Canada should mimic AGA’s priority list for legal online sportsbooks.
Last week, the US Supreme Court wiped the slate clean, obliterating a 26-year ban on sports betting across all US states, minus Nevada. Immediately after the decision was announced, the Canada Gaming Association welcomed the decision, and responded by imploring the Canadian government to amend the Criminal Code to allow for single-event sports bets.
Several other major backers are supporting the movement, including the BC Lottery Corp, and BC Attorney General David Eby, and Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati. It’s safe to assume the CGA is plotting its offense, gathering its ammunition, and preparing for an all-out lobbying war to convince the House and Senate that the time has come to regulate single-game live and online sports betting.
The CGA would do well to study the tactics of their southerly cousins. The American Gaming Association (AGA) wrote an influential letter to US Federal Policymakers this week, outlining a list of priorities they feel must be taken into account. No doubt, the CGA is paying close attention.
AGA’s Priorities for Legal Online Sportsbooks
The AGA’s letter quickly points out that offshore online sportsbooks and underground bookies generate an estimated $150 billion annually. The CGA’s statement to the Canadian government also indicates the amount of money flowing offshore, estimated at $4 billion annually.
Fiscally speaking, the CGA and AGA clearly have similar priorities; to stop all that money from funneling overseas and under the radar. A host of other AGA priorities should be mimicked as well.
State / Provincial Regulation
The AGA goes on to clarify that scripting federal regulatory guidelines for sports betting would be “unwise” and “unnecessary”. For decades, gambling regulation has been left up to the states, not the federal government. There’s no reason for that to change now, especially when states that choose to regulate the activity won’t have to look any further than Nevada—where sports betting has been legal since 1949—to study an effective method of regulation.
The CGA should make the same point to our federal government. Gambling regulation has been in the hands of provincial governments all this time. It would take nothing more than a simple amendment to the Criminal Code to reverse the ban on single-event wagers. From there, provinces that choose to legalize this form of wagering can handle the grunt work. And they’ve already proven capable of successful regulation in sports lotteries, as well as land-based and online casino gambling.
Consumers Come First
The AGA wants to ensure that the protection of consumers comes first. “AGA will promote strong consumer protections – which the illegal market fails to offer – and consumer-centric conveniences such as intrastate mobile wagering.”
Consumer protection has always been at the forefront of the CGA’s argument, and that’s exactly where it needs to stay.
Protecting the Integrity of Games
One of the largest concerns for lawmakers who have historically opposed legal sports betting is the integrity of the games. The AGA points out that “new technologies make it possible to track legal wagering and identify suspicious activities”. That, in conjunction with a “national data repository”, shared by regulators, sports bodies and law enforcement, would significantly strengthen game integrity. But this can only be achieved through regulation.
If the CGA were to join in that regulatory system, together, they could create a “continental data repository”, further strengthening the integrity of sports all across North America.
Responsiblility in Gaming & Advertising
The AGA encourages any US state that regulates legal online sportsbooks to enforce strict guidelines to promote responsible gambling, as well as responsible advertising. Each Canadian province that regulates gaming already has strict responsibility programs in place, and the same extensive programs can be applied to live and online sports betting. These programs could be fortified with a mere fraction of the additional revenue provinces will earn by providing single-event betting.