Canadians, as well as the power to address important issues such as consumer protection while enabling economic benefits to flow to licensed gaming operators, communities and provincial governments.” 

An amendment to permit single-event sports wagering has had almost unanimous endorsement from provincial governments across Canada. Supporters also include Unifor and the Canadian Labour Congress; the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Soccer Canada and the International Olympic Committee; law enforcement; dozens of mayors and community leaders across Canada; and professional sports leagues such as the CFL, NBA, and NHL. 

“This amendment will allow us to safeguard the $17.1bn economic contribution that gaming makes to Canada as well as the 182,500 jobs that support not only individuals but communities,” added Burns. “We look forward to working with all political parties to make single-event sports wagering a reality.”