Canada MPs Make Third Attempt to Push for Legal Single-Game Sports Betting

  • Politicians Brian Masse and Kevin Waugh co-sponsored a sports betting bill in Ottawa
  • DNP MP Masse has since fully transferred control of the bill over to Conservative Waugh
  • The bill is set to be debated within the legislature and likely voted on in the coming weeks
  • Black-market betting and proximity to the US spells significant market share loss for Canada
flag of Canada against grey-stone building background
Lawmakers in Canada have submitted a bill that would legalize single-game sports betting in the country if it passes into legislation. [Image:]

Yet another push

Canada has seen yet another push for the legalization of single-game sports betting. Politicians Brian Masse and Kevin Waugh co-sponsored a sports betting bill in the capital city of Ottawa. 

Masse has since fully transferred control of the bill over to Waugh. He will continue to work closely with Waugh to lobby members from all the respective parties on the issue. 

Two previous attempts by Masse to legalize sports betting were met with defeat in the legislature. However, with the United States seeing continued success since legalizing sports betting, the stakes for Canada have grown higher. 

The benefits of legalization

Speaking about the bill, Waugh highlighted the significant size of the black market for sports betting that currently exists in Canada. He said each year, C$14bn (US$10.5bn) is gambled through these black market and offshore operators, with the money often going to criminal organizations.

In a tweet, he said the bill would allow Canadian provinces to “regulate [sports betting] properly and ensure that it is being managed in a safe and responsible way.”

Waugh believes a simple form of legalization could be a beneficial tool for governments to use resulting tax revenue to invest in local communities. He added:

I am hopeful that all members will support this common-sense change.”

A make-or-break motion

Introducing the bill, Masse emphasized that now is the right time to embrace sports betting in Canada. He noted that the Liberals avoided outwardly supporting the measure during the recent election.

“Now the music has run out”, he added, the issue will be debated in the legislature and voted on in the coming weeks. The various parties will have to decide once and for all which side they’re on. 

now is the right time to embrace sports betting in Canada

Masse observed that having bipartisan Conservative and NDP members co-sponsoring a bill would offer the Canadian prime minister another opportunity to do something about its legislation.

Significant market share being lost

Canadian lawmakers detailed how market share is constantly being lost to the US market. Originally, they were hoping to attract US customers to legal sports betting. Now, the main issue will be for local casinos to retain their current customers. 

Michigan recently legalized sports betting, with Detroit, Michigan located only a bridge away from the Canadian province of Ontario. The state has legal mobile sports betting, so Canadians only need to briefly cross the border to wager online. Similarly, New Yorkers can be seen crossing into New Jersey to place their mobile sports bets. Toronto is also within driving distance of Michigan, while Montreal is close to the New York border. Vancouver is within proximity of Washington state, where a sports betting legalization bill has been progressing through the legislature.

The chances of success

With the Liberals being the controling party in Canada, they are in charge of the parliamentary agenda. However, a lottery system is in place for each parliamentary session that allows some opposition politicians to submit private members’ bills for debate. 

Waugh got one of the precious early spots in this lottery. The issue will be debated in the legislature and then potentially voted on. There is confidence in the bill getting sufficient support and the law being altered shortly after.

The Canadian Gaming Association is also backing the change the bill would bring about. 

Sports betting in Canada

The gambling market in Canada is unique. Here, federal rules prohibit the likes of single-game sports bets. Instead, only parlay sports wagers are permitted. Each province is then in charge of the specific types of gambling that it allows under the federal government framework.

Parlay sports betting is not very popular as one can only place bets that have at least three selections. Canadian residents tend to turn to the black market and offshore operators to get their sports-betting fix.

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