Canadians are one step away from being able to place legal single-sports wagering across the country. On June 22, the Senate of Canada gave the third reading to Bill C-218, also known as the Safe And Regulated Sports Betting Bill. When no amendments were tacked on to the bill, it was forwarded to the Governor-General of Canada’s office to be granted Royal Assent and become law across the land.
That approval was given on June 29. The bill now sits on the desk in the office of Canadian Minister of Justice and Attorney General David Lametti. All that stands in the path of Canadian betting sites being able to offer single-sports wagering is for Lametti or the Cabinet of the ruling federal Liberal government to set a date for the new law to go into force – in other words, to establish a day for the launch of single-sports betting across the country.
That date will probably be arriving sooner rather than later. Industry insiders believe that this will be up and operational in Canada by Labor Day. This rollout is expected to feature online and mobile wagering being offered in most if not all Canadian provinces.
Currently, only British Columbia and Manitoba offer online sports.
Legal and regulated sports are nothing new to Canada. In fact, it has been legal in the country since an amendment was made to the Canadian Criminal Code in 1985 that would make certain forms of sports-legal in the country. This change made Canadian it legal, provided it was offered in a lottery format.
It meant that parlay wagering – the playing of multiple wagers in one bet – would be the only accepted format of gambling on sports in Canada. The federal government handed off regulatory control over this to provincial lottery corporations.
Bill C-218 is merely tweaking this law. It is enabling Canadians going forward to be able to wager on a single game or event, without the requirement of packaging multiple games on a wager.
Joe Comartin, an NDP Member of Parliament from Windsor, Ontario, first attempted to get the bill passed to proper legalization in 2005. It failed to gain the necessary support. A decade later, NDP MP Brian Masse, who’d followed the retired Comartin as the elected official in his Windsor riding, put forth another bill in 2016. It died in the Senate when a federal election was called.
As Parliament resumed in 2020, both Masse and Conservative MP Kevin Waugh of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was prepared to put forth a third bill to seek the change in the Criminal Code to permit it. They agreed that whichever MP drew the lower number, giving them the first opportunity to present their bill, would take the bill and run with it.
That proved to be Waugh and he introduced his version of the bill in February of 2020.
On this occasion, forces that previously fought against the passage of the bill were fully in support of being made legal across Canada. Key backers of the bill were all of the major sports leagues that operate in Canada. The commissioners of the NHL, NBA, MLB, MLS, and CFL all joined forces to provide a letter of support to Waugh in his bid to get the bill passed.
Seeing the impact in the USA has made in terms of revenue gained by their leagues and member teams, these sports officials had suddenly become fans. It was made legal across the USA in 2018.
While it’s expected that the same provincial lottery corporations that operate the current sports systems in the country will be offering the new single-sports product, several of the top American and European sites are also waiting to charge across the Canadian border to set up shop. American betting giants such as DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetMGM will be coming to Canada, as well as leading United Kingdom online betting powerhouses like William Hill and Bet365.