Canada’s third stab at single-game sports betting likely DOA


canada-single-game-sports-betting-bill-3Canada’s sports bettors may be thrilled by the debut of yet another single-game wagering bill, although this one is likely doomed to suffer the fate of its two predecessors.

On Tuesday, Windsor-West MP Brian Masse announced that he was transferring control of C-218, his latest bill to legalize single-event sports betting (SESB), to Saskatoon-Grasswood MP Kevin Waugh, in the hopes that the third time’s the charm for Canada’s sports bettors.

Masse (pictured, at podium) is a member of the New Democratic Party (NDP) while Waugh is a Conservative, while the parliamentary agenda is controlled by the ruling Liberals. However, each session of parliament features a lottery to allow a certain number of opposition MPs to submit private members’ bills (PMB) for debate in the House of Commons, and Waugh drew a low number this year.

Masse himself won that lottery in January 2016, which allowed him to introduce his C-221 bill, which ultimately went down to defeat later that year when most of the Liberals voted against its passage. Prior to that, Masse introduced C-290, which somehow made it successfully through the House in 2012 before the unelected Senate showed a rare bit of backbone and refused to give the bill their rubber stamp of approval.

Masse said Waugh’s willingness to use “his precious early spot on the PMB order” to advocate for this new betting bill made this third attempt “a bipartisan effort from the start.” Masse stressed that Canada’s gaming sector – including the casinos in Masse’s riding – was dealing with a “real challenge” from US border states that either have legalized or are in the process of legalizing single-game sports betting.

In Canada, betting is controlled by provincial gambling monopolies, who by law are limited to parlay wagers of at least three events. Not surprisingly, this parlay product hasn’t found much favor with Canadian bettors, who have access to an infinitely wider variety of betting options at any number of the internationally licensed online sportsbooks that accept Canadian customers.

While Masse may celebrate his new bill’s bipartisan origins, the current political situation doesn’t bode well for the bill’s future. The Liberals had their parliamentary majority reduced to a minority during last October’s federal election, and the Tories – who garnered a plurality of votes among Canada’s major parties – are eager to trigger a non-confidence motion so they can return to the campaign trail and claim the electoral victory they believe awaits them.

Should the Liberals lose a confidence motion, every piece of legislation on the order paper will die an untimely death. Since the Liberals are already skating on thin ice through a combination of ‘Western alienation’ and indigenous protests that have disrupted travel and commerce across the country, Masse might want to start forging friendships with other MPs who might draw a lucky number in a future parliamentary lottery.