Canada to get new sports betting bill; Nova Scotia online gambling poll

canada-sports-betting-legislationCanada will get another chance to approve single-game sports betting legislation, although doubts remain as to whether the push will have any more success this time around.

Canada’s House of Commons approved the C-290 sports betting bill in 2012, only to see it languish in the Senate for three years before it officially died of neglect when the writ dropped on the federal election this summer. Former New Democratic Party (NDP) legislator Joe Comartin introduced the private member’s bill and current NDP legislator Brian Masse says he will introduce a similar private member’s bill at his earliest opportunity.

Masse, whose Windsor, Ontario constituency includes a Caesars Entertainment-operated casino, told CBC News that he would work with the other parties to ensure “everyone is comfortable” with the new legislation. Much of C-290’s opposition in the Senate was based on the perception that the bill had been rushed through the House of Commons without sufficient scrutiny.

Canada held federal elections this month that pushed the Conservative party out of power and elevated the third-place Liberals to a parliamentary majority. Masse’s NDP was relegated to third place and the new sports betting bill likely won’t be a priority for the Liberals. Furthermore, even if the Liberals support the new bill, the Tories continue to hold a majority in the unelected Senate and could decide it owes neither the Liberals nor the NDP any favors, so don’t hold your breath.

At present, Canada’s Criminal Code restricts sports betting to provincial lottery corporations, and even they are only permitted to offer parlay wagers. C-290 would have amended the Code to allow provinces to decide for themselves whether to allow single-game sports betting within their borders.

Comartin believed that allowing Caesars Windsor to open a sportsbook would have resulted in an increase in cross-border traffic from neighboring Detroit. However, should New Jersey succeed in its push to overturn the US federal prohibition on sports betting, Michigan casinos could open their own sportsbooks, so while Canadians may ultimately benefit from Masse’s efforts, Windsor’s gains could be slight.

Out east, Nova Scotia’s government is conducting a $100k survey to gauge the impact that online gambling is having on provincial residents. The Department of Health and Wellness and the Nova Scotia Provincial Lotteries and Casino Corporation have enlisted MQO Research to query 10k Nova Scotians on their online gambling habits. Lottery corp president Bob MacKinnon said the responses should be gathered before the year is through, with analysis of the data following by the end of H1 2016.

In July 2014, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation – which represents the gaming interests of Canada’s four maritime provinces – announced it wanted to follow the lead of British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, Ontario and (possibly) Alberta in launching an online gambling service.

Michel Samson, the minister responsible for Nova Scotia’s Gaming Control Act, told reporters last week that the province needed to know how many of its residents are “participating in online poker and other casino-style games, and how often.” Samson said the data collected via the survey would help inform the province whether online gambling is presenting issues that could warrant government intervention.