Canada’s Single-Game Sports Betting Bill Passes, But Still Faces Challenges

Posted on: March 25, 2021, 01:23h. 

Last updated on: March 25, 2021, 04:05h.

A Canadian Parliament committee unanimously passed an amended bill to legalize single-game sports betting on Thursday. But some obstacles remain before people in the Great White North can start downloading apps.

Canadian sports betting bill
Canadian MP Iqra Khalid, chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, presides over a committee meeting Thursday that saw lawmakers approve an amended single-game sports betting bill. (Image:

The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights amended C-218 to exclude horse racing from the events sportsbooks could offer. That was the only change committee members made before recommending the bill receive a third reading in the House of Commons.

“The horse racing industry’s primary source of revenue is wagering through the pari-mutuel system of betting,” said MP Vance Badawey, Liberal-Niagara Center. “We must, Madam chair, move to protect this revenue stream for the benefit of approximately 50,000 jobs across Canada.”

That third reading is the last step before it heads to the Senate. However, bill sponsor MP Kevin Waugh, Conservative-Saskatoon-Grasswood, told after the committee meeting the bill still has a long way to go.

Because it’s a private member’s bill instead of a government-backed one, it’s slated to go to the bottom of the House’s priority list. Waugh said that means, as it stands now, that third reading wouldn’t come until mid-May.

“Unless I can change with somebody,” he added. “I haven’t had those discussions because it was in Justice Committee.”

While Waugh is a Conservative member, it doesn’t necessarily mean he will need to swap spots with another Conservative member’s bill to get a third reading next month. The bill also has supporters within other parties as well.

Canadian lawmakers are set to start a two-week Easter break this weekend. They will resume work on April 12.

Waugh: Snap Election Could Derail Sports Betting Bill

Expediting that third reading is important because there is speculation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may dissolve Parliament this spring and call for elections in June.

If that were to happen, the bill’s dead,” Waugh told “We would start all over again, and this bill would not come forward until at the very earliest 2022.”

Even if that doesn’t happen, there’s no guarantee the bill makes it out of the Senate. A similar initiative made it there back in 2014, only to languish, Waugh said. While he does have some supporters of the bill in that chamber, it won’t get the same priority as a government member bill.

Canadian Attorney General and Justice Minister David Lametti filed his own version of the sports betting bill. As a government bill, it would have gotten the legislative priority. However, Waugh said the administration twice decided not to have the committee consider Lametti’s bill.

“And that’s why I jumped ahead of them, because they delayed it twice in the House,” Waugh said. “And then when they delayed it the second time on Jan. 29, I said to myself, are they playing games, or are they serious about this bill?”

Senate Could Also Amend Bill

Waugh added that horse racing interests also delayed his bill and pushed to get the protection Lametti included in his legislation into C-218.

At a Judiciary Committee meeting earlier this week, there was also talk of adding historical horse racing at tracks to help them supplement their purses for horsemen. Waugh said there was “zero chance” of amending the bill to include HHR.

If any additional amendments happen, that would occur in the Senate, Waugh said. It is possible lawmakers there could amend the bill to include provisions for indigenous nations to participate. However, Waugh added that would further delay the bill.

If passed, C-218 would change Canadian law to allow single-game sports betting in the country. Currently, only less- lucrative parlay betting is allowed. Waugh’s bill would give the provinces the ability to approve sports betting and license operators.

Among those who support the measure is theScore CEO John Levy. The Canadian-based sports media company currently holds sports betting licenses in four states.

“Strong momentum continues for regulated sports betting in Canada. Now, back to the House for 3rd reading,” Levy said. “We urge Parliament to pass this bill quickly.”