ill C-218, which would make it legal to bet on individual sports events, has passed its second reading in the Canadian House of Commons. 303 MPs from all parties voted in favour of the legislation, with only 15 voting against.
It will now be referred to the House Justice Committee, where members can suggest changes to it, iPolitics reports. It will then have to clear another vote in the House, then make its way through the Senate, before becoming law. If passed as currently written, the bill would end a decades-long prohibition on betting on the outcomes of single games in Canada. If decriminalized, provinces and territories would be given the responsibility of regulating and licensing websites and in-person businesses that allow betting on single sports events.
Right now, it’s only legal in Canada to place bets when multiple outcomes are paired together, which is known as a parlay. As Bill C-218 advances to committee for study, it will be followed by a nearly identical government bill, Bill C-13, the only difference being the latter excludes single horse races.
The government excluded horse racing from C-13 because it’s regulated by an existing federal body, the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency. When it tabled Bill C-13, the government said in a news release it would consult with provinces and territories, as well as the horse-racing industry, about the effects of legalizing single-event betting. Debate on Bill C-13 is set for Friday.
Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, who introduced Bill C-218, told iPolitics after the vote he was surprised it passed by such a wide margin; he feared the Liberals might reject it in favour of their own bill. Waugh said it didn’t matter to him which bill — his or the government’s — passed, and he expects horse racing to be raised when the Justice committee studies his. “Hopefully, we can get it to the Senate in late April or early May, do the necessary due diligence there, and get it back in June,” in time to pass it into law in July, Waugh 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on the legalization of single event sports betting in Canada, is a significant step forward in the process to amend an outdated law,” theScore Founder and CEO John Levy said in a press release. “The positive outcome of today’s vote demonstrates the continuing momentum and strong cross-party support for this issue. 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.”
theScore estimates a market potential for online gaming in Canada of between US$3.8 billion and US$5.4 billion in annual gross gaming revenue, based on historical data extrapolated from legal online gaming markets in the U.S. and globally.
"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," Luckbox CEO Quentin Martin stated. "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. We will be following the outcome of Bill C-13 very closely during these exciting times fans of esports, sports and the igaming industry in Canada and the US."
The company, based in Calgary, Alberta, has previously submitted its application to join the Canadian Gaming Association ahead of the anticipated legalization of single-event wagering in Canada.