Expert Says Canadians Need to Address Match-Fixing Before Legalizing Single-Game Sports Betting

Posted on: December 20, 2020, 02:26h. 

Last updated on: December 20, 2020, 03:45h.

Efforts to pass single-game sports betting in Canada will have to wait until lawmakers return to Ottawa next month, as Parliament has adjourned for the holidays. However, when they reconvene, at least one expert is calling on them to take action against match-fixing before trying to expand gaming options.

Canadian sports betting
Canadian lawmakers won’t return to Parliament Hill in Ottawa until next month. However, some hope when they do, that lawmakers will fix the single-game sports betting legislation to include provisions on match-fixing and problem gaming. (Image: Coolcaesar/Wikimedia Commons)

Last week, journalist and author Declan Hill wrote a guest op-ed for The (Toronto) Globe and Mail saying elected officials need to take other steps before they pass single-game betting. That includes creating a federal law making match-fixing illegal.

Hill, who has talked to about concerns with sportsbooks partnering with colleges, does believe that legalizing single-game betting is a good idea, as that market is currently run by organized crime outfits.

(A)ny legislation that can help reduce this criminal profit is a positive step,” he wrote. “However, Bill C-13, as drafted, is a bad idea.”

Last month, Canadian Federal Justice Minister and Attorney General David Lametti filed C-13. The Liberal leader’s bill came after lawmakers in other parties, led by MP Kevin Waugh (Conservative, Saskatoon-Grasswood), had resubmitted a similar proposal to expand gaming in the country.

Sports betting is legal in Canada, but only through parlay wagering. That type of bet requires bettors to pick multiple winning events without losing in order to win.

Canadians Shrugging Shoulders

Hill, who is also a professor of investigations at the University of New Haven’s Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, noted that Canada has long been considered a haven for match-fixing.

One instance in particular happened more than 30 years ago, when the Canadian men’s national soccer team played a match against North Korea. A group of players sold out to bettors in Singapore. The courts decided against intervening because there was no specific law on the books.

Since then, international authorities have tried to connect with Canadian officials. Five years ago, Hill wrote, Interpol sent a delegation to the country and identified games targeted for fixing.

“The response of Canadian authorities? A giant metaphorical shrug of the shoulders,” he reported.

Hill isn’t the only one who has called attention to this issue. Last year, McLaren Global Sport Solutions and the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport published a joint paper outlining five steps the country needs to take to address match-fixing. Among those is a review of Canadian law to address how manipulation outcomes of games or events can be prosecuted.

Bill Needs to Address Problem Gaming

Match-fixing isn’t the only issue though that needs to be addressed in Lametti’s bill, Hill said.

It also does nothing to address problem gaming, which he said he finds worrisome, since expanding sports betting will likely make it easier and more enticing for people to make wagers.

“There is an easy solution,” he said. “Canadian politicians should modify Bill C-13 to ensure that all Canadian bookmakers pay for effective gambling addiction research, education, and treatment.”

Some tout sports betting as a game of skill, but Hill does not believe that. He shared a conversation he had with a colleague who used to operate a European book. More than a million bettors bet with that sportsbook, but in a year, only five actually won money, Hill said.