Canada’s Single-event Sports Betting Bill Debated in Parliament This Week

Posted on: April 18, 2016, 02:39h. 

Last updated on: April 18, 2016, 02:40h.

Canadian Member of Parliament Brian Masse Canadian sports betting bill
Canadian Member of Parliament Brian Masse who wants to bring single-event sports betting to Canada. (Image:

Canada’s single-event sports betting bill will receive its second reading of a necessary three this week (Tuesday) and will also be debated parliament.

Currently, Canadians are permitted to make parlay wagers only when playing with their regulated provincial operators, a fact, of course, that makes it more difficult for them to win anything. All other sports betting is illegal in Canada, although many Canadians engage with the unregulated markets with impunity.

And here lies the problem for the provincial lottery operators, who are losing hand over fist to the more attractive unregulated markets. The Canadian Gaming Association estimates that Canadians wager $450 million a year on legal parlay bets while a staggering $10 billion goes to the offshore markets.

This is extra revenue for the state that could otherwise be channeled into schools and hospitals and to fund problem gambling programs, says New Democratic Party MP for Windsor West Brian Masse, the sponsor of the single-event betting private members’ bill.

Second Time Lucky?

While politicians in Quebec are aiming to solve the problem by creating a “firewall” around the province and passing a law that would demand internet service providers block residents’ access to illegal sites, Masse has come up with a far more feasible solution: let the people wager on single events.

Or rather, he has resurrected the idea. Masse’s bill C-221 is an almost carbon copy of an earlier bill, presented in 2012 by now-retired NDP MP Joe Comartin. Having sailed through the House it was a hair’s breadth away from becoming law in 2013, but it stalled in the Senate and was shelved when the most recent general election was called.

NHL Opposition

The new bill would amend the Criminal Code by repealing the current wagering restrictions, allowing the provinces to decide whether they want to adopt single-event sports betting on an individual basis. All such bets would be monitored by the Canadian Gaming Association.

“It’s a great method to fight organized crime,” Comartin said of the bill last July. “It’s just a great tool to take away a huge chunk of money from that type of criminal activity.” He also called it “a job creation tool, not just for this community but for a number of communities across the country.”

The bill has a strong support in the Canadian House of Commons but has faced recent criticism from the NHL, which recently reaffirmed its opposition to regulated sports betting with reference to the bill. The league has eight Canadian franchises.