Canada’s sports betting backers are gearing up for another push to pass the country’s long-awaited single-game wagering legislation.
In February, New Democrat Party MP Brian Masse introduced C-221, aka the Safe & Regulated Sports Betting Act, which would amend Canada’s criminal code to allow provinces and territories to decide whether they wish to allow single-game sports wagers within their borders.
Masse represents the Ontario constituency of Windsor-West, and on Friday, the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce issued a statement saying it was convening a strategy session in Ottawa on Monday, the day before C-221 is due to have its second reading (of the necessary three) and debate in Parliament.
In addition to the Windsor-Essex Chamber and Masse, the strategy session will involve representatives of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Labor Congress, the Canadian Gaming Association and other industry stakeholders, all of whom are eager to see C-221 avoid the fate of C-290, the previous sports betting bill that died of neglect in (was murdered by) Canada’s Senate last year.
The Windsor peeps support C-221 based on their belief that the addition of a single-game sportsbook will benefit the local Caesars-run casino, which sits just across the water from Detroit (where even daily fantasy sports is considered illegal).
Under existing law, Canada’s provincial gambling monopolies are limited to offering only parlay sports wagering. These monopolies, particularly those that run their own online gambling sites, believe single-game wagers will allow them to compete with the multitude of internationally licensed online sportbooks that currently cater to Canadian punters.
Regardless of its level of support, C-221’s fate is far from assured. Masse is a member of the opposition, and was only able to introduce legislation because (ironically) he won a parliamentary lottery that prioritizes the so-called private members bills that the ruling party permits each session.
C-290 was also a private members bill and passed the House of Commons with relative ease, only to meet unexpected opposition once it reached the Senate, an unelected chamber that traditionally rubber-stamps 99.9% of the bills sent its way.
Both the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball – neither of which said a peep about C-290 while it was in the House – expressed opposition once the Senate began holding public hearings on the matter. Both leagues continue to oppose legal sports betting south of the border.