Canada close to approving single-games sports betting

In a much-anticipated move, Canada’s parliament on Wednesday approved wagering on individual sporting events and thereby paving the way for eventual introduction in provinces and territories. Considering a population of over 37million, its own football league, six NHL teams and a team in the NBA as well in the MLB, one can only note that there is luring potential for sports betting operators in Canada.

Private Members Bill C-218 passed by a vote of 303-15 on Wednesday and will now be referred to the Commons justice committee for further study. A third reading is required with ultimately an approval from the Senate before becoming law. Debate on nearly identical government Bill C-13, which excludes single horse races, is set for Friday.

Right now, Canada only allows betting in the form of parlay’s, bets with multiple outcomes paired together. As Bill C-218 advances to committee for study, it will be followed by a nearly identical government bill, Bill C-13, the only difference being the latter excludes single horse races.

Kevin Waugh, the conservative member of parliament who introduced Bill C-218, told iPolitics that he was surprised it passed by such a wide margin as he feared the Liberals might reject it in favour of their own bill. Waugh said it didn’t matter to him which bill — his or the government’s — passed, and he expects horse racing to be raised when the Justice committee studies his. “Hopefully, we can get it to the Senate in late April or early May, do the necessary due diligence there, and get it back in June,” in time to pass it into law in July, Waugh said.

Sports betting operators are following developments closely. Today, in a press release, theScore Founder and Chief Executive Officer John Levy stated that: “Today’s development in the House of Commons, focusing on the legalization of single event sports betting in Canada, is a significant step forward in the process to amend an outdated law.” 

He further added that: “The positive outcome of today’s vote demonstrates the continuing momentum and strong cross-party support for this issue. We expect that the legalization of single-event sports betting will facilitate the introduction by provinces and territories of a much-needed modernized sports betting framework in their respective jurisdictions that can include important consumer protections and the ability to generate new revenue streams for provincial and territorial governments.”

Based on historical data extrapolated from the global and US gaming markets, a market potential of up to US$5.4 billion in annual gross gaming revenue is on the horizon.

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