Single-game sports wagering bill rejected in Canada

The Canadian parliamentary effort to legalise single-game sports wagering was insufficient in the face of Liberal Party opposition.

Canada.- The Canadian parliamentary effort to decriminalise single-game sports wagering suffered blow on Wednesday night in the face of Liberal Party opposition. The House of Commons rejected single-game sports wagering bill C-221 by a close vote count of 156 to 133.

If the bill had been approved, it would have been referred to the House’s Committee on Justice and Human Rights. MP Brian Masse from the New Democratic Party, was the one who introduced the bill. He argued that the passage of the bill would have created jobs, helped fight organized crime and contributing to provincial economies throughout Canada.

“By defeating this legislation the Liberal Government just endorsed an unacceptable reality in the gaming sector in Canada. They are well aware of the massive revenue stream sports wagering is providing organised crime to fund human trafficking, the illegal drug and weapons trade, money laundering and tax evasion,” said MP Masse on Wednesday night.

On the other hand, the bill’s critics in the legislature had argued that passing the bill would not effectively discourage illegal wagering and could increase problem gaming issues in the country. The NHL, NFL, NBA and MLB all filed opposition letters in 2012 to Canada’s previous sports betting efforts. However, the NBA retracted its opposition in 2015 to align more closely with its current stance on wagering. The other three leagues continued to maintain their stance, though.

C-221 was pretty much identical to a 2011 bill, C-290, spearheaded by now-retired MP Joe Comartin. Both bills sought to amend the federal criminal code to give provinces the choice to legalise single-game wagering. Some forms of parlay sports betting, such as Pro Line, are legal in Canada and administered by provincial lotteries. In that betting scheme, bettors must pick multiple, consecutive winning outcomes in order to win any money. C-221, would have allowed lotteries to offer contests where bettors could wager on just one game. Back in 2012, the House of Commons passed C-290 unanimously and then the Senate failed to address that bill over three years and it eventually died.

C-221’s proponents had hoped that a more thorough debate in the Justice Committee would assuage some Senate members who were uncomfortable with C-290’s relatively debate-less passage. However, unexpectedly, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s liberal party formally came out against the bill earlier this year. The party had supported C-290.

“The Liberal Government ignored an opportunity to create and protect jobs and stimulate economic growth in the entertainment and tourism sector as well as in data management, fin-tech, web design, journalism and others.  This is a huge missed opportunity that perpetuates a completely unacceptable yet entirely correctable status quo,” Masse said.