Canada’s single-event sports betting proposal passes second reading

Canada is one step closer to permitting legal and regulated wagering on individual sporting events.

The Canadian Parliament has passed the second reading of Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, which would bring single-event sports betting to Canada.

Canada’s parliament passed the second reading of the bill with 303 votes for and 15 against.

Now that the bill has passed its second reading it will enter the last phase of hearings with the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights before moving to the senate and then to Governor-General for Royal Assent.

The Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act

Bill C-218 was reintroduced in November 2020 by Canada’s Minister of Justice David Lametti as “An Act to amend the Criminal Code (single event sport betting).”

The bill was sponsored by Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, and would repeal paragraph 207(4)(b) of Canada’s Criminal Code which states that sports wagering is only legal if bettors bet on at least three or more games simultaneously.

Waugh said: “By passing Bill C-218, we can ensure that going forward, profits from sports wagering are put back into our communities, into health care, education, problem gambling programs, youth sports and other important services rather than the pockets of offshore companies or even criminals.”

During the proposal’s second reading it received support from several lawmakers based on the positive impact it would have on their communities.

Parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Employment, Irek Kusmierczyk, said that the bill would allow for a greater level of job security and pave the way for more employment opportunities in his community of Windsor-Tecumseh.

Sébastien Lemire, bloc MP for Abitibi—Témiscamingue in Quebec said that approval of the proposal would help to improve the transparency of sports betting, more effectively regulate the activity and provide the government with additional resources to help vulnerable people who struggle with addiction.

Industry stakeholders support the bill

A number of industry stakeholders have also voiced support for the sports betting proposal.
John Levy, chief executive of digital media company theScore, said: “Today’s development in the House of Commons, focusing on the legalization of single event sports betting in Canada, is a significant step forward in the process to amend an outdated law.”

“We expect that the legalization of single event sports betting will facilitate the introduction by provinces and territories of a much-needed modernized sports betting framework in their respective jurisdictions that can include important consumer protections and the ability to generate new revenue streams for provincial and territorial governments.”

Quentin Martin, chief executive of esports betting operator Luckbox, said: “This overwhelming result shows there is cross-party support for an amendment to what is an outdated law and very welcome for organisations like ours which offer safe, responsible and enjoyable wagering on events,”

“This outcome is another significant step towards being able to offer safer waging to the millions of sports and esports fans in Canada. Legalization, regulation and working with responsible operators is, in our view, the best means to keep fans safe and offer them the best possible experience.”

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) is also calling for the Canadian parliament to work together to help get the measure approved.

Stewart Groumoutis, the BCLC’s director of eGaming said: “We’re calling on all Members of Parliament to work together collaboratively to legalize single-event betting for the benefit of our players and provinces.

“Our players want single-event sports betting, and we are ready to provide this enhanced offering to them in a safe and responsible manner while also generating additional revenue for the Province of B.C.”