Proponents of changes to Canadian law which would facilitate the legalization of single event sports betting have been given fresh hope this week with the introduction of Bill C-218 – The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act into the House of Commons.

The new act, championed by Kevin Waugh, MP for Saskatoon-Grasswood, was subjected to its first hour of debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday and is being touted as a powerful tool to help communities recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19.

Emphasizing the need for a change in the law, Canadian Gaming Association President and CEO Paul Burns said: “Helping a gaming facility to open a sports book will serve as an economic stimulus, create hundreds of employment opportunities, and generate a significant new tax revenue stream for cities across Canada. Parliament should come together and help push this change through before the chance is lost to another election.

“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 while enabling economic benefits to flow to licensed gaming operators, communities and provincial governments. I can’t emphasize enough how this small change to the Criminal Code would help communities recover from the economic devastation of the ongoing COVID-19 shutdown.”

According to Burns, many provinces have recently spoken up again about the need to clean up the Criminal Code and let provincial policy makers decide for themselves how to implement single-event sports betting. Left as is, he warned, billions of dollars continue to line the pockets of organized crime, which is estimated to be $10bn annually. 

He added: “More than $4bn is wagered through offshore online sports wagering sites. Currently, only $500m is wagered through legal provincial sports lottery products offered to Canadians, which means many people are betting through illegal and often dangerous means.

“A legal, regulated sports wagering marketplace will drive additional revenue through increased food and beverage sales, gaming activity, and sports wagering revenue while supporting jobs in Canada’s legal and regulated gaming industry.”

Burns’ call for change was echoed by Score Media and Gaming Inc Founder and CEO John Levy who said of the proposed new act: “We strongly support this bill to amend Canada’s outdated federal laws and give sports fans the choice to wager on single events. 

“Canadians deserve a modernized, regulated, and competitive sports betting market, and the reintroduction of this bill is another important step in that direction. As Canada’s leading independent digital sports media brand, and with an active and growing US sportsbook business, we are very excited about the potential opportunities around regulated sports betting here. When the opportunity arises, we will be ready to offer our award-winning sportsbook, theScore Bet, to fans on our home turf.”