The National Hockey League has followed the lead of the National Football League in condemning proposals by forward thinking legislators to bring sports betting to the North American masses. The recent progress made in the Canadian parliament by MP Joe Comartin’s single-game sports betting bill has the NHL spooked in its strongest market. In a statement provided to the Vancouver Sun, NHL vice-president Bill Daly said the league was “not in favor of any move away from parlay betting in provincial lottery games.”
Despite the findings of their more experienced counterparts in Europe, North American sports leagues maintain that single-game sports betting represents a existential threat to the integrity of sporting events. Canadian punters, on the other hand, can’t help but notice that 95% of the single-game money wagered at sportsbooks is eventually returned to gamblers, compared to the paltry 60% return offered by the provincial lottery corporations’ parlay betting operations. Small wonder that these punters are increasingly opting for the wider variety of betting options provided by international online operators.
In covering this issue, the Vancouver Sun quoted Paul Burns, VP of the Canadian Gaming Association (a lobby group that counts the provincial lottery corporations as ‘industry partners’), as saying that the mostly European-licensed operators currently serving Canadian sports bettors are doing so illegally. In fact, Canadian law only prohibits Canadian-based companies from offering single-game sports bets, and the European operators don’t have any physical operations in Canada. (We encourage members of the Canadian media to contact us in future before running articles on such subjects to avoid the accidental spread of misinformation.)
Given his position, Burns is presumably aware of the fallacy he’s promoting. But it speaks to the desire of his ‘industry partners’ at the provincial lottery corporations to get in on the single-game betting action. Naturally, they’re attempting to mask their desire under the guise of consumer protection, but make no mistake – these are corporations, whose primary function is to make money. Moreover, they’re government-owned and government-regulated corporations, unlike the European operators who answer to outside regulators. While we think it’s both smart and inevitable that Canadian provinces want to get into the single-game sports betting action, we think it’s highly duplicitous of them to portray their interest in doing so in anything other than monetary terms.