ill C-218, which would amend the Criminal Code to allow legal single-event sports betting, passed the Senate on second reading but still needs to clear a few hurdles before coming into force.
Any amendments would send the bill back to the House of Commons for another vote and back through the Senate. It will need to receive Royal Assent to become a reality before the end of the month.
The bill was debated by the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce last Wednesday and Friday, with two days of witness testimony. After the final witnesses appeared, the Committee proceeded to a clause-by-clause consideration of the bill, which will be referred back to the Senate on Tuesday, June 8, and the final reading of the bill could follow. The bill could expire if the Senate does not pass the bill before the parliamentary sitting ends on June 23.
Among the witnesses were Paul Burns, President and CEO of the Canadian Gaming Association, accompanied by Randy Ambrosie, Commissioner, Canadian Football League; Chief Gina Deer, Mohawk Council of Kahanwà:ke; Zane Hansen, President & CEO, Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority; Shelley White, CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council; and Stewart Groumoutis, Director eGaming, British Columbia Lottery Corporation.
Saskatoon-Grasswood Conservative MP Kevin Waugh introduced Bill C-218, the Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act, last year. Waugh commented: "It will also ensure that provincial governments have access to the tools necessary to properly regulate sports betting and implement consumer protection and problem gambling programs to protect Canadians."
In April, the bill received "overwhelming" support from all federal parties and passed the House of Commons with a vote of 303 for and 15 against.
In Canadian provinces, the lottery kiosks and convenience stores offer legal sports betting but require the bettor to correctly pick multiple games (parlay), which makes it much more difficult for bettors to win.
Since Canadians can currently bet online at offshore betting sites, the Canadian Gaming Association estimates Canadian bettors spend $4 billion annually on offshore sites and $10 billion on illegal bookmaking operations.
Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Jim Reiter said the provincial government is monitoring the bill's progress and will "assess how this may impact gambling in the province." He said the province is "considering its options" related to single-event sports betting.
The Senate Banking Committee includes former CFL commissioner Larry Smith and Saskatchewan senators Pamela Wallin and Marty Klyne.