A Canada sports betting bill has been introduced in the House of Commons that would expand gambling to allow betting on single-game sporting outcomes.
Bill C-218 from Member of Parliament Kevin Waugh (Saskatoon-Grasswood) is an act to amend the Criminal Code. The legislation would “make it lawful for the government of a province, or a person or entity licensed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council of that province, to conduct and manage a lottery scheme in the province that involves betting on a race or fight or on a single sport event or athletic contest.”
Parliament’s Criminal Code currently only permits sports betting on several event outcomes linked together into a single wager – aka parlays. The law is a safeguard against perceptions that allowing betting on single games jeopardizes the integrity of sports and leaves leagues prone to corruption.
Waugh, as well as other members of parliament, say the recent expansion of sports betting in the US is reason for Canada to amend its gaming regulations relative to sports.
Michigan and New York are two of 20 US states that have passed sports betting rules since the Supreme Court repealed the federal ban in May of 2018. Several of Canada’s largest casino resorts are just across the US border from Detroit, Michigan, and Niagara Falls, New York.
On the Canadian side of the Niagara River sits Casino Niagara and Niagara Fallsview Casino Resort. Both are owned by the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG), and operated by Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment, the casino subsidiary of the Mohegan Tribe in Connecticut. Canadians in the Niagara Falls, Canada, area who wish to place a single-game bet, say, on the upcoming NCAA March Madness tournament, can make the short commute across the Niagara River to New York’s Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino.
The tribal casino in New York is operating land-based sports betting. Mobile sportsbooks have not been authorized in the Empire State.
Just across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario, sits Caesars Windsor, another casino resort owned by the OLG. Operated by Caesars Entertainment, locals in the area who wish to bet on a single-game sports outcome will soon be able to simply travel into Michigan and place a wager at one of the three commercial casinos in Detroit. Once sports betting goes live in Michigan, online wagering will also be permitted.
With several US-based casino sportsbooks within close proximity to Ontario casinos, Canadian parliament members are considering removing the parlay mandate to the federal Criminal Code and keep such gaming dollars from flowing to the United States.
“It’s frustrating,” said MP Brian Masse (Windsor West), a lawmaker who has repeatedly called for single-game betting. Waugh’s sports betting expansion bill has the support of Masse, as well as the Canadian Gaming Association (CGA).
We’ve had legal sports wagering for decades,” CGA Chief Executive Officer Paul Burns told The Globe and Mail. “In most of the United States, even parlay wasn’t legal.” (Parlay betting was legal in Delaware when full-scale sports betting was barred everywhere but Nevada).
The CGA estimates that $7.5 billion is bet through illegal bookies each year. That’s compared to just $375 million annually wagered through provincial-run sports lotteries.