Internet Gambling Canada: A “lose-lose position” without legal sports betting.
It’s been nearly a decade since political figureheads began the push for legalization of single-event sports betting in Canada. In the early days, there was little more than a hope and a prayer. The required legislation was, at first, unanimously applauded, only to lose favor beyond the house, dying a slow and miserable death. Another push began a few years later, but was largely ignored. It wasn’t until our neighbors to the south amended their laws that more Canadians began to take notice.
Now, with legal sports betting spreading at a rapid pace across US states, the need to legalize single-event betting in the Great White North is finally being seen as an issue worthy of intense debate. One of its most adamant supporters over the years, NDP MP Brian Masse, says the first real movement could feasibly happen as early as next week.
Internet Gambling Canada: Real Push for Single Event Betting
In what’s being seen by some as the first real push – or perhaps more appropriately, the first real chance – for successful passage of a single-event betting law, Canadians are looking to next week’s meeting of the House of Commons for movement on the issue.
Masse has said on more than one occasion that all it would take to legalize straight-up sports wagers is the omission of one single sentence from the Criminal Code. This could be easily accomplished via legislation – the same legislation his private member’s bill has attempted to get passed for the last few years now – or by an order-in-council from the cabinet.
Current Prohibition a “Lose-Lose Position” for Canada
Masse told CBC News he has high hopes that the Liberal government will take up the issue when it reconvenes next week.
“We are in a lose-lose position right now. We would have been ahead of the curve if we had actually defined our own destiny, but instead U.S. courts, as expected, moved ahead and left us behind,” explained Masse. “The consequences for Canada are very high.”
In mid-2018, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a 26-year old law that prohibited sports betting in all states outside of Nevada. Since then, many state lawmakers have been pushing heavy for legalization. New Jersey didn’t even had to push. Their government had the necessary laws pre-scripted and ready to enact the moment PASPA was overturned. New York and Michigan weren’t far behind.
Each of these states is close enough to the border to capture Canadian betting interest. Now, not only is Canada watching millions of dollars flow offshore to international sports betting sites, we’re also seeing Canadians travel south of the 49th parallel to place bets with legal US retail sportsbooks. And why shouldn’t they? All we have here are parlays, where multiple picks must be made, and all come in correct, to win anything. The odds of winning on a parlay are so much lower than alternative betting jurisdictions, where single-event wagers are legally accepted.
Gambling Law not an “Immediate Priority”
The Liberal government assured the public during its “re-elect Trudeau” campaign that the prohibition would be stricken from the Criminal Code once he secured his seat as Prime Minister. Since then, however, the issue has been put on the back burner.
Rachel Rappaport, a spokesperson for Justice Minister David Lametti, said in a statement:
“Minister Lametti was honoured to receive his mandate letter in December, which outlines the immediate priorities he has been tasked with. Reforms to gambling laws are not included as part of these immediate priorities.”
She went on to say that the government is aware of recent legislative changes to the south, and that the situation is being monitored and discussed with affected individuals and groups.
In turn, Masse was quick to point out the government’s betrayal following Liberal re-election. He called it a “paternalistic approach by the federal government, denying Ontario, Quebec and B.C. and others. The message is basically, ‘Canadians can go to the internet or the black market, instead of a regulated, open market where provinces can make their own decisions‘.”