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Canuck credit betting operators plead guilty as C-290 sports bet bill languishes

TAGs: C-290, Canada, sports betting

canada-senate-sports-bettingThe ringleader and two associates of a Canadian credit betting operation all pled guilty to illegal gambling charges on Friday. Benedetto ‘Benny’ Manasseri was the reputed boss of the Ottawa-area betting ring, which was broken up in November 2012 as part of Project Amethyst, a two-year joint investigation involving local police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the RCMP that resulted in 21 arrests.

On Friday, Manasseri, Stephen Parrish and Domenicho Arecchi all entered guilty pleas before Judge Hugh Fraser, who scheduled sentencing dates for August. Gary Saikaley, who provided the technical expertise behind the group’s website, was sentenced in April to 18 months in prison.

With Canadian sports fans enjoying the Montreal Canadiens’ quest for the Stanley Cup, the local media in Windsor, Ontario spotted an opportunity to update its quarterly call for Canada’s “unelected, unaccountable” senators (the politicians, not the hockey team) to pass the C-290 sports betting legislation. The bill would allow provincial lottery monopolies to expand their sports betting options beyond the current minimum-three-game parlay wagers.

C-290 was the baby of Windsor-Tecumseh MP Joe Comartin, who saw the possibility of opening sportsbooks in Windsor casinos as a way to boost cross-border traffic from US gamblers who understood that Windsor was considerably closer than Nevada. But despite C-290 passing the House of Commons with all-party support nearly two years ago, the Senate has shown no sign it intends to bring the bill up for a vote. The most recent mention was on Tuesday, when the resumption of debate was curtailed after Sen. Bob Runciman – who supports the bill’s passage – said he was “not prepared to proceed today.” The Senate will break for its summer recess on June 27.

A Canadian Gaming Association study estimated that C-290’s passage could mean a net annual gaming profit of $10.5m for Windsor. A current CBC.ca poll asked which factor would best help Caesars Windsor attract more business: single-game sports bets, a lower Canadian dollar compared to the greenback, free drinks for players or more concerts at the venue’s theater. Sports bets are currently in the lead with nearly 37% of the vote, with free hooch well back at 25.6%.

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