BCLC urges Canada’s Senate to make sports betting bill a top priority before summer break

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The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has called for the Canadian Senate to prioritize the passing of Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, before the chamber takes a scheduled summer break.

The Corporation’s statement came as the bill passed its second reading in the Senate this week, clearing the way for the next phase in its passage, a debate in the Senate’s Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.

The first stage of the legislative process was completed back in April when the bill was passed by the House of Commons. Should it clear the third Senate hurdle, it will still need final approval before it can receive Royal Assent and enter into law.

The passing of the bill will enable the BCLC to provide single-event sports betting through its website PlayNow.com. As British Columbia’s (BC) only regulated online gambling website, the lottery’s website delivers vital revenue to the province to support important public initiatives.

President and CEO Lynda Cavanaugh commented: “Bill C-218 will provide BCLC with the ability to deliver safe, legal and regulated sports betting options to our players and – most importantly – in a way that prioritizes the health of our players.

“Legalized single-event sports betting would support BCLC to shift play from unregulated websites to PlayNow.com, where numerous safeguards support healthy play and where revenue goes back to support BC communities.”

Currently, the only sports bets permitted in Canada are those requiring a ‘parlay’, meaning players must wager on the outcome of at least two different events. As a result, BC players are making single-event sports bets on unregulated gambling websites that don’t provide jobs or revenue that benefits the province.

BCLC estimates it has lost as much as $250m in revenue to unregulated websites over the last five years because current federal law prohibits it from offering single-event bets.

theScore Founder and CEO John Levy commented on the passing of Bill C-218 on second reading in the Senate, saying that Canada is now “one important step closer to legalizing single-event sports betting”. 

He noted: “The Bill has now been referred to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce, which provides another opportunity to discuss how safe and regulated sports betting will benefit all Canadians by implementing necessary consumer protections, generating critical tax revenue for our communities and driving job creation. 

“Following committee, we are optimistic that Bill C-218 will be swiftly passed at third reading in the Senate, receive Royal Assent and become law.”