Canada’s long journey towards the introduction of regulated, single-event sports betting will ultimately prove successful said Paul Burns, founder and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, while addressing delegates during this week’s inaugural SBC Digital Summit North America.

“We have been working with a coalition of business, labor and community organizations, amateur sports groups and others who are for a regulated sports betting market,” Burns said during a panel entitled: ‘Single-Event Sports Betting in Canada: The Time is Right’, which was sponsored by Xtremepush.

“We currently have another bill in front of parliament. We are in a unique situation due to COVID-19. And so we are waiting to see where that can go, but there is some movement. We are confident. We have all-party support. It is now a matter of when, not if,” Burns added.

During the session, which was moderated by Amanda Brewer, principal of ABCo, Burns also laid out the case for why a new regulated framework for single-event sports betting was so important.

“Canada has had legal sports wagering for decades. We have had parlay wagering, as betting on the outcome of a single sporting event is currently illegal. But there is a real desire to see more. Canadians are speaking by accessing offshore online sportsbooks.

“It has been customer demand. Above four billion dollars in gross handle goes through offshore online sports offerings. Because of Canada’s grey market, Canadians are able to access rather convenient payment means for these sites.

“Part of it is leveling the playing field for gaming operators, creating a legal framework to encompass all sports wagering, allow the regulated gaming industry in Canada to offer the products customers are looking for,” he said.

Also on the panel was Don Bourgeois, principal, Gaming & Regulation Group. He noted that a grey market has grown as a result of uncertainty surrounding the criminal code.

“The criminal code is a very dated piece of legislation. The term grey market flows from that level of uncertainty as to what a private sector can do. The current language in the criminal code was really based upon land-based activity,” he said.

Both Bourgeois and Burns went on to explore opportunities in Canada for gaming businesses looking to establish a foothold in North America.

Burns noted the strong pool of talent, particularly in Ontario, attractive tax credits and the ‘discount’ afforded by the Canadian dollar.

“Ontario and other parts of Canada are a very good place to start into the North American marketplace,” added Bourgeois.

SBC Digital Summit North America will conclude today. But with plenty of activity and some big names lined up to speak, there is still time to register or obtain more information via the event’s official website.