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Canada Gets Closer to Legalization of Single-Event Sports Betting as Bill advances

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The Canadian Senate had a second reading of the C-218 bill covering single sports betting events. This reading broke down yet another wall in the way of legalizing the activity across the country. The bill has now been passed to head to the Senate’s Standing Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce, where it will undergo more deliberation. The advancement to the committee happened on 18th May, and according to Sports Handle’s multiple sources, the closed-door negotiations were very productive. Have a look at the Legalization of Single-Event Sports Betting here.

Private Member’s Bill C-218 seeks to amend the Criminal Code and make single-event sports betting legal. The bill would specifically target paragraph 207(4)(b). If it passes, it will make it lawful for any entity with a Lieutenant Governor in Council license or a provincial government to run and control a lottery scheme. The scheme can involve gambling on a fight, race, athletic contest, or single sports event within the licensed province. 

However, this law will not accommodate horse racing. Single-event sports betting should not be confused with parlay betting, which is legal in a limited form across the country. Parlays are currently the only way Canadians can legally stake on sports events, which are multiple results paired together, and they all have to hit correctly to win.

The kind of sports betting that C-218 seeks to legalize in Canada is already big business in the country. The Canadian Gaming Association reports that about $15 billion is spent on the activity annually, but only $450 million (3%) is exchanged legally.

John Levy, TheScore CEO, put out a statement indicating his joy for the bill’s passing on the second reading in the Senate since it indicates a step closer to finally legalizing such events. John remains optimistic that Bill C-218 will be approved quickly in the third reading and the Senate. The Canadian parliamentary system demands that a bill undergo three readings in the House of Commons and Senate before receiving royal assent and becoming law. 

The bill was adopted in the House in April and received overwhelming support from the three leading parties in the country. It is estimated that the legalization of single-event sports will pump around $10 billion into Canada’s revenue coffers. This prediction is provided by Kevin Waugh, the C-218 sponsor in the House.

The Banking Committee Composition

Senator Howard Wetston chairs the committee responsible for delegating and passing the single-event sports bill. The Ontario senator’s Independent Senators Group dominates the committee that consists of twelve members. Six of them belong to the Independent Party, three belong to the Conservative party, and two are from the Canadian Senator’s Group. Senator Marty Klyne from Saskatchewan is the only Progressive Senate Group committee member.

Several news outlets tried to reach Weston’s office a day after the C-218 bill passed the second reading but were unsuccessful. However, it is speculated that the senator will borrow a page from Waugh’s playbook from his spring’s House deliberations. Waugh had his bill referred to the House Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in March. 

The committee proceeded to conduct extensive research on the effects of betting on single-event sports. The implications were assessed with the assumption that the activity will be legalized. Single-event sporting is currently only available for one contest: the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs’ first-round playoff series on Game 5 of the North Division.

Waugh, who was once a Canadian sports broadcaster, argues that single-event sports will come in handy to rebuild the gaming sector after taking a brutal hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. During the third reading of his bill in the House, the senator tabled comments from a vast range of stakeholders that supported the decriminalization of this gambling form. The commentary came from prominent figures like;

  • Shelley White, CEO of the Responsible Gambling Council
  • David Shoemaker, Canadian Olympic Committee CEO
  • Paul Melia, President of the Canadian Center of Ethics in Sport

Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, voted in favor of the bill during an earlier reading in the session. These parties presented their support for C-218 differently. Still, they all pointed to the potential to unlock a new wealth of opportunities, generating revenue for both the government and the sports industry. It will also introduce a unique chance to combine mental health, financial services, health, and policing stakeholders with the gambling industry. 

These partnerships will result in a sui generis responsible gambling culture in Canada based on tested, informed laws and practices. It will also cut down the ever-rising illegal gambling rate by offering services available on the unregulated market only on the current system. This will provide an opportunity to track and help more people addicted to gambling.

Wary Optimism

Waugh handed over the mantle of pushing the legalization of single-event sports to Senator David Wells after its passage in the House. The Conservative from Newfoundland and Labrador outlined the many ways that the bill is embedded with gambler protections to keep consumers safe on the legal market during his 4th May speech. 

He reiterated that the regulations put in place are palpable, relevant, and desperately required. One crucial inclusion is the protection of minors from the activity achieved by age and identity verification to participate. Sports organizations, gaming regulators, sportsbook operators, and law enforcement will also be required to work together to avoid match-fixing and shield the integrity of events.


C-218 has garnered immense support since it was introduced to the House. However, the slightest demur could scuttle efforts to change the law. Committee members against the bill can use stalling tactics to make the debate last longer. By presenting the Senate with a litany of other elements to focus on, the Private Member’s Bill could end up at the bottom of the pile.

Jordan Gnat, the Playmaker Capital CEO, stated that smooth sailing requires a perfect score and not a nine out of ten. Currently, the Senate has only a few days to pass C-218 before the House adjourns on 25th June for summer recess. The last session day is likely to coincide with the Stanley Cup Finals kick-off.