The horseracing sector is calling for protection before Canada’s bill to legalise single-event sports betting is passed.
Canada.- The horseracing industry is calling for protection from the government as Canadian legislators evaluate a private member’s bill that would legalise single-game sports betting in the country.
In Canada, it’s currently only legal to bet on single games or competitions in horseracing. In other sports, players must bet on more than one game at a time.
The House of Commons justice committee is now considering a bill that would amend Criminal Code provisions that prohibit gambling on single games of football, hockey and other sports.
Bill C-218, proposed by Conservative MP Kevin Waugh, has tentative support from the horseracing industry, but the industry has concerns about the possibility that casinos and offshore gambling websites would gain a foothold in the sports betting business.
Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO Jim Lawson, who heads Canada’s largest racetrack operator said: “The horseracing market is a zero-sum game. Horse-racing wagerers that would access fixed-odds betting will move away from the Canadian parimutuel pools.
“This will dramatically cannibalize the Canadian horse-racing industry’s market share, and these operators would earn their revenue without contributing to the substantial cost of producing our content”.
According to MP Kevin Waugh the main goal of Bill C-218 is to level the track globally against large foreign sites such as Bet365 and Bodog that earned more than $4bn from Canadian bettors each year.
He said: “The more money I put down at Woodbine on Dancers Halo, the less odds I get. Whereas at the casino, it’s fixed odds — it stays maybe nine to one. At Woodbine it was nine to one to open in the morning, but now it’s a seven-to-two favourite. And that’s what they’re worried about.”
Racetracks of Canada president Willian Ford has proposed an amendment that would bar any organisation from accepting a fixed-odds wager on horse racing.
Ford said: “We can see the writing on the wall. The legalization of single-event sports betting will see the influx of massive foreign companies and leagues entering the Canadian wagering market. Competition will be severe and racing will see market share shrink over time”.
Ford is also asking Ottawa to legalize historical horse racing. The move would allow gamblers to wager on past races, with vendors drawing from a database while preventing players from identifying the race before locking in a bet.
Bill C-218 will come before the House for its third reading in April.