Canada Sports Betting Bill Inches Forward After Second Senate Reading

  • Bill C-218 was referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce
  • It will undergo further study and the committee will possibly look at amendments
  • The BCLC has called on the Senate to pass the bill before it breaks for summer
  • Score Media and Gaming Inc. CEO John Levy is confident that C-218 will ultimately become law
Female holds Canada flag while looking at the setting sun
The Canadian Senate has adopted a bill to legalize single-game sports betting after a second reading, with the measure now referred to a Senate committee. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update June 4, 2021: An unamended Bill C-218 got the green light from Canada’s Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce on Friday. The legislative body plans to report the measure to the Senate on June 8.

Legislation advances to committee

A bill that seeks to legalize single-game sports betting in Canada has passed a second reading in the Senate. Bill C-218 has now been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade, and Commerce.

The Senate of Canada proceeded to announce the news in a tweet on Tuesday:

The measure will undergo further study as members of the committee consider potential amendments. The committee will then report back to the Senate before a third and final reading of the bill.

Bill C-218, which seeks to end the ban on single-game bets, has received bipartisan support in the country. The legislation would allow Canadian provinces to offer all sorts of sports betting markets. The only exception is horse racing, as pari-mutuel operators can already accept single-event bets.

A number of steps are still necessary for C-218 to advance through the legislature. The bill already got passage from the House of Commons in April before moving to the Senate. Both chambers have to approve identical legislation, so any amendments in the Senate could cause issues. If the bill gets full passage, it will then require Royal Assent before becoming law.

Uncertainty about bill passage timeline

Senator David Wells, the Senate sponsor of C-218, is unsure about the chances of the bill ultimately gaining full passage. He stated: “If it doesn’t pass, it won’t be because people don’t support it, it will be because process (sic) can get in the way.”

Time is running out for C-218. There is increasing speculation that an election could be on the horizon in Canada. If it gets called, then that would spell the end of the bill. The Senate will also be taking a summer break between June 26 and September 20.

The British Columbia Lottery Corporation (BCLC) has called upon the Senate to give priority to the bill and approve it before the summer recess. BCLC president and CEO Lynda Cavanaugh said: “Bill C-218 will provide BCLC with the ability to deliver safe, legal and regulated sports betting options to our players and – most importantly – in a way that prioritizes the health of our players.”

Optimism about full approval

Some sports betting operators have already been preparing for the potential legalization of single-game sports betting in Canada. Among them is the Toronto-based Score Media and Gaming Inc., the company behind a popular sports media app that caters largely to a North American audience.

The operator has also launched online sportsbooks in the US market through the theScore brand. These platforms are currently live in New Jersey, Iowa, Indiana, and Colorado.

Score Media and Gaming CEO John Levy issued a statement on Tuesday night regarding C-218’s latest progress. He described the bill as being one step closer to becoming a reality after the Senate adopted it following a second reading.

annual gross gaming revenue for legal online gaming in Canada could reach between US$3.8bn and US$5.4bn

Levy said: “Following committee, we are optimistic that Bill C-218 will be swiftly passed at third reading in the Senate, receive Royal Assent and become law.” Score believes that annual gross gaming revenue for legal online gaming in Canada could reach between US$3.8bn and US$5.4bn.

Other organizations that support C-218 include the NBA, the NHL, and the PGA Tour.